Australians love nothing more than their sport, whether playing it, watching it or working on the sidelines. The launch of SportCard this month will change the way the more than 10,000 sporting clubs across the country fundraise and how companies choose to sponsor Australian sport.

The brainchild of Ian Lowe, 20-year marketing veteran and most recently group marketing manager, Consumer AV/IT for Sony Australia, SportCard is a response to the fundraising challenge faced by sporting clubs – a grass roots fundraising program where investment really does equal rewards for both clubs and corporate Australia.According to Ian Lowe with SportCard everyone is a winner – the consumer, community, amateur sport and business.

“With millions of Australians being part of a sporting club or association, SportCard harnesses the national passion for sport and corporate Australia’s need to make sporting sponsorships accountable. We created a unique fundraising program that already includes Caltex and Harvey Norman Electrical,” says Lowe.

The SportCard initiative is a mechanism by which local sporting clubs can generate funds by turning a portion of the average household spend on petrol, electronic goods and home wares, FMCG and finance for example, into real dollar returns.

At the same time, with SportCard, companies can directly engage consumers. “With brand marketers under increasing pressure to extract value from their sponsorship dollar, SportCard offers cut-through year round,” says Lowe.

“Having worked with corporate sports sponsorship programs in the past I know it is always tough to measure return on investment. SportCard has been developed so companies can make a real, measurable contribution to sport at a grass roots club level, while still making a quantifiable difference to the bottom line.

“While many companies choose to align with high profile sports and teams for brand visibility, there is a growing trend towards grass roots sport sponsorship that does not signal a shift away from elite sport sponsorship, rather a balance between elite and community level participation.”

Unlike loyalty programs, SportCard offers no rewards points for members. Consumers benefit from special pricing and offers from retail partners as well as fuel offers, with a portion of spending going directly to the registered club of their choice.

Partners benefit with new and loyal customers, and unlike traditional sponsorship, SportCard’s unique platform allows companies to measure all sales made by members by simply logging onto the SportCard website. On a monthly basis, partners are able to check the total number of sales or redemptions online, add new products to their web space, decide on advertising, run exclusive promotions and competitions, and drive their sales further.

Harvey Norman has a long standing commitment to the great Australian sporting tradition, represented at a national level by corporate sponsorship and at community via individual team sponsorships at store level.

“Partnering with SportCard will make a difference where it counts – at a club sport level,” says John Slack-Smith, chief operating officer, Harvey Norman. “We encourage other like-minded, sport loving, community-oriented brands to get on board with the SportCard initiative.”

Involvement with SportCard is not restricted to sporting club members, anyone can get involved – parents, grandparents and friends. Basic membership is free and offers members access to select promotional offers and competitions with a percentage of their purchases going to their sport club.