Sport and recreation

Sport partnership benefits and guidelines

What is a sport partnership

Sport partnerships are the coming together of multiple sports organisations and/or sport and community groups to share knowledge, costs, services and/or facilities for collective benefit.

We work together with regional and national sports organisations, to offer support and advice in community-led partnerships.

We are developing a set of partnership guidelines which provide an overview of the partnership development process and explain what support exists at each step of the journey.  As no two projects are the same the ultimate objectives and development journey will differ for each partnership.

Benefits of sports partnerships

Traditional perception of a sport partnership is about the sharing of facilities, however there are numerous ways in which sport and community groups can be of benefit to one another, including:

Governance benefits:

  • Members from different clubs can combine to create a wider pool of knowledge, skills and contacts.
  • Moral support from partnerships will allow for more creative brainstorming.
  • Collective input into plans and priorities.

Financial and funding benefits:

  • Partnerships can create efficiencies and reduce operational costs if resources can be shared (e.g. staff costs, power, websites, insurance)
  • Partnerships can potentially increase or open up new income streams (e.g. bar takings, merchandise, membership, pay to play opportunities)
  • A partnership funding strategy can ensure that groups do not apply to the same funder in the same month and undermine each other’s proposals.
  • Partnerships can ensure that opportunities to apply for funding across a range of agencies aren’t missed.
  • A partnership speaks for a larger percentage of the local population than a single club can, so adds weight the community benefit argument.
  • A partnership can help to align and prioritise funding goals.
  • Partnerships can approach funding agencies and build relationships on behalf of all the individual clubs. Funding agencies then have a better understanding of collective capability and are assured that any money granted is both put to good use and provides value for money.

Participation benefits:

  • Partnership discussions may provide an opportunity to explore combined membership models
  • Partnership planning may tackle collective issues around membership retention, growth and maximising ‘pay to play’ opportunities.
  • A multi-sport in-school programme could be developed and even supported through Kiwisport to develop club-school links.
  • Holiday Programmes are a good way for groups to start building a working relationship.
  • There could be potential cost and efficiency savings by employing fewer part or full-time staff to cover existing multiple paid roles.
  • The above could/should lead to an increase in the quality of member and potential member experience by employing someone with the necessary skill-set.
  • Opportunity to reduce operational pressure on volunteers by employing paid staff.
  • Opportunity to create a job description, KPI’s, highlight sport/community benefits and seek a salary subsidy for the above role.

Volunteers/Coaching benefits: 

  • There is opportunity to give volunteers and/or coaches the opportunity to undergo training to improve their skills/knowledge.
  • A partnership would have a larger forum and resource in which to recognise the contribution of volunteers, for example multi-sport awards night.

Merchandising benefits

  • Partnership merchandising opportunities could be realised through alignment of collective identity.

The first step into forming a partnership

Arguably the first step for every sport partnership should be the development of individual club strategic plans. You should assess your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your club to be able to develop strategies.

By having each club’s strategic plan on paper in front of you it’s much easier to see the similarities between your club’s goals and those of your potential partners. By pulling out those collective goals and prioritising them you can quickly develop a strategic plan for your partnership.

Regional Sport Trusts and many Regional Sports Organisations will have club capability staff who can facilitate planning sessions to draw out this information from your committee or complete a self-assessment of your club on the Sport New Zealand Club Warrant of Fitness website.

Planning sessions are typically held across a two or three evening meetings, spaced about a month apart. This means the time-stress on volunteers is relatively low and allows time for stakeholder survey results to be collated and fed into planning sessions.

Five tips for early partnership success

  1. Planning - The off-season is the perfect time to do your planning and will ensure you are more organised. It will also reduce pressure on you once the new season starts.
  2. Look for easy wins - Your ultimate goal may be the development of a new multi-sport facility, but that could be many years away from where you are now. In the early stages of your partnership, identifying tasks that will show good results quickly. This is often the catalyst for further success, it shows partnership value to your wider membership and gives you momentum to move forward.
  3. Engage an experienced neutral party - An external consultant can help facilitate early partnership discussions. That way you know there is no hidden agenda, no party is seen to be taking over and meetings are well thought out and a good use of valuable volunteer time.
  4. Engage with key stakeholders - To buy into the partnership concept, key stakeholders need to be engaged, given the opportunity to contribute and be heard and understood. Discussions may be difficult, but it is important to understand the challenges each sport faces.
  5. Inform stakeholders - Keep your key stakeholders informed of your progress and aspirations. This should include your Local Board, key funders, sponsors, local schools, regional bodies, regional sports trusts and your club members. Keeping everyone well-informed prevents false expectations and misunderstandings.

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