An athlete's journey to an Olympic Games is filled with triumph, tragedy and old-fashioned hard work, and it is our duty to do all we can to help the athletes realise their Olympic dream
Phil Andrews
Phil Andrews has been chief executive of USA Weightlifting since April 2016, having previously served as director of programmes and events. He is a member of the membership commission of the International Weightlifting Federation.
The importance of fundraising and sponsorship for national governing bodies
4th December 2019, 09:03

Without fundraising, membership and sponsorship, minority national governing bodies (NGBs) would cease to exist, especially when government or National Olympic Committee (NOC) funding is at 4% or less.

To compete in elite sport, athletes must have sufficient backing to allow them access to high-quality facilities, coaching, conditioning, nutrition, and much more.
There will always be discrepancies across sports with certain countries able to invest far greater resources than others, but as the chief executive of USA Weightlifting, one of my roles is to ensure that we make every penny count.

It is an exciting time for the sport globally and the countdown to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is well and truly on for Team USA.

Doping has been a major talking point in the sport for several decades and previously deterred sponsors from investing, but with the help of the dedicated staff at USA Weightlifting, we have been able to transform our culture and help fight back against the cheats while remaining competitive. 

We enjoyed our best showing for 28 years at the 2019 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships in Thailand.


While an Olympic Games requires great investment, it is sponsorship deals with likeminded organisations that is critical to the long-term success of an NGB. 


Competing at an Olympic Games can be a very costly business, however, which is why we launched our #TokyoStrong campaign earlier this year to help raise funds to support athlete travel, build a training facility in Tokyo and provide additional key support staff.

An athlete's journey to an Olympic Games is filled with triumph, tragedy and old-fashioned hard work, and it is our duty to do all we can to help the athletes realise their Olympic dream.

While an Olympic Games requires great investment, it is sponsorship deals with likeminded organisations that is critical to the long-term success of an NGB. The #TokyoStrong campaign has been assisted in its fundraising by a number of USA Weightlifting sponsors including Ascent Protein, the first-ever performance nutrition partner of USA Weightlifting, that initially helped to provide clean products to support muscle health and recovery.

We raised $350,000 in under four months to kick off the #TokyoStrong campaign, but still have plenty of work to do to reach our target for the Games.
We recently finalised a fundraiser in Grand Central Station, New York, and some of our weightlifters will be appearing in Times Square as part of the Team USA 100 Days Out celebration which we hope will secure some important TV exposure.

Although some of the largest global brands associate themselves with the Olympic Games from Coca Cola to Samsung and Visa to Omega, it is a different story for minority sports like ours.

However, we have done a great deal to regain our financial health and have increased revenue by nearly $2m annually overall in the past three years.

Sponsorship cash has trebled during my tenure as chief executive and we will continue to explore every avenue to provide a better future for our athletes, who will always be at the heart of what we do. As a small organisation, the focus of our funds is and always will be the athletes before the administrators. 


If you earn the trust of coaches, athletes and administrators, you create a collaborative environment where everyone works together to drive progress.  

 

Every quarter we publish operational financials for the organisation, and I believe we are the only NGB that does this.

If you earn the trust of coaches, athletes and administrators, you create a collaborative environment where everyone works together to drive progress.

Without the #TokyoStrong campaign, there is no way that we would be able to build a customised training facility in the Japanese capital, but I believe it is essential for our athletes.

At the London 2012 Olympic Games, I managed the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) High-Performance Centre which helped athletes prepare for the Games.

With so many NOCs fighting for space in the Japanese capital, however, the USOPC’s facility is too far from the athlete village, specifically for weightlifting athletes when Tokyo traffic gets busy, and personal coaches are only able to be with their athletes on competition day in official venues.

The USOPC creates a great facility but has to cater to the needs of every sport, so this leaves us needing to ensure we provide the very best specifically for weightlifting athletes in central Tokyo.

Creating a specific training facility for USA Weightlifting will also allow us to offer access to a wide range of media, something that is heavily restricted in the majority of other venues at an Olympic Games.

Away from elite level competition, it is important to have a thriving grassroots system in place and we have invested heavily in increasing our membership and improving the way they are treated. This can only be done with the help of sponsors and part of my role is actively sourcing investors throughout the year.

We want our athletes to spend their time training, conditioning, and preparing for competitions in the best possible way without having to worry about funding or the cost of competing.

I’ve always lived by the adage that the sport is the business and never to focus on business over the sport, and will continue to lead by that mantra.

Sportcal