How does your club share best experience with others?

Does your club operate in a silo? By silo I mean an attitude found in some organisations that occurs when several departments or groups do not want to share information or knowledge with other individuals in the same organisation. A silo mentality reduces efficiency and can be a contributing factor to failure of the organisation.

So taking this two ways you can consider whether your club itself has a silo mentality (men’s, ladies and junior sections all being operated by a different committee for example) and whether your club has a silo mentality in terms of working with other sports clubs in the area to share experiences.

Starting at a club level there are so many benefits to sharing best practice you don’t have to delve too far to understand the benefits. It is probably more pertinent to understand the barriers to sharing and start to build bridges (or break down those barriers).  Communication is key and if you do one thing at your next committee meeting to address this, ask a representative from each section of your club to share their top three club management tips with the rest of the group.  This will be interesting for all to hear and should be used as a catalyst for sharing best practice and devising a wider club plan of action.

Externally to the club is more challenging, after all what benefits can be derived from talking to other clubs?

Unfortunately as we don’t all make opportunities to meet with other club administrators in an informal setting we may not be aware that these meetings often do present us with great ideas.  Not only ideas, but what about getting together to arrange training (for example first aid) sharing costs and making this more affordable for all.  Can you capitalise on purchasing power; if a few clubs get together this presents them with a better opportunity to negotiate, for example sports equipment,  bar products, kit suppliers, printing suppliers etc.  Would the promise of advertising exposure to ten clubs provide you with more take up than just one club.  Perhaps you can produce a local member directory listing all local sponsors and capitalise on the fees you charge businesses to advertise in this.

So just one word of encouragement, spread your net a little wider and see what benefits you will get for your club.

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Posted in management, members, officals, Sports Clubs, Uncategorized

Social events, keeping the club alive…

As I see it there are a number of reasons for organising social events as part of club life.

  • Ice breaker for new members at the beginning of a season
  • Fund raiser for a specific item or just generally for club funds
  • To help keep the club facilities thriving (for example if you have your own bar, you want to make sure it is being used)
  • To celebrate success, bringing the whole club together
  • Encouraging inter team interaction to build club spirit

When you arrange an event it is useful to have in mind what your key purpose for that event is.  That way you can plan for success and monitor the results to make sure the time and effort put in to organising the event pays off for the club.

Take the first example above, an ice breaker for new members.  How are you going to ensure this hits the mark and engages your new members?  The danger is that old members will have a fabulous time catching up, whilst new members struggle to get involved.  What can you do?  Make sure this event is an interactive event, maybe a quiz or games evening.  Ensure new members are teamed up with current members and that team captains are capable of involving any new members fully within the activity.

With fund raisers always have a target in mind for the amount you want to raise.  Utilise the competitiveness you will have within your club to drive each squad to contribute.  Be organised to ensure you have all the tools at hand for the event and encourage participation and off the cuff creativity from all.

Keeping the club facilities alive is getting more and more difficult for all,  anyone running a bar will understand the challenge.  Again involve your members, they all have friends and family members who can be encouraged to events.  If a team own an activity they are more likely to bring in an audience/sell tickets because of their ownership than perhaps the club committee.  When you come across an event that works well, don’t flog it to death but schedule it into your social calendar as appropriate to keep it fresh and popular.

Celebrate all successes whether for the juniors, seniors or veterans.  Celebrations are important to club spirit, which in turn is important in keeping your club members happy and fulfilled (and not wanting to join another club).  Celebrations can include presentation events and end of season events. If you don’t have your own club house, try and support your sponsors by using their facilities where appropriate.

Inter team interaction* is essential and the bigger the club, the greater the importance.  When you have members switching between squads, you need them to know their fellow members and to be comfortable slotting in.  If you are in a large club it is more likely that you will not know members of the next squad up or down, and for a youngster moving squad can be a difficult transition.  Dedicate a couple of events to inter team interaction, encouraging members to interact with different groups and get to know others.  As committee members lead by example and go out of your comfort zone at these events to engage with members you may not know so well.

Social events, when well managed, are a great way to maintain a positive club atmosphere and make your club an attractive place to be a member.  Variety, planning and review are your three markers for success.

*An example of an icebreaker for this type of event is to ask every member before the event to write down one fact about themselves that no-one else knows (for example “I climbed Snowdon when I was 10”).  Then compile these facts into a list and members have to find out who each statement belongs to without using the key words.  So for example they couldn’t ask “have you ever climbed a mountain” but could ask “did you go to Wales as a child”.  Members have a set amount of time to work out who each statement belongs to and as such end up speaking to as many people as they can.

Posted in Events, management, members, Sports Clubs

Managing Spectator Behaviour

I’m sure that at some stage in your playing or coaching career you have witnessed inappropriate behaviour from spectators. Regardless of the size of club or your crowd, it only takes one bad apple to spoil the cart.

