FlipGive amps up sports and community sponsorship

The new sports marketing: properties, platforms & partners /// supplement series. As the space evolves beyond traditional sponsorship to new kinds of programs, this is the first in a series of profiles that explore the next wave of sports marketing opportunities for brands.
With the increasing cost of sports - especially hockey - parents are being asked to help fund more and more activities. 

With the increasing cost of sports – especially hockey – parents are being asked to help fund more and more activities. 

As any parent with kids in hockey can attest, youth sports are expensive. And Toronto-based fundraising platform FlipGive wants to help alleviate that pressure.

“Fundraising sucks,” says Steve Croth, CEO of FlipGive. “But parents are being asked, more than ever, to step up and raise money for their schools and to cover the costs of sports.”

FlipGive wants to modernize traditional grassroots fundraising. The company partners with retailers and restaurants, encouraging people to shop for the things they already want or need. “We’re a modern-day alternative to selling chocolate bars or over-priced almonds.”

The platform works like this: parents head to FlipGive (or a FlipGive network partner site), where they create an online fundraising campaign. They raise money when they and their friends shop with FlipGive retailers. Ten to 50% of what they spend is given back (by the retailers) to their fundraising campaign.

There are more than 50 retailers to shop with, including Indigo, Aldo, Nike and Under Armour. The platform brings shoppers to retailers through fundraising, but without the need for discounts or coupons – that money is instead directed to the sports, school or community organization.

Beyond the sales generated by these transactions, Croth says it introduces new shoppers to brands, helps build equity, and have more impact in their communities. “This model goes after better customers who aren’t discount seekers,” he says. “We attract people with high household incomes, who are college educated, and have kids.” In fact, 71% of the shoppers are female, between the ages of 25 and 54, with the majority earning more than $100,000 a year.

FlipGive makes fundraising as easy as a click, with participants able to buy what they'd really like while helping give back to their communities.

FlipGive makes fundraising as easy as a click, with participants able to buy what they’d really like while helping give back to their communities.

“We’re helping retailers thrive in a tough environment,” he says. “We’re bringing the Toms Shoes model of ‘give when you buy’ to retailers across North America.”

He points to the “Fuel the Game” campaign with Under Armour and online team management platform TeamSnap, which saw shoppers spend on average 40% more than a typical Under Armour customer (and all at full price). The campaign, and thus Under Armour, received more than 10 million impressions, with 87% of shoppers new to the retailer. Another 45% opted in to future email communication from the brand, Croth says.

Since its relaunch in 2013 (previously, the company operated as Better the World), it has generated more than $30 million in sales for its retail partners while helping to raise more than $3.5 million for schools, sports teams and community organizations across North America.

What’s more, there’s very little the retailer has to do to participate.

“We do a lot of mapping at the start of the relationship, what brands are willing and unwilling to support,” he says. “And then the platform allows us to match the brand with the relevant and appropriate campaigns when they come in. ” (FlipGive also reviews all campaigns to ensure their legitimacy.)

“It’s turnkey,” he says. Fundraisers are the ones who get the word out, encouraging their friends and family to spend their money to support the campaign. Retailers simply create special offers (via their affiliate platform with a give percentage) and then sit back and let people shop.

“Retailers are in a tough spot these days,” he says. “They’re all fighting for a smaller piece of a shrinking pie. Between flat consumer spend, international competitors moving in on their territories, micro-retail and new e-commerce competition, the rivalry has never been more intense. Retailers need new ways to grab share and expand their pie. And I think that’s what we’re giving them.”

FlipGive is a great opportunity for retailers to amp up CSR activities, he adds. “When you sign up to be a FlipGive retail partner, you’re putting your hand up and saying ‘I really care about our customers and what’s happening in our communities. And we care so deeply, we’re embedding it in the way we do business.’”