Many organisations, especially those run by volunteers are so busy organising their activity/sport for their participants that promoting the good work they do and nurturing relationships with key stakeholders often gets forgotten. This is understandable, but if this is something that resonates with your organisation/club, you need to allocate some time and resources to it or it will put you at a disadvantage.
It is also easy to think that those key stakeholders should be aware of what you do simply because it is happening in their area but very often, they are unaware, and it's these key stakeholders that are frequently gatekeepers for opportunities and funding.
The key stakeholders that will be relevant to your organisation/ club will vary depending on your own circumstances but usually include your local authority, councillors, the governing body, the county sports partnerships, the local housing or residents’ association and other community organisations in your neighbourhood. It is important that you maintain a good relationship with them and keep them updated on your plans and ambitions.
In any relationship you have to be able to see things from each other’s perspective, for example as frustrating as council processes can be, getting angry that things are not progressing as fast as you like is unlikely to make things move any faster and will only make them less likely to deal with you in the future.
I recently completed a Community Infrastructure Levy funding application for Cobham FC towards a 3G pitch project. Due to Covid-19, the opportunity to present in person to the decision-making panel was removed. The meeting was screened online and whilst you could watch the meeting, there was no opportunity to answer the queries that came up during the discussion. What struck me about the process while watching, was that the club's prior work on building good relationships with their local authority and councillors played a large part in the success of the application. It was the councillor’s knowledge of the club and their good reputation that meant everyone on the panel voted for them to receive the funding all £250,000 funding that we asked for.
In another example, Tooting & Mitcham United FC have engaged their local housing association on their steering group for a community pavilion they operate. This has resulted in the housing association having a better awareness of what the facility and club can offer, which has led them to highlight local funding opportunities and introduce them to other key partners.
The key point I am hopefully making is that it is important to know who your key stakeholders are, have regular communication and ensure you respect the other party’s role or viewpoint. If your organisation/club needs some guidance on starting this process get in touch.