We need to recognise that there is a fine balance between an enthusiastic and exuberant crowd and support that becomes negative or over-powering. In extreme cases spectators can be verbally abusive or physically aggressive, spoiling the game for everyone.

So how does you club counter bad behaviour?

I suggest you have a code of conduct that covers the behaviour of members and parents. This can clearly layout the expectations of the club for behaviour by members, parents/family members attending and for non-members.

What behaviours will not be tolerated (for example)

  • using bad language
  • harassing or ridiculing players, coaches, officials or other spectators
  • making racist, religious, sexist or other inappropriate comments to players, coaches, officials or other spectators
  • any threatening behaviour or physical altercation between spectators and players, coaches, officials or other spectators
  • putting undue pressure on children, berating them or putting down their performance

How you as a club will promote good behaviour (for example)

  • Provide members, their parents and other sporting personnel access to a clear Code of Behaviour and make clear what is expected and the consequences of non-compliance.
  • Prominently display conditions of entry to grounds and facilities (specifically targeting non-members) and by requiring parents to abide by club rules
  • Reinforce messages of fair and respectful behaviour by displaying signs and posters around the club, on the club website, in newsletters and through other club communications
  • Encourage coaches and officials to complete training to develop their skills and confidence in dealing with potential issues
  • Encourage the reporting of incidents and investigate inappropriate behaviours

The biggest challenge you will face is enforcing this policy when many of your spectators may not be club members.  If you can find a way of binding parents to your code, work closely with visiting clubs to agree to actively manage any issues and clearly publicise your expectations at points of entry, you are well on the way to stamping out potential issues.

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Posted in Events, management, members, Sports Clubs, Uncategorized

The importance of budget preparation

It goes without saying that all clubs should have a budget as we need to match our incomings with our outgoings to stay afloat.  The two key reasons are for cash flow planning (essential given the seasonality of sport) and for financial review (to understand how well you are performing against plan).

The budget can be as simple as a one page document with month columns across the top, and expected income and expenses filled in on the appropriate month. If you have access to a computer, an excel spreadsheet is an efficient tool for preparing your budget.  Clearly the more experience you have within the club in terms of members with financial backgrounds the more comprehensive your budget can be.

However for the layman here are just a few points to consider when preparing your budget:

  • Is the timing of membership income correct?
    Despite membership fees being due in a certain month, it may take another few months for all the fees to be paid.  Can you afford to offer instalment plans or do you need full payment up front?
  • When is sponsorship money (if applicable) received?
    Some sponsors may pay a set amount each month rather than in a lump sum.  Ensure that whoever is negotiating the sponsor deals understands the requirements of the club in terms of payment plans. 
  • Is the amount estimated for expenses realistic?
    The results from previous years may provide a guide, however many expenses will increase each year.  It is tempting to put in lower amounts to help balance the budget but wherever possible get accurate estimates or allow a % for inflation. Ask those responsible for negotiating purchase deals to keep you fully informed with negotiations and advise you promptly of any notifications they receive relating to costs. 
  • Are any expenses dependent on the number of members?
    If so you need to speak to the membership secretary to find out the current member breakdown and understand from the committee the plan for expansion or maintenance of the current member base.  On the converse income is related to the number of members so this will work both for income and expenditure.
  • Your budget should include any initial large expenses such as stock purchase (for example if you have a bar or shop) or new team kit (if the club are changing supplier for example) 
  • Ensure you are fully aware of the club plan for the year.  Planned events, whilst major money earners can also incur large up front costs.  Be aware of the timings and include these one off costs within your budget plan. 
  • You should always plan to have a minimum balance in the bank for any emergencies that arise.

Once the budget is set and agreed, it is not written in stone.  So review regularly along with the rest of the committee to maintain a healthy bank account!

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Posted in Accounting, management, Sports Clubs

Health and Safety – who’s in control?

Now whilst I don’t pretend to be an expert in health and safety, I have been around clubs for long enough to know the importance of paying heed to our responsibilities in terms of health and safety*.  So today’s post concentrates on just some of the things your club could be doing to minimise your risks.

I would suggest that the first port of call should always be your sports National Governing Body (NGB).  Affiliation is key and depending upon your sport may carry the benefits of public liability insurance cover, guidance on health and safety procedures, advice on suitable equipment and rule changes, access to officials, coaching resources and training. However never assume the scope of the benefits received as part of affiliation, check what is and isn’t included with NGB affiliation on an annual basis.

Secondly consider your duty of care,  this covers more than just providing your sport at your venue to your members and should cover activities such as:

  • Loaning equipment to others
  • Fundraising activities (sponsored runs, walks etc)
  • Hosting fixtures, tournaments and competitions
  • Selling food at events
  • Having spectators at matches and tournaments

It is a given that the club committee should provide a safe environment for all Club activities from the normal training and match day activity to social events and tours. The Committee should ensure that your safety policy, procedures and codes of practice are up to date and that this information is communicated effectively to members. You should also ensure that the risks associated with all Club activities have been considered, reported and are reviewed annually.

