International Inspiration & Home Truths: Sports clubs

Our series “International Inspiration and Home Truths” shares some of the crowdlending stories we’ve heard from far and wide, brings that inspiration back to Aotearoa and hears from the enthusiasts who’ve helped us to imagine what crowdlending could look like for a range of kiwi organisations. The next type of organisation spilling over the top of our box of inspiration is sports clubs.

Sport is an essential part of many of our lives. A good chunk of us build our identities around the sports we play, watch and follow. Whether it’s rugby or racing, surfing or squash, there’s a little bit of us that belongs to that sport. Our team are no different: for Tan it’s tennis, for Kelsey it’s football, for Barry it’s futsal and for Anna…well, is cheese a sport?

At the core of our sporting-lives is a community of people that get the same buzz that we do ourselves – club members that get such joy out of being involved with and having a sense of ownership over our clubs. Sports clubs are constantly building crowds of members, players, fans and followers.

So have sports teams borrowed from their crowds before? Indeed they have. German football club Hertha Berlin F.C. broke crowdlending records a year ago when they raised €1million in ten minutes from their fans and members. As part of their “Hetha 4.0” strategy, they wanted to refresh their online identity and become the most innovative and inclusive club in Germany.

It’s not just big professional outfits that crowdlending can work for. Fin McCool Surf School on the shores of Donegal in Ireland borrowed €20,000 from their crowd to refurbish their clubhouse last March.

What could happen closer to home?

Imagine, a kiwi surf lifesaving club borrowing interest-free from their members to refurbish their wind battered clubhouse. Rallying their crowd to improve their common home whilst rewarding them by paying them back over time.

The enthusiast who’s inspired us

Geoff Lewis got us thinking about crowdlending for sports clubs when he and Anna crossed paths last year. He’s a proud member and President of Thorndon Tennis and Squash Club in Wellington.

Who are you, and what do you do?

We are the Thorndon Tennis and Squash Club.  As a tennis club, we were established in 1879 making us, we believe, the oldest tennis club in New Zealand.  Even Wimbledon started only a few years before the Thorndon Club! Our vision is to be a thriving, dynamic tennis and squash club in the heart of Wellington. To help achieve our vision, we are striving to upgrade our facilities, some of which are showing their age!  One important project is to upgrade our two existing lawn tennis courts into modern, high-quality playing surfaces for all-year-round use.

What do you think about crowdlending?

Upgrading our lawn tennis courts requires a substantial capital spend. We are hoping to fund this partly with grants from gaming trusts and partly with additional income from a larger member base and from using one existing court as a mid-week parking facility. To bridge the timing gap between the capital spend not covered by grants and future income, we think crowdfunding via loans from our members and supporters is the way to go.  Our lenders will earn interest on their funds, feel good about helping the club, and feel secure about getting their money back over time.

What are your concerns about crowdlending in New Zealand?

Crowdlending in New Zealand is still relatively unknown. At the same time, more stringent financial regulations in New Zealand require a professional approach to raising funds.  We think for a modest-sized sports club such as ourselves, it makes sense to use a crowdlending platform like PledgeMe to ensure that all the legal and technical boxes are ticked.

What excites you about it?

If crowdlending helps Thorndon Club to build two brilliant new tennis courts, and upgrade other facilities such as our four squash courts, it will be a very exciting achievement for us and for the inner-city community of Wellington who I’m sure make great use of them.

A little bit curious about how crowdlending can work for your local club? Chat to us!

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