In addition to regular funding by your members through subscriptions, there are other opportunities and ideas to raise money for your club.
So whether you're looking for a new sports club kit, new equipment or tools, more staff or to renovate your club premises, this article will tell you what fundraising sources there are and how you can go about securing funding for your club.
What types of fundraising ideas are there?
There are several different types of fundraising ideas available and you can often combine them (getting sponsorship doesn't necessarily stop you from crowdfunding).
The key thing is to never claim for the same cost twice. For example, if your sponsorship is for getting new kit for the team, don't crowdfund for the same thing as this can cause mistrust. In the case of government and public sector funding, it may also be illegal. With funding, much like any other aspect of running the club, transparency and honesty are key.
Let's look at each type of fundraising idea in turn.
Getting a private sector company or body to cover your costs can be mutually-beneficial if you're clear from the outset what they will get for their money.
We've covered attracting sponsorship in our guide to starting a club.
The key take-aways are:
- be clear what you're trying to achieve with your club
- understand what costs you want the sponsor to cover
- do your background research on each sponsor and finding ways to use that in your application
- treat sponsors individually and respectfully - a "Dear Sir/Madam" letter is, at best, going to get your application treated indifferently - stand out!
This Sport Wales Club Solutions article, in particular, is also worth reading.
2. Community Project
Project funding is great for getting funding for a specific idea or a set of outcomes.
You'll usually pitch for community grant funding on a project-by-project basis. Your application will be reviewed by an assessor, or panel of assessors, against set criteria their organisation has for awarding grants. The assessors will be financial representatives from the organisations awarding the money, as well as sector experts who may have delivered this type of project before (or at least understand the detail of what you're trying to achieve).
Grants can be awarded by Government or council-run schemes, but as we'll see shortly, also by philanthropic trusts run on behalf of wealthy individuals, family estates, or corporations.
Public sector grants will usually specifically outline the types of project that their fund can support, for example, specifically to enhance sport facilities in deprived areas. A quick scan of a fund's overall objectives will soon tell you whether it's a good fit for your club and therefore worth the time putting together an application for it.
Trusts will also indicate the types of project activity they will consider, but these are likely to be more broad, such as scientific research and advancement, fitness and mental wellbeing, academic support and improvement. This makes it quick and easy to rule a trust in or out on your application shortlist.
Whoever you apply to for club funding, the assessor(s) will want to know what you plan to do, for whom, and what the benefits and outcomes of your activity will be.
We'll go into this in a bit more detail further on.
If you're not already familiar with crowdfunding, it's where you advertise your funding request on the web and you receive donations or micropayments from interested donors from the general public. It can be a powerful way to raise money, given that you potentially have global reach, and it may be easier to convince several hundred people to donate a small amount of money rather than securing thousands as a grant, for example.
In the same way that commercial projects can be crowdfunded on sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, so can club and community projects. There are plenty to choose from, too! For example:
You can set out different levels of contribution which attract different levels of benefits or rewards. Maybe top-tier donors get an invite to an exclusive event, or everyone but the lowest level gets club stickers, or something similar.
One thing to bear in mind is that receiving the donation is not the end of the story. Donors will expect regular updates and may ask questions around how the money is being spent, so be ready to set aside time to prepare that information. Of course you'll want to update people on how the project is going anyway, regardless of how you fund it, so this shouldn't be much of a burden.
Important: when setting up a crowd funder, remember to investigate the platform's service fees or card fees, as these will usually be deducted from the total amount you receive.
The Fundraising Regulator for England, Wales and Northern Ireland has guidance for online fundraising, which is worth a read, as is their Code of Fundraising Practice.
Fundraising in Scotland is overseen by the Scottish Fundraising Standards Panel.
4. Match funding / matched giving
Larger employers sometimes offer match funding schemes to their employees. Match funding is where you raise money for a local charity or community group and the employer matches what you raise, boosting the total. Ask your club members, friends and family if their employer offers a scheme like this.
