Community sport, like society, has changed a lot in the last 20 years. There is new ways to raise money, recruit volunteers and operate more effectively. However, community clubs can be resistant to change, making it difficult for them to thrive.
Running a club can be demanding at the best of times, but if you have a committee or individuals who are resistant to change it can be near impossible to thrive.
So, is your community sporting club resistant to change? Here are some signs to look out for:
Very little or poor planning
Every community sporting organisation needs to have an eye to the future. Planning for future facility upgrades, strategic growth, committee succession or upcoming events is crucial to maintaining a sense of momentum and motivation.
Unfortunately, planning is one area that can be easily pushed aside when the week-to-week pressures grow. The club, or a couple of influential individuals can be resistant to any major change. 'We've done it this way for years' is a common phrase that just doesn't cut it.
If you feel like your community club has been doing the same thing for years with little to no results, something has to change. If you don't plan for it, it won't happen. Set some time in the calendar for your club and inject some planning to generate some forward motion.
A lack of innovation
If your club is still using the same technology as ten years ago with no plan to make improvements; there may be some underlying issue at play.
Implementing new technology can make your club stand out to potential new members or participants, as well as making life easier for volunteers. This can mean major changes which can fosters resistance. New technology must be embraced, and there are many ways your club can be better using technology.
Technology should be involved across all areas of your club's operations, fundraising and administration. Whether it be through moving committee administration, payments and database online with a platform like TidyHQ; making information more readily available through your website or social media; or introducing new online fundraising platforms like the Australian Sports Foundation.
Chances are there is some technology that can be introduced across most areas of your organisation, so we suggest to review your current operations and investigate what can be used.
You could also ask what technology or platforms other clubs are using in the CLUBMAP Community Facebook Group, an online forum to share or ask anything relating to community sport.
A lack of communication
Poor communication is often at the core of many struggling organisations. If your club's committee, coaches, or leadership don’t communicate effectively internally, or with members, volunteers, participants, or parents; it can lead to a breakdown in trust and support for the club.
Regular communication through social media, updating the club website, or through a newsletter is important to keeping your community engaged. Members are invested in your club and want to hear what’s happening.
Internal communication at community organisations often hasn’t evolved with society either. We still hear from clubs that only communicate at committee meetings. Set your club up on an online platform with all necessary documents and files in the cloud, and ensure that everyone is on a messenger app to communicate more regularly and effectively.
If your club is failing to communicate internally or with the wider community because things are just running ‘as usual’, it could be because they are resistant to change. It doesn’t take long for things to turn and changing your communication is a great way to build trust.
A decline in participation
Is your club struggling to attract or retain players or participants? If so, this is likely to be a by-product of other underlying pressures at the club. A strong club culture, welcoming atmosphere, affordable registration or membership fees, as well as access to quality facilities is key to maintaining participation levels, all of which can be overlooked when volunteers are bogged down with the week-to-week and mounting work load.
Change is required to address any of those areas. Implementing steps to improve culture or facilities can help your club tackle many of the issues that lead to a decline in participation. Good culture, behaviours and atmosphere must be driven by leadership and is often a direct correlation to club values.
Facilities are really a major focus until it’s too late. Most major projects can take 5-7 years from concept to completion, so if your facilities and infrastructure is falling behind now, imagine what it might be like in 2030.
Financial issues and growing debt
Financial issues and mounting debt is often due to poor financial controls, reporting and a lack of revenue. The treasurer’s role is a thankless one, and one that does require a certain skill set or adequate training. With minimal training and no financial background, coupled with no budget or appropriate controls, the role gets even harder.
Then the snowball starts rolling.
Old-fashioned, hard work fundraisers don’t quite achieve the target. The club can’t afford a bill to the council or association, and the knee-jerk reaction is to pass the costs onto participants with fee increases.
Every club should have a budget in place, and followed. Additional financial controls should be implemented, particularly if financial pressure is being felt. Make the changes needed to keep your organisation viable.