Using partnerships to help your club reach its full potential.

Written by Natalie Doyle

February 23, 2022

A close up of a handshake

We know that you can’t do everything by yourself, and we’ve talked in a previous blog post about the importance of recruiting and retaining the right volunteers, but what about outside of your club or organisation?  How do you utilise effective partnerships to help your club reach its full potential?

Fortunately, a lot of organisations recognise the benefit of people leading active lifestyles and therefore many organisations will want to support your club. So who are these organisations and how do you develop effective partnerships with them?

Let’s start with ‘Who are they?’

Now, regardless of your sport, there is likely to be some sort of local or regional association that is available to support you.  For football, this would be your County Football Association, but there are similar organisations for other sports too. These are the first people to work with. They are likely to be able to advise on funding opportunities, participation programmes and other opportunities that come available throughout the year.

The next organisation is your local Active Partnership. These are usually county-specific and are great in providing funding information, development support, training opportunities, and linking you with other organisations that can support your club. 

Depending on what age groups you work with, it could also be beneficial to develop relationships with local schools, colleges, and Higher Education Institutions.  They might be able to send prospective players, coaches, and other volunteers your way.

It’s also a good idea to develop relationships with as many local businesses as possible.  They might be potential sponsors, they might be able to offer services to your club, or they can just be one of your advocates in the local community.

The list of organisations you can develop partnerships with for the benefit of your club is endless – facility providers; kit suppliers; local press; and many more that you might think of.  The key thing to consider is ‘How do you develop an effective partnership with them?’

First of all, it’s important to be aware that for a partnership to be truly effective, it needs to be beneficial for both parties so always think about what you have to offer the organisation you’re working with. For a County FA, for example, they will have targets around growing participation so if you demonstrate that you can help them achieve those targets then they’ll be very keen to support you. If it’s a local business, perhaps they want to show the local community that they are supporting local sports clubs so how can you help them spread that message?  If you want to work with a local school or college to recruit more players or coaches, how can you show them the value you are adding to the experiences of their students? Perhaps you can even offer to come in and run a session with the students? Make sure that there are positive outcomes for both sides and you’ll be off to a good start.  If you don’t know what they would like to get out of the partnership then ask them! Ask them what are the objectives of their organisation and then look for ways you can help them achieve these objectives.

Once you’ve established a partnership, keep the other organisation updated with how things are progressing.  Perhaps you could set up a monthly newsletter to send to all your partners with news of what is happening in the club? If you keep them updated, they’re more likely to have you in mind when it comes to opportunities that they might have.

At the end of the season, make sure you thank any organisations that have supported you.  Send them an email or give them some recognition on social media, in the local press, or in your newsletter. Tell them about your aspirations for the club, and they’ll know what type of support might be helpful for you in the future.  Effective partnerships need to be constantly evolving as your respective organisations evolve.

Finally, if you do develop a great partnership with another organisation, tell other clubs about it.  Don’t feel like you want to keep it all to yourself.  A rising tide lifts all boats.

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