You can find out more about match funding at the Charities Aid Foundation, including how to introduce an employer to its benefits.
5. Capital Project
Capital fundraising is for significant items of investment, for example if you were rebuilding your training premises, or having significant groundwork done. Because of the sums of money involved, these larger projects are usually developed in conjunction with a fundraising consultant, to ensure that all the criteria are met and the paperwork properly completed.
6. Hardship Grants
If your club is suffering financial hardship, there are special schemes which can assist to help prevent the club from folding. These have become more prominent since the Coronavirus pandemic, as lots of clubs have fixed, ongoing costs, but significantly-reduced (or no) membership subscriptions or income to cover them.
As a result, some emergency funding schemes have been set up by sports national governing bodies as well as governments, so if your club has yet to claim any support, see if you're eligible. You can find a list of hardship resources in part 2 below.
Some grants will contribute towards lost revenue or income. These are rarer than project grants, but much of the emergency Coronavirus support funding would fall into this category.
A list of fundraising schemes & grants for clubs
There are a lot of places to find funding for your club. Below are some great starting points and solid examples of the sorts of things you can find, but do your own specific searching for your club's sport or sector and you'll be amazed at what you can find.
If you have one, your club's national governing body is a great place to start, because in addition to their own funding schemes, they can point you to your local association (e.g. a football association or league) or local foundation's funding too.
- Club Solutions Wales has an extensive list of grant schemes, some of which are national and some just for Wales
- The Gregg's Foundation (yes, the bakers) Hardship Fund Application (they also have a specific grants for organisations in England's North East)
- Made By Sport's Clubs In Crisis Fund (will direct you to your local community foundation to apply)
- Grants Online database Coronavirus grants index
Start with Sport England's Return To Play Fund. Check if your own sport or interest has its own specific scheme. Here are some that we found:
- Football (The FA - direct PDF download which lists a number of funds and initiatives)
- Rugby (list of grants, support and finder tools)
3. Northern Ireland
- Sport NI Build Back Better funding
- The Community Foundation Open Grants & Programmes
- Football (FA funding page)
- Moore Coronavirus Support Hub
- Sport Scotland Funding index
- Foundation Scotland Clubs in Crisis Fund (round 2 closes on 31 August 2021)
- SCVO Funding Scotland
- Rugby (club funding opportunities)
- Football (Scottish Football Partnership Trust)
- Sport Wales Club Solutions is a great resource for sports clubs based in Wales. In addition to grants and funding advice, it's full of guidance on how to run your club, its meetings, and manage its finances too.
- Sport Wales Be Active Wales Fund
- Wales Council for Voluntary Action summarises the schemes they have available to support you.
- Funding.Wales is the search engine to turn up funding opportunities specific to your sector (free registration required).
6. The National Lottery Funding
One of the benefits to setting up the UK's National Lottery back in 1994 was that it would benefit local communities and projects (in addition to the select few winners who become millionaires!).
Their funding index page has everything you need to understand what kind of schemes they run, what you'll need to consider, and how to apply.
7. Grants Online
Doing exactly what is says on the tin, Grants Online is a database of... grants online! You can subscribe to their newsletter to be kept up-to-date, but you'll want to dive into the Grants Search section in the menu bar.
8. Grant Finder
You have to hand it to these platforms for being aptly-named. Similar to the above, Grant Finder will help you locate funding opportunities for your club. They've also got a councillor's guide to securing funding (free registration required to read this).
Sported is a UK-wide charity which promotes "fairness and equity for young people through grassroots sport and physical activity". They've supported over 2,600 community groups in some the UK's most deprived areas.
10. Your club's own fundraising events
Charity starts at home. You may already have a dedicated set of followers who want to support you, so holding your own fundraising events is a great chance to get them together. You can find tons of fundraising event ideas for your club here.
