When we think of sport and recreation organisations, we usually conjure in our mind the image of happy people doing what they love best. It might be saturday morning kids football, or playing tennis at the club, or a round of golf on a sunny day. Whatever your passion is, some sport and recreation organisation will likely exist to supply you the opportunity.
The existence of any sport and recreation organisation is usually owed to like-minded individuals who pool their efforts and resources together to create a facility and an organised program to enable themselves and other people to play sport. In the early stages, the created organisation will likely be small, run purely by volunteers, and will offer only basic facilities and programs to its customers/members.
As time goes by, however, the new organisation will usually grow, and will need better facilities and a greater variety of programs to ensure that its customers remain happy and satisfied. However, it is the nature of sport that a proportion of customers will always be ambitious, and likely to want their club to be more competitive and have the best reputation in the neighbourhood.
This scenario puts constant pressure on organisation committees and/or managers to achieve higher and higher standards of service delivery, and often without any increase in human or financial resources. It is a perplexing problem that leads to frustration and dissatisfaction on the part of organisation managers and customers.
What are the possible solutions?
The key strategies for improving service delivery in a sport and recreation organisation are:
In addition to funding that comes directly from participation fees, sport and recreation organisation need to generate income from other sources. Typical sources include the serving of food and drinks in the clubhouse canteen or bistro or bar, and the hiring of facilities to outside user groups. In Australia, many sporting clubs installed poker machines in the early to mid 90s. For some, this proved to be the very much needed income source, but for other clubs the extra administrative burden crippled clubs financially.
The clubhouse, therefore, is the key opportunity to develop long-term income streams separate from participation fees. Developing the clubhouse so that it is an income-producing asset, needs to be a major goal for most organisations.
Many errors are made in the area of financial management. There are several reasons for this:
Committees are generally very enthusiastic about planning sport programs, but less so when it comes to planning the organisation's business aspects. Planning is a management activity that requires extensive time involvement, and that is something that is a commodity in short supply for volunteers.
In an ideal world, the planning activity would identify important strategies for improving the quality of facilities and services, especially with a view to developing long-term income streams. Planning should have a long-term focus and set the wheels in motion to attain important goals in 3, 5, 7 or even 10 years ahead. However, management committees tend to be focused on the short-term, this year and maybe next.
Government funding, particularly for the creation or redevelopment of facilities, is critically important to the sport and recreation organisation. It is necessary to find people with appropriate skills in writing funding submissions, and there is often a considerable outlay of time required. Furthermore, government funding programs usually require the sport and recreation organisation to commit its own funding as well, and this can become a major stumbling block.
However, government funding, if it can be achieved usually presents a once in decade opportunity for the organisation to take a leap forward in quality of programs and services offered to the customer.
Anyone who has ever had involvement with sport and recreation organisation committees, will have hear the common complaint that there are always too fee (helpers) to do so much (work). It often seems that there is just a very few key people that keep organisations alive. They are indispensable, so it seems, but this is just a myth.
Some of the strategies to employ for increasing the pool of helpers include:
One of the main reasons why people are very reticent to come forward when volunteers are requested is the culture in the organisation. It is often the case that there is a history of volunteer burn out and a lack of reward for helpers. This is why it is so important to budget appropriately for recruitment, training and recognition of volunteers.