Now whilst this sounds like a lot of hard work, once the initial assessment is made and the club procedure written, it just requires someone to sense check and review on a regular basis.

Consider who holds responsibility for each of the following areas:

  • Club Safety Policy
  • Risk Assessments
  • Code of Conduct
  • Accident Reporting
  • Training
  • Management of Activities
  • Equipment safety
  • Travel policy
  • Child Welfare policy

It is well worth convening a meeting of those responsible to check that all is up to date so that you have the security of moving forwards knowing your club is compliant and a safe place for your members to be.

*Please do take further advice from your NGB and / or independent health and safety experts who can help you ensure you are compliant with all legislation,

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Posted in management, Sports Clubs

Fundraising some hints and tips

Surely we all face the same battle each year; with costs of facility hire, transport and kit going up, how can we balance the books without having to charge extortionate fees to our members?

Fundraising can be the most rewarding and enjoyable way of raising the much needed funds either for a specific project or just to help with general running costs of the club.  What’s more, done well it also helps to build the social and communal side of the club; it’s a great way to encourage cross team activity, bringing members of all ages together to participate in a wide range of activities and events.  I have to underline though it has to be DONE WELL…

Here are my top ten tips for fundraising:

  1. Appoint a fundraising secretary – do not underestimate how important this role is, without someone taking the helm all efforts will struggle and the plan will fall down around your ears.
  2.  Set a fund raising target and make sure EVERYONE is aware of it, keep a running total and publicise it on a central notice-board and on the club’s website.
  3. Get a volunteer from each team to work with the fundraising secretary, this role is not hard and involves simple tasks such as passing on information about events, selling tickets and encouraging people to attend the events and activities.
  4. Have a team challenge throughout the year to see which team can generate the most fundraising ideas with a forfeit for the losing team (maybe they have to decorate the changing rooms in the off season, run the bar for the next big event or perform in fancy dress at the AGM!).
  5. Find out more about your members; where do they work, what do their partners/parents do? You may find a number of hidden talents in the ranks, but you almost certainly will find some business owners/ corporate giants who may save you money on printing, food costs, t-shirts etc
  6. Set a calendar of events, too many events is as bad as too few – aim for a broad range of events that will appeal to a wide audience.   Make sure events are varied and don’t always rely on the member dipping into their wallet.
  7. Remember your junior section; you will have so much enthusiasm within this group not just from the kids but also from the parents, make sure you harness this and get them involved too.
  8. Appeal to local businesses, suggest ways in which they could help, maybe they could provide you with raffle prizes, sponsor some signage, advertise in your newsletter or put a poster up in their window promoting your next event?
  9. Get publicity, work the local media – done well this can bring many benefits to your club.  Check out the type of stories covered in your local paper, journalists like the human interest angle, great photo opportunities or unusual activities so think about how your event may appeal to them.  You just need to see how much coverage the two wing walkers have got this week (not that I am encouraging wing walking!)
  10. Utilise an external fundraising opportunity such as easyfundraising where there are hundreds of pounds to be made just by encouraging your members to mention them when shopping online.  This needs to be driven by your fundraising representatives to encourage and remind members (especially around Christmas time when lots of online shopping will take place).


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Posted in Events, management, Sports Clubs

You’re in the 3rd team this week….. the importance of the selection conversation

We want to retain our members but one of the biggest reasons for member dissatisfaction is the feeling that they are not playing at the right level or in the right squad.  When a player is “dropped” there are many reasons for this, but if we never have the “selection conversation”, the member may begin to get disillusioned and this is when we are in danger of losing that member to another club.

I want all my members to be happy, but to do this I need the help of others in my club.  I can’t have all the conversations and I don’t have all the answers (much as I wish I did).

So what is your policy relating to selection?  If you are dropping a player, who tells them that they are dropped?  Is this their current captain or does the captain of the team they are dropped to call them, “hi, you’re playing for me on Saturday”.

I worry if it is the latter, because that captain may not be fully aware of the history relating to why that player has been dropped.  If it is the former, their current captain, that provides a much better platform for the conversation.  When planning that discussion it is essential that the coach/team manager are able to contribute so that it is as constructive as possible.

As a player what would I like to hear?

  • How long this is likely to be for?
  • What aspects of my game do I need to work on?
  • What support/coaching is there for me to help me work on any development needs?

It’s useful if all your captains follow the same process and don’t shy away from the “selection conversation”.  Why not discuss this at your next selection meeting and agree the best policy for your own club.

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Posted in members, officals, Sports Clubs