OpinionProduct NewsFund-Raising Ideas For US Skiing

FasterSkier FasterSkierMay 12, 2005

I have read numerous comments by other contributors regarding organizational
management and ah yes money. It has been alluded to but not addressed
completely. Let's not dance around this issue like it's not part of the
problem because it is.

In review of the relatively small revenue requirements (we're talking
millions in the single digits) needed to fund a successful team campaign
overseas, I am surprised by the the lack of professional organization
focused on this as well as the excuses and the comment made that xc skiing
is a minor sport in the US that nobody wants to watch on TV. There are many
obscure sports and sporting events that have successfully found their
marketing nitch. In an Olympic year, the best example would be the
Bobsledders and Lugers who are very savy in terms of garnering funds and
support. We could talk about sail boat racing, cycling, and professional
chinese checkers players for that matter. THIS IS WHERE AMERICANS ARE
SHAMELESSLY DIFFERENT THAN OUR GOVT. FUNDED COUNTERPARTS ACROSS THE
ATLANTIC.

Fun fact, in Park City, a small enclave of some well to do people mixed
with the rest of us who fight to make a decent paycheck every two weeks,
there are over 100 charities registered here & all fighting for the same
dollar that is tax deductible. Not only is it the “American way” to compete
for these donations but many are successful at it as well. The amount of
revenues garnered by this free for all money grab for the “spotted wapatian
wood trout”, the “western historical preservation of pioneer culture…”
generally exceeds the US Xc ski team budget.

Additionally the XC ski folks rely on big brother, the DHers for the table
scraps of revenue instead of stepping out and becoming more entrepenuarial
business people. It appears to me that many in our sport consider this to be
some how unclean and definately have an aversion to it or at least have no
idea how to do it. Here's another local example, has anybody been to the
annual Park City Ski Team
ski swap????? What a cash cow, this event could rival that of any convention
and or revenue event put on by a major group of retailers in a major city!
Ski swaps probably aren't the answer for XC ski
funding but like the Bobsledders, kudos to them for finding their niche and
exploiting it!

As it would be unfair just to admire the problem, let me also provide some
solutions. As I have experience in fund raising I can tell you that it is
there for the asking yet like all marketing campaigns you must be clever in
your approach, packaging and purpose. It also requires something else that
many of us know about through tireless hours of training and that is
persistence!

Pursuing the “American Way” of fund raising requires a multi dimension
approach to marketing strategy, i.e. plan your work- work your plan.

First suggestion, create a community of volunteers of experienced business
people who have experience in fund raising, marketing, have “networking”
attributes and or a passion to serve. I am quite sure in my travels as a
masters citizen racer across the US that there are many of us who could
help.

Secondly, since I am personally and professionally invovled in the health
care industry, I can tell you first hand of the growing financial crisis we
have regarding paying for health care. Even Corporate America is choking on
the bill, BTW last I checked even the US Govt. is nervous about paying for
all of us baby boomers heading into semi retirement and Medicare. Point is,
WE the Cross Country ski community typically are very healthy people, we
definately can take a role in helping Corporate America as well as,
communities at large, become healthier and more PRODUCTIVE after all it's
again the “American Way” . This can be accomplished through collective
parternership on a win/win basis, i.e. helping others out and helping the US
(Cross Country) Ski Team. You would be surpised at the numerous
organizations out there looking for ways to promote healthy lifestyles to a
sedentary and obese society.

Currently, all I am currently seeing in the US Ski team approach to
marketing is the “branding concept” , i.e. “I want to be like Picabo or
Bode so therefor I must drive a Chevy truck”. Problem is that fame is
fleeting and disapeers quickly causing the US Ski team to search elsewhere
for it's next cash cow. This is a very shortterm and circular problem vs.
instilling a concept with something of more value that outlasts today's
hero.

There are many ways to reach to the community at large be it public,
private, corporate, not for profit, etc….. many organizations are very
successful at raising funds for a good cause as well as some very good at
raising money for pointless and even illegal ones. My point is that I don't
think the US XC ski organization has a very good idea of how to raise money
yet complains about it often without really understanding the potential, how
it is done, and or most importantly taking action to
finding a solution.

I'll leave the training and racing discussions to the experts, yet I can
tell you that when it comes to the above mentioned issue, the US ski team
really is a bunch of amatuers (i.e. trying to compete for funding) who
aren't recoginizing the potential while trying to compare themselves to the
professionals who have figured it out a long time ago.

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