The Funding Question!
In the next few days I’m going to present a rationale for the Board decision to increase the income generated from within orienteering and try to answer a few of the questions that have risen since the AGM proposal to raise membership fees and levy was published.
The questions I’ll try to answer or provide my views on are:
Should British Orienteering continue to be a National Governing Body of Sport?
What level of funding is required to act as a National Governing Body of Sport?
Where might this funding come from? What are the choices?
How should I vote at the AGM on the Board proposal to fund British Orienteering?
How can we fund British Orienteering to assure the future?
So, if you know how you are going to vote and are already clear about the issues please return your proxy vote if you are not planning on attending the AGM. If you are not 100% sure of the issues and want to know a little more hold onto your vote for a few more days and find out a bit more about the background to the proposal.
Should British Orienteering continue to be a ‘National Governing Body of Sport’?
At one level this is a simple question to address; if we are not the National Governing Body of sport for Orienteering some other organisation could decide that it will be!
British Orienteering is a company limited by guarantee and this provides protection for the directors, officers and members whilst requiring British Orienteering to act in certain ways and be scrutinised by external bodies. The members of British Orienteering have taken the decision to be a company limited by guarantee and I’ll take this as a given.
Whilst acting as a company the membership of British Orienteering have another choice, to be a ‘club of clubs’ or, to be a National Governing Body of Sport.
To consider these choices, you need to understand the differences between the options.
‘Club of Clubs’: In this scenario British Orienteering acts as a club, pulling together the efforts of its members and ‘sub’-clubs with little concern or involvement in wider sporting matters. It will inevitably be inward looking and fairly isolated from the wider UK sporting environment. The organisation will still govern the orienteering that takes place within the club structure and will still deliver the membership system, event scheduling, talent development and performance, etc.
The organisation and our clubs will not be entitled to bid for many forms of government funding although may still be able to bid for some non-governmental funding. There will still be a need to follow through on company law, insurance, safeguarding, Health & Safety matters, etc.
Arguably in this scenario British Orienteering as the ‘Club of Clubs’ could function in a more minimal way than at present and exist with 3 or 4 staff whilst requiring volunteers to do many of the tasks currently undertaken by staff – of course volunteers will also continue to be required to deal with many operational matters in areas such as events and competitions.
National Governing Body of Sport: To achieve this status there are criteria that need to be met and scrutiny is meticulous and annual in nature including gaining the 'Good Governance kite mark' that is required. With this status and recognition British Orienteering and its clubs have the opportunity to gain government funding, we are a part of the wider UK sporting environment and are able to network and learn from other NGBs and national partners. We sit within the IOF as a NGB and represent our views internationally. We gain help in many ways and are spoken with, consulted with and able to shape some aspects of UK sporting life. NGBs are a powerful group of bodies when acting together and have influenced government thinking.
Support is available to deal with many of the statutory requirements put upon sport and advice is relatively easy to source. Insurance is more straightforward to purchase and cheaper due to the status and there is assurance to our many partners that British Orienteering is a reputable company and will act in a responsible manner.
Partners and members of the public know there is an employed staff available to deal with many matters in a timely manner. Partners include many landowners and organisations that will deal with British Orienteering and our clubs because British Orienteering is a NGB; many of them would think twice before dealing with a small sporting business that is not a recognised NGB.
So, my opinion? I think it is feasible for British Orienteering to be a minimal ‘Club of Clubs’ and whilst orienteering will continue in the short term much as it is now it will probably lead in the longer term to an eventual decline in the infrastructure of orienteering at all levels.
On what do I base this opinion? I think that if members allow British Orienteering to become inward looking, orienteering will slowly lose the volunteers it so depends on and cease to attract newcomers. There is plenty of evidence that ‘pay and play’ is becoming the normal environment for sport and this impacts hard on orienteering – who will organise events in the years to come? Where will the next generations of volunteers come from? As a NGB British Orienteering can gain funding and support both to develop the next generations of volunteers and to learn how we can stage orienteering in ways that will be successful in years to come.
Personally I believe the preponderance of older people administering clubs and organising events is essential to orienteering at the moment but, and I accept many of you may disagree, there is a reluctance to change and a tendency to look backwards to the ‘golden’ days. We need external pressures to help orienteering meet our challenges and change in line with society (even if we don’t like those changes!) in order to ensure there is a bright future for the sport.
I believe orienteering has a bright future and can tackle the challenges it faces; I’m sure that will be far easier acting as a NGB of sport looking outwards and working collaboratively with partners that also believe we and orienteering have something to offer and are worth working with.
Regardless of all the positive reasons why British Orienteering should maintain our NGB status I also suspect that many members would be surprised if we ceased holding NGB status with a National Office and staff at how many aspects of orienteering would become more difficult!
To be blunt, I think that orienteering needs the recognition of being an National Governing Body of Sport.
Published by: Mike Hamilton