Partnership With Omaze Allows Both Athletes And Fans To Chase Shiny Prizes
Donations through the online fundraiser help Team USA bobsled and skeleton athletes win medals and give fans a chance at fabulous rewards.
By Karen Price
Red Line Editorial
For many fans of bobsled and skeleton, a huge part of the appeal is watching athletes careen down the icy track at top speeds most people could only imagine going outside of a motorized vehicle.
It just so happens that a few lucky USA Bobsled & Skeleton fans are now the proud owners of speedy, top-of-the-line motorized vehicles of their own thanks to a three-year partnership between USABS and online fundraising platform Omaze. Since announcing the collaboration a year ago, two fans have won BMW cars and one a BMW motorcycle through online sweepstakes that have also brought much-needed dollars to the program.
“What Omaze has allowed us to do is to engage fans and engage people that are supporters of our U.S. bobsled and skeleton athletes in a nontraditional way, and hopefully they win a vehicle,” said USA Bobsled & Skeleton CEO Aron McGuire. “But if not, they’re helping to support U.S. athletes so it really is a win-win. If they’re driving around a brand-new BMW we’re excited for them, and if not they can sleep well knowing their investment is going to a great place in terms of helping support U.S. athletes.”
Omaze, based in Los Angeles, is the brainchild of Ryan Cummins and Matt Pohlson. They were still in business school when they got the idea to take the fabulous prizes, vacations and celebrity experiences offered at lavish fundraisers that only the wealthy could afford to attend and make them available to the masses in a way that still raised money for nonprofits. Now, although a donation isn’t necessary to win, anyone can go to omaze.com and find one of dozens of nonprofits to support and earn multiple chances to win big prizes by donating money.
Of the money raised, part goes to paying for the prize itself, part goes to Omaze and part goes to the nonprofit. Since its launch in 2012, Omaze has generated more than $130 million for charity.
One criteria for choosing the organizations to partner with, Pohlson said, is the secondary impacts of their support. For instance, an after-school program could help kids go to college, get an education, start businesses and support their communities.
In the case of USA Bobsled & Skeleton, the first Olympic organization with which Omaze has partnered, the biggest secondary impact is inspiration.
“We are directly impacting athletes pursuing their dreams who wouldn’t have the resources otherwise, but the ripple effect of watching Olympic athletes pursue their dreams is that we’re reminded of our own dreams and reminded of what’s possible,” Pohlson said. “It’s a source of optimism. We believe that can help fuel others to see things they thought of as impossible as possible. Everyone gets a benefit. We’re helping athletes pursue their dreams and we get to watch them inspire others.”
Another benefit to partnering with Omaze, McGuire said, is that it helps raise awareness of USA Bobsled & Skeleton’s mission and the program in general. Funding the program costs hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to pay for everything from sleds, which in and of themselves can cost between $60,000 and $80,000, to travel expenses to coaches and staff.
“I often tell people that in the United States we’re really one of the only Olympic movements or National Olympic Committees that receives no government funding so we’re going up against countries that have much deeper pockets than us and are more well-resourced than us. Just like the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, we’re funded by Americans. We’re Team USA and we’re fortunate to have our partners, our sponsors and our individual donors. Those are the three groups that really help to support our athletes’ achievements on an international level.”
With COVID-19 impacting the ability to gather for in-person events and more traditional means of fundraising, virtual and online options have become even more important for nonprofits.
Pohlson said they feel grateful to be able to help.
“It’s a really weird time for charities that don’t have the dollars they usually have coming in,” he said. “At the same time, people feel more interconnected than they ever have before and people want to dream more. That’s been helpful for some of the impact we’ve had over the last year.”
To visit USA Bobsled & Skeleton’s page at Omaze and stay up-to-date on their latest sweepstakes, visit:
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.