We are just a couple of months into a new quadrennial and the sport sector has already experienced a lot of change. While renewed enthusiasm to drive the growth of sport has swept across the country, many national governing bodies of sport (NGBs) are having to revaluate their strategy for the next four years because of Government directives and funding cuts.
Sport England is currently going through the process of allocating funding to NGBs and has already announced nearly £200m in funding for grassroots sport. By April, all funding will have been allocated and the total figure is expected to be considerably shy of the £493m that was dedicated for the ‘Whole Sport Plan’ in the 2013-17 period. Similarly, UK Sport has announced a hit to elite funding and a number of sports including Archery, Badminton, Fencing and Weightlifting have been left without any funding for elite programmes.
The cuts have been delivered against the backdrop of the Government calling for NGBs to be more sustainable and business-like, with less reliance on public funding. NGBs (like many public sector organisations) are facing a situation where they are essentially being tasked to do more with less, and become financially sustainable in the process. It’s a daunting situation but one that, we believe, has a beacon of light; our nation’s love for sport.
The UK is sport mad; millions of people are actively involved in sport across the country, and there are millions more that aren’t but want to be in some capacity. The challenge facing NGBs is how they can effectively tap in to this passion as a means to take greater strides towards their overall targets and goals.
We established Sport:80 recognising that the sport sector was on course to reach this impasse, and our response was to turn to technology. Historically sport governance has been slow to adopt innovative technologies, particularly those that modernise internal operations processes and provide a means to connect with tech savvy audiences. This realisation saw us develop a cloud-based sport management platform that would enable NGBs to drive operational efficiencies, create greater levels of engagement with members and create new opportunities to generate revenue. Furthermore, having taken guidance from DCMS, Sport England and the Sport and Recreation Alliance, our Platform has never been in a stronger position to support the sport sector in achieving this.
The Platform is already being used by the likes of British Weight Lifting, Archery GB, British Fencing and Rounders England. These NGBs are members of a community of sports organisations that all use our sport management platform to manage key areas of their organisations from a single system. It includes tools to manage membership registrations, club, team and individual management, event entries and sanctioning, as well as customer relationship management, finance, email marketing and reporting among others. Uniquely the Platform also allows NGBs to deliver online services to their members. It enables governing bodies to providing an online member portal from which athletes, coaches, officials, club administrators etc. can manage their affiliation with the sport.
As you can imagine, the Platform has allowed these organisations to make a step-change in the way they are run, while presenting opportunities for growth. We are seeing our partners benefit from the ability to streamline operational processes and deliver a modern means of connecting with members. The latter has resulted in numerous opportunities to improve revenue streams and gain greater insight in to their sport.
“The partnership with Sport:80 is a huge step forward for the use of technology at British Weight Lifting… the Platform will be a foundation upon which the organisation can deliver a greater level of engagement and service to members. Sport:80 has been fantastic in turning our vision into a reality and I’ve no doubt that the partnership will deliver benefits across the sport for years to come.” David Gent, British Weight Lifting
As well as supporting governing bodies to work in more intelligent and profitable ways, a big part of what we are doing is based around creating a community. We believe that sports organisations can benefit from working as a collective, and this is not just in the typical sense.
There are currently 20 sports organisations that make up our community, and each organisation benefits from one and other’s engagement with the Platform. We regularly engage with our community and use their feedback to develop new features and tools, the majority of which are pushed platform-wide for all to benefit from. These innovations often result in new ways to engage with members, to improve productivity, and access new revenue generating initiatives. In the past, this model has resulted in new features such as waiting list functionality for event entries, an email marketing tool and digital membership cards.
What we have essentially created is a shared service of sorts, although it has much more flexibility and freedom for the NGBs we work with. Our approach is seeing us engage with more governing bodies every month and our community is growing as a result. However, having said that our vision goes beyond what we have achieved to date and we believe it presents a significant opportunity for the sport sector as a whole.
We believe that by working as a collective, particularly around the use of technology, NGBs could access significant commercial opportunities that they might not have be able to when working in isolation. We see our community reaching a critical mass and being able to leverage its position, and the technology, to access lucrative opportunities around such things as advertising, sponsorship, data syndication and e-commerce. We also believe that the size of these opportunities will allow governing bodies to become much less reliant on public money, or even self-sufficient.
What we are doing at Sport:80 directly feeds in to the sports sector’s current climate. Our technology fulfils a very real need to modernise internal operations and to better engage with those who are passionate about sport. Our vision then presents an opportunity for governing bodies to take significant steps towards becoming sustainable and less reliant on the public purse.
The sport sector is facing some big challenges but we are ambitious people and we believe we have created something which could be incredibly powerful for sport in our country. We are often out and about visiting our partners around the country and would be happy to offer any interested NGB a no obligation technology consultation. If you would like to arrange a consultations or would like to talk further about anything discussed above, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 020 3005 2526.