Soccer Support was created out of the desire to help the sport realize its potential in the U.S.
Focused on growing the grassroots of the game we are looking to help clubs become more sustainable and provide mentorship and advice for them to all become cutting edge, 21st century clubs.
We know the majority of club administrators & coaches put in countless hours in a volunteer capacity and that future planning sometimes comes second to the day-to-day operations of the club. We understand because we have been in these very shoes. Our team includes club CEOs, ex-professional players and marketing experts to give you tried and tested outcomes.
Given these experiences we would have to say that financial security would be the most prevailing issue in the success and failure of clubs with a membership of less than 60. This isn’t a revelation by any means but it’s a hard fact to swallow for administrators and boards nationwide when they come to balance the books at the end of the season.
We are of the theory that the sport benefits more if 10 clubs receive $1000 rather seeing one club receiving $10,000. The 2008 Obama for America campaign was testament to this theory. Micro-funding is a proven way of getting financial contributions fast and ultimately provides members new opportunities to get involved with your club. If people have a financial investment in something this develops into an emotional investment which then leads to action.
For example – If you needed $250 for soccer balls for the upcoming season we guarantee you would be able to find 50 members/supporters willing to pay $5 quicker than a business willing to write you a check for the same amount.
“But our club did find a sponsor for $10,000” some might be lucky to say. This is great but be wary.
We feel that the reliance on big sponsors is one of the biggest causes of financial stress on clubs for a number of reasons;
1. There is never a guarantee of an ongoing funding commitment – budgeting for a $10,000 sponsorship and then losing it the very next season creates immediate shortfalls in cash reserves when you were dreaming of a long and lasting partnership.
2. The Global Financial Crisis is still a significant threat to business and has changed the very nature of traditional sponsorship.
3. Clubs tend to put all their energy into catching a big fish and neglecting the smaller businesses that can more readily contribute.
With that being said focusing on smaller sponsors can yield important tangible outcomes that are not essentially $$$ related. Firstly it has the power of entrenching you in the local community which then provides additional benefits such as exposure to new networks and potential members (players and volunteers).
We are looking forward to expanding upon sponsorship in a post-recession U.S. on this blog soon.
One of the most underutilized funding streams is that of grants. While they are highly competitive and irregular in nature they are also the simplest way of attracting $$$ for ongoing projects and equipment.
There are hundreds if not thousands of grants out there through soccer foundations, across all tiers of Government and other funding streams (philanthropy, corporations, not-for-profit).
Soccer Support strongly encourages clubs to take advantage of all the funding opportunities that exist. Know what grants are available and when the funding cycle opens and closes. Put in the necessary time to draft a strong submission and have all your paperwork and budgets ready to submit on time.
Check out the AYSO website which produced a list of 10 tips to help you apply for a grant (don’t worry these tips are standard for most soccer foundation grants including the US Soccer Foundation) http://bit.ly/ywedyJ
We are currently in the process of creating a grants guide which will list the majority of the grants available. This will be a huge task and will take a considerable amount of effort to make it a reality. If you know of any grants or funding streams available to clubs that you want to make Soccer Support aware of for the purpose of this guide please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
A big issue from an administrative point of view is that most volunteers have not had proper business training for running an organization of this nature. Running a soccer club is not like balancing a family budget and the reality is that it’s just human nature to spend $$$ on nice jerseys rather than take care of the more immediate bills owed.
Ask yourselves these questions;
What is you clubs breakeven point per season?
Does you club have procurement policies?
Does your club have a business plan?
If you do not know these off the top of your head it might be time to take a more professional approach to you day-to-day operations or seek some extra assistance.
All of the above questions promote transparency within your club and the latter providing you with clear goals and a vision for the future. Assistance in drafting all of these is available from a wide variety of organizations.
Further reading can also be found here;
Model Soccer Clubs – A Powerpoint from US Youth Soccer http://bit.ly/yxg9SO
The Sustainability of Local Sports Clubs (Scotland) – a review into the sustainability of local sports clubs http://bit.ly/xsRmVH
The future isn’t so scary if you plan ahead. Minimize the unknowns and embrace opportunities.
One of the biggest tips we can provide is for clubs to embrace their local communities. Become entrenched in your area so that you become the ‘go to’ club for future opportunities and sponsorships. Link with local events, host viewing parties for the big games, enter teams into off-season tournaments and hold open days to showcase what you have to offer.
21st century clubs are those that will promote ongoing sustainable practices and continue to innovate to stay relevant. Embrace social media and non-profits that mentor small businesses. Get your board together and brainstorm about what possibilities might exist for your club no matter how unrelated and then come up with an implementation plan to help your club grow. Ask your members, volunteers and supporters what they think might work and reap the benefits. Think outside the box people!
Building better clubs, attracting new volunteers and sponsors, supporting best practices and skill sharing with teams across the country is the recipe for success and one which will help drive a new cultural change for Americas sporting landscape.
Soccer Support has some exciting plans planned in this area which we will be launching soon. We will make every effort to keep you informed of the resources and opportunities available to your club – just keep checking www.soccersupport.us for this and much more!