11. Corporate Social Responsibility programmes
Corporations often run grant and other financial support schemes through their philanthropic corporate social responsibility schemes. Some of the biggest and best are run by UK supermarkets and food businesses:
- Asda Foundation
- Co-op Local Community Fund
- The Greggs Foundation
- Lidl local initiatives and partnerships (donations/sponsorships)
- Morrisons Foundation
- Tesco Community Grants
- Ocado Charitable Giving (£50 voucher for Covid-secure fundraising events)
- Ocado Foundation For Good (via BizGive)
Note: Sainsbury's and Aldi directly support named, dedicated charities rather than accepting applications for funding.
12. Match funding (employers)
The Guy's and St Thomas' Foundation has a list of employers (PDF download) who provide match funding to their employees (mainly banks and telecoms companies). Ask your members, friends and families if any of their employers are listed here.
13. Other grant-awarding bodies
- Comic Relief (most programmes currently closed, but bookmark and revisit)
- Garfield Weston Foundation (welcomes applications all year round)
- The Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts (refer to the supported activities)
- The Wolfson Foundation - nominally for places and people, but they support capital infrastructure grants, so ideal if you're capital fundraising.
The Edge Fund has a huge list of UK trusts and grant-awarding bodies. Not all of these will be relevant, but search the page for "community" to find bodies who may support your club.
14. Hardship funds
Your organisation's national governing body, local association, and local council/authority are all great places to find hardship or emergency funding. A quick Google will help you find the options available in your area, just search for:
Or just click here: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales
You can also find details of club hardship funding schemes categorised under "Coronavirus" on Grants Online.
See The Greggs Foundation too (already mentioned in the National section above).
15. Local donors and organisations
UK Community Foundations is a charity that helps pair projects with local donors, and is the fourth largest funder in the UK, distributing over £1bn in grants.
16. Local authority
- In England and Wales you can start at the Gov.UK page Applying For Funding For Community Projects, which will direct you to your local authority's website.
- In Scotland, check the Scottish Government's Community Empowerment Programme as well as your local council website.
- Northern Ireland: find your local council website.
17. Affiliate programmes
Some shopping portals now allow your friends, family and members to shop using their site, with affiliate commission paid to the club. The more they shop at supported stores and websites, the more the club can earn. This can be a great, free and ongoing way to generate income for the club.
Similarly, Payzip's referral programme allows your club (or you) to earn money from clubs you refer who use the system. Commission is paid on each card payment a club receives for as long as the club uses Payzip, so a potential long-term income stream for your club.
Find out more at www.payzip.co.uk/affiliates
18. The Freemasons
The Masonic Charitable Foundation awards grants to charities and organisations, so you may be able to get help here, particularly if your club works with children, young people, or socially-isolated and lonely older people.
19. Local councillors budgets
Local councillors can sponsor applications for larger grant funding and often have a small budget to support voluntary and not-for-profit organisations. For example, in East Hampshire, District Councillors receive a budget of £4,500 for those with a charitable or community goal.
If you haven't already set up your club, see our guide on this. Your club's legal structure will determine whether you can apply for some grants and other funding.
How to create your fundraising strategy
1. Select your funders
Go through the sources in part 2 and choose which grants sound suitable, add them to your longlist.
2. Check your eligibility
Before investing significant time in preparing your application, double-check the eligibility criteria to make sure you haven't missed anything.
Whilst you will re-use pieces of content for different grant applications, it still takes time to put it all together, and time spent doing that is time spent not doing something else for the club.
3. Prioritise your application order
Rank the grants in order of importance to your club. That might be as simple as the amount potentially on offer, as it's better in terms of time to receive one grant of, say, £5,000 than applying for 5 x £1,000 grants. After that, put your most important grants in the order of which ever ones close for applications soonest.
Are any of your chosen grants mutually-exclusive? Check the details of each scheme carefully, to ensure that applying for one scheme won't make you ineligible for another. Which scheme or grant would you prefer, if you applied and won both?
Writing your funding application or bid
1. Prepare your paperwork
You will want the following information on-hand during the community grant application process:
- your bank details
- a copy of the club's constitution or rules.
