Go For The Goal (G4G) is a crowdfunding site for equestrian pursuits. That means for anyone who rides, anyone with a horse, competing at low or the highest levels, or offering equestrian services or products.
I came up with the idea for G4G in 2011 after reading an article by a top Canadian equestrian who explained how much it cost to run a horse at a 4-star level for a year. It was in the range of $60,000 or more, and that didn’t include the cost of actually purchasing the horse. It’s an expensive sport, we all know that, but when you fall in love with horses how much money is in your bank account is irrelevant.
I’d also sponsored one of Canada’s top equestrians, Jessica Phoenix, as part of one of her many fundraisers, selling shirts, caps and sweatshirts, and having silent auctions in order to raise the money she needed to go to the Olympics and World Equestrian Games.
The logistics to make those fundraising events happen were incredible, complicated and time consuming.
It seemed to me that in this digital age we live in there had to be better ways to help athletes raise the cash they need to compete at the top level. In fact, I felt there had to be digital ways for these top athletes to reach out to their supporters and their fans in order to help raise the money they needed to compete.
That’s what this site is all about.
I want to help the world’s equestrian athletes to raise the funds they need to compete, to succeed and to win.
When I came up with my idea I hadn’t heard of crowdfunding or Kickstarter or Indiegogo or Gofundme, but that is what I was thinking about. So I decided a site dedicated to equestrians, which would attract horse lovers from all over the world, could be a key way to help athletes and others in the equestrian world raise funds in order to pursue their goals.
So what is a digital reward? There are many and I’ve used much of this technology in my job as a journalist and web editor.
What’s the one thing that equestrian athletes have that everyone wants? Their knowledge and experience. There’s no better way to learn that to be taught by the people who are out there every day riding, training and competing horses.
So how can you use that knowledge and experience to your advantage?
Create instructional videos on all aspects of riding and horse management. Host Google video hangouts with interested sponsors. Publish a monthly newsletter. Create an e-book with tips for riders. Allow riders to send you videos that you then critique and give feedback as to how they can improve. Send sponsors a computer screensaver of you.
The technology that lets us meet up in the ether world of the Internet is fabulous. You can do it all while sitting wherever you are with a decent computer, a video camera, a webcam and an Internet connection.
How is G4G different?
First of all, it's all about horses. People who like horses, like them a lot!
Many crowdfunding sites don’t give you much advice as to how to run a crowdfunding campaign. I will share with any fundraisers my knowledge about how to use social media to your advantage, what you need to do in order to prepare for a crowdfunding campaign, and how you can use digital rewards to get the sponsors you need to reach your financial goals.
It’s also exclusively focused on equestrian pursuits. It will encourage other equestrian enthusiasts to come and take a look at what horse lovers around the world are doing to raise funds for their goals, rather than having to wade through a number of different crowdfunding sites on the Internet.
I also will sell advertising on the site. The visitors to Go for the Goal will be a targeted audience that I feel will attract key advertisers. In addition, 15 per cent of ad dollars will be put into a fund for those fundraising at the time. I will work with advertisers to see how they best want to distribute those dollars via contest or other ways on the site. I will work with advertisers to find the best ways to promote their products while using social media to create a buzz around how their actions will be sponsoring athletes’ goals.
My background is in journalism. I began my career at the student paper at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. After being the Editor-in-Chief of the daily student paper in 1995-96, I moved on to the Financial Post (before it became the National Post). Then I moved on to Dow Jones Newswires, reported at the 1998 Nagano Olympics in Japan. I joined The Canadian Press, where I also did voice work with Broadcast News, and reported on general news, business, and Ontario’s legislature. In 2007 I moved to The Globe and Mail, where I was a copy editor for the Report on Business, a co-editor of the Personal Finance website and now the editor of the Careers website.
As an equestrian, I started riding at age 12. Family friends had a horses and I rode a 25-year-old former barrel racer the first time I sat on a horse. I just felt like it was just the right place for me. I felt so comfortable up there. The horse’s name was Whisky. I fell off the first time I cantered and hopped right back on. I then took lessons with Dreamcrest Farm (then just outside of Claremont, Ont.) with Kelly Plitz and Ian Roberts.
I owned four horses over the next 10 or so years. I started out eventing and loved it. I competed at the Young Riders level in my late teens and early 20s. I was conscious of the costs to compete at that level. When my Young Rider level horse Solidarity showed on and off lameness I borrowed a horse to continue to compete at that level, Glen Abbey owned by the Pococks from London, Ont. In 1992, I worked as a summer student with Yves Landry and I continued to compete both horses, culminating with a spot on Ontario Young Rider Team which competed at the championship at Bromont. It was not my best performance and we were eliminated on cross country.
When I returned to school in the fall I put more attention on my studies than my riding and gradually moved away from competing as I got involved with the student newspaper. I regret that decision now. I wish I had at least continued to ride at some level. I was disappointed that my horse went lame, realizing all the money and time and work that went to waste when that occurred.
I returned to riding about 10 years later, squeezing it in between work and my social life. Now I try to fit it in between work, kids, husband, friends, starting a business (this site) and everything else that needs to be done. It’s a challenge but I know I’m one of many people fitting in their love of horses in their spare time all over the world.
My hope is that this site will be successful enough to allow me to ride more and help more equestrians around the globe pursue their dreams.