One of the major barriers for participating in sport is that it can be quite expensive, particularly for families who have multiple children attending. All of the costs associated with playing sport can very quickly add up to be challenging to manage. Costs can include uniforms, equipment, travel, raffle tickets, tickets to events and even sausage sizzles.
It is important for club presidents and committees to address this issue and look at possible ways to best support their members and potential new members to be able to afford and manage payments in order to continue to grow membership numbers across the community.
Offer upfront and monthly payment options
This doesn’t decrease the cost of membership but does help to reduce the burden of finding the money for a lump sum payment by spreading the cost of the membership across the season. Membership software is beginning to be able to support these kind of payments which ensures there is no extra burden on club administrators. Whether your club has this software or not, the small amount of additional administrative time may be the difference between people joining as members or not and is often a good idea to invest.
Create memberships options for families or groups of people
This is successfully used by many clubs and encourages the whole family to be involved. If your club can create more value with family memberships when compared to three or four individual memberships, it is seen to be fair and is engaging to families. We know that people are generally more likely to help a club if they are members, so encouraging all supporters and people associated with the club to become members helps the club to run more effectively and achieve goals in the long term.
Have an equipment and uniform shop or exchange for members.
This is a particularly great idea for junior clubs as children are grow quickly and will usually grow out of their uniforms before they wear them out. This involves parents bringing uniforms and equipment down to the club that their children have outgrown and on selling them or exchanging them with members who have children looking for this size. Often children will only use their equipment or uniforms for a season before grow out of it, so much of it is like new.
This enables members to save money and helps to increase the likelihood that they will be able to afford to sign up the following year.
Carpooling is often overlooked but can save considerable funds for members. There are a number of ways for clubs to do this. Clubs can use notice boards or social media pages to communicate that there will be a car pool for a specific event or game at a particular meeting time. This can then help members get into the pattern of behaviour where they share rides. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a car it could also be a bus to travel the whole team together. Bus trips could then potentially be sponsored by a local business in town or members can put in a couple of dollars each which is usually more cost effective than a large group of cars driving out to the game.
‘Buy your membership’ scheme
There are many people in the community who may want to provide value for your club but not be able to afford to buy a membership outright. These people may not have an abundance of money but may have time, passion, family and networks that can help them to become a valuable member of your club.
This is an approach that is becoming more popular at clubs and involves creating an activity where people can ‘earn their membership’. For example your club may organise a preseason raffle. If membership costs $200 the club could potentially say to everyone that if they sell $400 worth of raffle tickets, they will receive membership for free. This means that if raffle tickets are $2 each the individual needs to sell 200 raffle tickets. This then becomes a great option for people who struggle to find the money for membership but have time and are happy to put in the extra effort.
It is a good idea to organise an activity that brings in money for the club. Other examples include selling a certain number of tables or tickets to a club event or selling a number of new memberships for the club
This creates real value for the club while also giving people an opportunity to earn their membership and feel good about themselves. It gives them another option, rather than the choice to either not play or ask for charity. Another benefit is that it gets these members engaging with people in the community and talking about the club.
Depending on your club’s goals, this idea could also be applied to social media or volunteering skills. For example getting 200 likes to the club Facebook page or volunteering time for a role (like the webmaster).
Be on the lookout for grants and funds to support your club.
You can view an up to date list of the latest grants on the Sports Community website here: http://grantsandfunding.com.au/.
There are many different types of grants offered throughout the year including grants for uniforms, travel expenses, equipment, safety equipment, participation, council grants and for engaging with newer communities and introducing them to the Australian sporting culture. These grants can be a great way to offset costs for participation and are worth considering.
Australian Sports Foundation
The Australian Sports Foundation (ASF) is a great way for clubs to create projects that they can then promote to their members and community asking to help fund the project with tax deductable donations. The ASF allows clubs to register projects with them which individuals can then donate to by nominating the project as their preferred beneficiary.
It is reasonable under the ASF guidelines to create projects that relate to participation. Other possible projects could include uniforms, coaching or equipment and can also be made specific to an age group or team.
This is really helpful in lower socioeconomic areas when people may otherwise not be able to afford to play sport and our newer communities where people may not yet be working. These kind of programs can allow us to engage these groups into the Australian sporting culture.
Sport is an important part of our culture and has so many benefits for individuals and communities. Ensuring we do our best to make costs associated with our sport and clubs manageable will help our clubs continue to grow, have strong participation numbers and a positive outcome for all.