- any other document with the club's policies and procedures
- profiles of your club management team and volunteers, including their roles and duties
- any rental agreements
- insurance policies
- charitable status documentation (if applicable)
- details of any bursaries or payments you make to your team members
- a log of volunteer time (particularly from those outside of the club)
2. Write your project brief
You may already have a written statement on your club's aims and objectives, but if not, now is the time to write one. Keep it concise and to the point. Evidence the need for your project to exist. Talk about who will do what, where and how they'll do it, and when.
- Who will be involved in delivering the project?
- Will it solely be members of your club, or are any external partners involved?
- Who are they key people?
- What are the aims and objectives of the project?
- Who is it for?
- How long do you anticipate it to last?
Be clear about the locality which will be impacted by the project - this is especially important if the funding is for a defined geographical region.
Separate your project activities into milestones. This makes it easier to define and measure progress and, to use the old adage, what gets measured gets done. Give each milestone a duration rather than an absolute date, as you don't know yet exactly when the project will start (if it is dependent on this funding).
- What tools, equipment, information or access do your people need to execute the project?
- Do they have any relevant expertise or qualifications?
- What will be involved in delivering each of the project milestones and what does success look like?
- What key performance indicators (KPIs) will allow you to track your progress?
3. Identify your costs
Think about what costs you want the funding to cover. Most funds or grants won't cover the entire cost of your club project, and again, make sure you don't claim for the same costs under two or more successful grants or fundraising activities. Make a list of each item and the anticipated cost, so you can present an accurate total, and help you ensure that you're applying for everything you need.
4. Use the same terminology
Remember that your application will be read by a human being. Don't use overly-complicated wording to try and impress them- keep it clear and make it easy for the assessor to understand what you're asking for, and how the money will be spent. Use to the same language and terminology they use.
5. Focus on outcomes
Your club is the vehicle which will deliver change, but the funder will want to know about the outcomes (in project terms, often called the "deliverables") of what you want to do. So, whilst you need to accurately describe the club, the focus needs to be more about what you want to change, achieve and deliver, and how this project or funding will help achieve that.
Tell the assessor how your project will:
- improve / increase / promote/ gain / more of [something]
- make [something] better/stronger
- need less of / reduce / decrease [something]
Think about what your community wants or needs, and how your club's project can be a part of that.
6. Get community involvement
Think about who can participate in your project.
- Who is already associated with your club?
- What about local leaders, youth leaders, existing community initiative founders?
- Is there anything like your project nearby?
- Where's the next nearest one? The further it is, the stronger the argument for your project to exist.
Get testimonials or other supporting material from those who have already worked with you, or who you have benefited. Record the time any volunteers spend with your club.
7. Proofread your application
Accuracy is important when applying for funding. If your application has typos or poor grammar, it may look to the assessor like you haven't spent much time on it., or that it isn't that important to you.
Once you've finished your application, you can help it stand out from the competition by:
- Putting it aside for a day or two, and then it read it again
- Getting someone else on your committee to do the same
- Double-checking your figures as well as what you've written
- Ensuring that your project helps the funder achieve their aims too, by matching their eligibility as closely as possible
- Making sure you've told the funder everything they need to know about your club - don't assume they will know
- If the application allows an appendix or additional information, bring your application to life by including photos of the club, previous projects - if you can't attach these directly, you can include a link to your website or Facebook group, but make sure the assessor can immediately see what you want them to see with that single click
- Sport England - Writing Your Application
- Resource Centre - Writing A Funding Application
- Sport Wales Club Solutions - Useful Club Management Documents
Keep your chin up
OK, let's face the facts. Some, if not most, of your applications are going to get denied. It goes with the territory, as most of the funding will have a significant number of competing applications. Be ready for this to happen and move onto your next application.
The good news is you'll be able to re-use most of the information you supplied in the first application, making it much quicker to apply for successive funding.