Raising funds is one of the biggest challenges faced by cricket clubs. Luckily, there are lots of options available for clubs in the form of grants to improve their facilities and purchase better equipment. Ed Stoddart, CEO of Stuart Canvas outlines some of the options
When the team from Stuart Canvas visits cricket clubs across the country that are looking to upgrade their equipment, funding the improvements is often the biggest challenge. Yet, often, this need not be the case as, increasingly, there are third party funds available that could just help sway the decision for clubs.
The largest contributors to cricket clubs are Sport England and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). These are lottery funded organisations that provide grants and interest free loans to assist with the development of facilities on the grounds. These may be well trodden paths for many clubs, but there are a number of more unusual avenues that are worth exploring, particularly when considering the wider community benefits a successful club can bring.
Traditionally, a cricket club is not just centred on the sport, but is a social hub for members, their families and the local area. A club, therefore, is a legacy for the enjoyment of kids, people and seniors, both now and in the future. It's not just about the team or the club, but about grassroots and keeping the cricket heritage alive.
As such, support from the local community, donations and the dedication of members also play a big part in securing additional funds, as well as showing potential sponsors that the club is an active part of the community and should be supported.
We have worked with a number of clubs who have funding made available from Sport England, most notably the 'Inspired Facility' for clubs who seek to modernise their facilities and open them out to the public. The goal of this fund is to provide a community hub that is energy efficient and sustainable. This project has helped over 1,300 clubs and has a programme fund of £100 million with grants of up to £150,000 per project.
Despite this, 70% of the funding has been set aside for community driven and voluntary organisations, so achieving this funding often relies on the strength of the community support behind the project. Sport England also offer club sponsorship pound for pound up to £100,000 and small grants of up to £10,000 for community sports projects.
For areas most in need and, therefore, clubs seeking larger funds for dramatic redevelopment, 'Reaching Communities England' has £150 million available. This initiative offers anything up to five years of support, and funding on a per project basis of up to £500,000. The money on offer is not simply just for equipment and facilities, but for contributing towards the running costs of a club and purchase of land.
There are also smaller grants such as the Boost Charity Trust which supports overlooked sporting talent for people of all ages and physical abilities. Our preferred charity, Lord's Taverners Foundation, offer a range of cricket kit for teens, helping to make sure that young teams have enough equipment to play the sport.
Additionally, Sport England's initiative for 'Protecting Playing Fields' award £4 million per year as an investment in playing fields where they are in a state of disrepair or in need of maintenance. The 300+ projects they have completed have achieved the creation of new natural turf pitches, levelling, drainage work and general improvement of conditions, helping people to play sport.
As Stuart Canvas works across the sporting sector, we are aware of a number of funds that are not specifically aimed at cricket, but could yet be tapped into. The Co-operative membership fund has made contributions of £3.2 million to projects across the UK, ranging from theatre groups to sporting clubs, awarding up to £2,000 per project.
Tesco has a community Awards Scheme that offers one off donations of up to £4,000 to help provide practical benefits in the local community, such as sporting equipment and resources for children, the elderly and disabled. Similar awards offered to community groups include the 'Awards for England', which offer grants of up to £10,000 for revitalising projects in the local community and enabling people to become more active citizens.
The emphasis for cricket, therefore, is one of inclusion, as well as encouraging the young and elderly to participate, and so balance between the competitive sport and the friendly games for all.
Aside from funding from grants and loans, there are alternatives that can be awarded from the local council. Section 106 requires that building developments have to give money back to the local area and organisations. Many cricket clubs have gained funding simply by making sure that their local council was aware of their need for funding, and applied for a portion of the section 106 donation.
One of the more unusual schemes that our team helped tap into was the Landfill Communities Fund (LCF). The scheme was developed to enable Landfill operators to partner with local projects that benefit communities and the environment. Although these are a result of the Government insisting that certain types of business give back to the local area, many companies want to give back to the local community and do so greatly across the year. With the right plan, and appealing to the right company, a club can be successful in gaining sponsorship.
The surge in funding available for cricket is not just caterering for large clubs. The focus is on community and grassroots, not only with the improvement of facilities, but with the purchase of the right equipment to enable members to compete strongly with other clubs.
We are finding that clubs are using the available funding to purchase cricket covers to protect their pitches from the elements, thus allowing more matches to be played, which assists in the sustainability aspect of this great sport. For many years, cricket clubs have seen the benefit of investing in Non Turf facilities, with these carpets and shockpads providing consistent, high quality playing surfaces, thereby creating improved and sustainable training environments.
Modern facilities and equipment like this gives the ability to train in all weather on surfaces that are always in good condition, improving the quality of the sport played, as well as the development of the player's skill. It also means that games can be played at any time but, moreover, investment in managing and updating facilities is one of the many prerequisites to developing membership and participation.
Players young and old who devote their time to the sport and club deserve to play in the best possible environment. The ECB in particular aims to increase the numbers playing cricket, the quality of the facilities at all levels and investing in talent.
Traditionally, clubs have used a range of methods to raise funds. These have included dinners, tournaments, parties and involvement in other sports, pavilion hire and sponsorship. A club is built on the strength of its members so, when seeking funding for development, it is important to consider what players actually want, not making an assumption.
Organisation and goal setting is equally important; strategies for how a club will attain the required funds, but also having a solid plan for those funds. Strong planning will help to achieve grants, loans and give a strong sense of purpose. In most cases, it's not enough to state that a club seeks funds, the most successful applicants are those who can demonstrate exactly how the funds will be used and what the benefit will be to the actual club and, more importantly, the wider local community and how sustainable the proposed project will be.
Change and development is never easy, but there is help out there to make sure that cricket clubs don't get left behind. The key to success is the community. A strong club is one that is supported by members, the local people and businesses and offers inclusion for all ages and abilities.
To achieve funding, there must be capitalisation on this strong support and evidence that it will benefit the wider community. There is an abundance of funding available to help keep the cricket heritage alive, modern, sustainable and appealing to all.
If you are looking to upgrade or enhance your club's facilities and are unsure of the funding streams or opportunities available, contact a member of Stuart Canvas club liaison team and they would be more than happy to advise. www.stuartcanvas.co.uk