In a blogpost from Senior Account Manager Ben Nicholson of Oaks Consultancy, Ben discusses the two key areas that will support the return of sport and physical activity: revenue diversification and understanding new questions.
It will come as no surprise to anyone that COVID-19 has had an incredibly detrimental impact on the grassroots physical activity and sport sector.
With facilities suddenly closed, delivery of all shapes and sizes indefinitely stopped and an unknown future ahead, COVID-19 certainly represented the biggest challenge that this sector has ever faced.
While this is a challenge that we are going to have to live with, adapt to and demonstrate greater flexibility with our approach to sport and physical activity for the near future at least, it’s been incredibly warming to see the return of grassroots and physical activity in some form.
Of critical importance for grassroots organisations is ensuring a strong and resilient financial position, awareness of the challenges that COVID-19 may throw up in the future, and an understanding of solutions to these.
The importance of revenue diversification
The sudden impact of COVID-19 and national lockdown impacted vital sources of revenue for grassroots sport and physical activity groups.
Sessional income was paused whilst sessions could not run, income from streams such as bar takings or venue hire ceased, membership fees dropped, local sponsors could not necessarily fulfil obligations with their own company futures in doubt, and grant funding bodies changed their focus to support immediate COVID-19 responses.
Whilst there were many fantastic examples of communities coming together with crowdfunding schemes, organisations successfully gaining emergency COVID-19 response funding, and support schemes from government and national governing bodies, there was also a sense that this was a necessary but short-term fix.
With the gradual return to play for many, the focus is shifting from an immediate survival focus to beginning small steps on the path to future sustainability.
The funding streams that historically have supported this sector still exist, albeit in different formats and organisations need to think more creatively about their revenue sources.
Those organisations who historically have been over-reliant on a single source or revenue now find themselves exposed – changes to these revenue streams either due to the immediate impact of covid-19 or knock-on ramifications in the future, threaten the future sustainability of these.
The importance of a diverse range of revenue sources should not be discounted, something that many organisations should have an increased focus on in future.
Organisations that are best equipped to face this new turbulent future are those with financial sustainability, which comes from diversification.
Understanding new questions
The pandemic has thrown doubt over previously known or assumed knowledge within the grassroots sport and physical activity.
Organisations are quickly having to adapt to changing behavioural habits, understand which delivery mechanisms prove effective in the ‘new world’ and react to how new circumstances (such as economic status, employability status, and mental health prevalence) may impact beneficiaries, participants, and members.
These questions are potentially vastly different from those that were being posed six months ago, and come at a time that the support and resources that are available and able to answer may not exist in the sector in the same way.
The grassroots sport and physical activity sector have always been fantastic at finding answers to these questions, and sharing these.
Knowledge has never been the domain of one organisation; this sector is full of collaboration and a recognition that, through the sharing and evolution of ideas, physical activity, and sport as a whole will strengthen.
The analogy of knowledge shared is knowledge gained has never been more apt; the more we can do to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, challenge the status quo of how we work together for good, and share resources to jointly tackle issues, the more resilient we will be moving forward and ultimately be better equipped to tackle the challenge COVID-19 presents.
London Sport Consultancy has an important role to play to support our partners throughout covid-19 and beyond. We can help to understand the impact of COVID-19 on activity levels, and how to navigate this new landscape by unlocking insights and applying creative solutions to continue to champion sport and physical activity. Click here for more information.
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