Funding bid submitted; now for the AGM
25th May 2017
A message from Janet Inman, Interim Chief Executive Officer at Volleyball England
Last Monday (May 15), we submitted our latest funding application to Sport England. If accepted, this will provide the resource we need to continue to develop volleyball between now and 2021. It will be mid-June before we find out whether our submission has been successful but there is still plenty to do before then as we lay the groundwork for this summer’s crucial AGM.
Sport England have, quite rightly, attached some conditions to us receiving this funding. We must understand that this funding is not our right and we need to show that we can deliver and will accept the constraints they place upon us. They also expect us, and all National Governing Bodies, to have high quality governance in place to drive our sport forward.
Bearing in mind that Sport England funding currently accounts for over 65% of our annual income, this is not something we can afford to ignore.
To meet Sport England’s requirements, we are now recruiting three independent Directors and an independent Chair for our Board and are working towards the standards set out in the new Sport England and UK Sport Code of Governance.
The changes in governance mean we need to restructure the Board and the infrastructure below it. This will allow us to work more effectively and efficiently with a large pool of volleyball experts, supported by volunteers nationwide and the staff at the Volleyball England Hub, to support the delivery of projects, programmes and events.
No second chance
All of this requires changes to our governing documents, our Articles of Association and Memorandum of Understanding, which will need ratifying at this year’s AGM.
I cannot stress enough how important it is that this happens. There can be no chance of Sport England funding us if we persist with our existing governance structure.
Over the last four year cycle, Sport England invested millions of pounds into the sports network and yet participation in sport declined. They are now focused on ensuring that the funding they provide is invested well and that outcomes are met.
More details on what these changes entail will be sent out over the next few weeks, ahead of our AGM on July 29. I urge you all to take the time to read what is being proposed and to appreciate what is at stake.
I know that governance is hardly the most exciting of topics. However, it has arguably never been more important than it is now. The future of our sport may well depend on it.
The importance of data
The collection of data, helping us to understand our membership and respond to their needs, is another topic which is going to receive a lot of attention this summer. The importance of clean, accurate data cannot be under-estimated. For this reason, we are looking to trial a system of collecting and collating data later in the year. Membership will be free during this trial period but with the understanding that this might change in the future.
This data is needed to better understand our membership; who they are, as well as where, how and why they take part in the sport. A conservative estimate of the size of our core market (which Sport England wants to see evidence of us serving and influencing) stands at under 30,000 people playing volleyball regularly. Better data capture would allow us to ratify or upgrade that estimate and would create more opportunities for dialogue with potential commercial partners.
Over the next four years, we will aim to reduce our dependency on Sport England and other grant funding. Becoming more self-sufficient will help us avoid having to restructure at the end of every four year funding cycle. To do this, we need to use the funding we currently have more effectively and efficiently. We also need to increase the amount of money being invested into volleyball – and this is where the importance of data becomes apparent.
Elsewhere, you may have already read about how our Technical & Talent project team are reviewing the way we run our junior programmes, senior squads and talent pathways. Sport England have also asked us to develop an understanding of why individuals stop playing volleyball and how we can address these reasons and reduce the risk of people leaving our sport.
Other areas we will be working on include a project we are going to call ‘club culture’ (and the impact this can have on player recruitment and retention); the environment within which people play volleyball; and our competition structure.
In each case, these working groups will be thinking about what we can do better, how we can work more efficiently and what services we can provide to our membership through our club network. We shall aim to improve communications to our membership and tell you more about these working groups at the AGM, as part of what is already shaping up to be a packed agenda.