Funding for Sport: An expert’s guide to the Funding Galaxy…

Dr. Terri Byers, Principal Lecturer in Sport Management at Coventry Business School, Coventry University, UK

Dr. Byers has provided funding advice to sport clubs for more than 15 years and has helps hundreds of sport and community groups achieve their funding needs through her consulting, workshops and role as an academic. Her expertise is in managing sport organisations and she has published a variety of books, book chapters, journal articles, has been invited as an editorial reviewer for numerous academic journals and European Funding agencies / publishers and has appeared in a variety of media who have sought her opinion on the management of sport organisations and education.

Read more about Dr. Byers at

Follow Terri on Twitter for regular sports funding and management advice @TerriByers1

Terri will be talking about each lesson below in more depth over the coming months

There is actually ALOT of money ‘out there’ for sport… money to support sport clubs, community groups who provide sport opportunities, individual athletes, recreational and elite sports people, the list is virtually endless. The list of funding sources is also endless – and here is what I like to call the ‘Funding Galaxy’.  The galaxy is an incredibly complex and always changing array of funding needs and funding sources…. this article aims to help you understand how to ‘navigate’ the galaxy and identify how and where you should focus to get funds for your funding needs.

Warning: There are some harsh lessons here which you may not want to believe (about sport and those who fund it) or you may want to disagree with some things – that’s fine and I welcome any comments or questions on the article via this website or Twitter. I will make every effort to clarify, adjust or specify how the advice can apply to your specific situation.

Lesson 1: every funding need is unique, some of the following advice may apply or only certain advice. You need to use some common sense (and a little expert help!) sometimes…. enjoy and I look forward to your feedback!

As in any complicated situation, it helps to know what your needs are, so the first step to navigating the funding galaxy is to know what you want! …

Lesson 2: ASSESS your funding needs. This is not as simple as it may seem and you may need to come back to the assessment throughout the process of searching for funds and identifying appropriate funders. Remember because the ‘galaxy’ is always changing, you too may have to adjust your funding needs as you progress closer to identifying who may fund it. But for now your task is to make of list of what you need (or want) AND estimate the costs associated with this.

This MAY be split into different ‘projects’ in order to successfully access funds… for instance, I once worked (volunteered) with a local community group who wanted to build a new football club/facility and make a car park at the edge of the village playing field. Funders who were interested in helping with the facility (i.e. the local tip! was one) said they would absolutely NOT fund a car park but local builders who had to provide money for amenities under a local ‘121 agreement’ or Planning and Amenities Act. We quickly saw it was best to consider the two needs as separate projects and yes both were successful in attracting, in total nearly £100k

*If you live near a landfill/tip, they often fund community (i.e. sport) projects as a sort of ‘compensation’… check out your local tip or landfill!

Lesson 3: Most funders don’t care about sport but they do care about what sport can help us achieve socially, economically, environmentally, etc…

Think about why you need the money – this is where it can get VERY tricky because why YOU think the funding need is important and why a potential funder may think it important can be different. So think about who benefits from your project if you get the money – some funders only fund projects that help minorities into sport (i.e. women/girls, ethnic groups, etc…). THINK WIDELY about the benefits of what your funding could bring.. great community cohesion? Reduce crime in the area? Is it an environmentally friendly project?

Lesson 4: Search for funds from a wide variety of sources including the public, private and voluntary sector. Spread the risk (if a large project), apply for portions of your overall budget from a variety of sectors, funders – they like to see you working with other groups and they like to see that you have been successful in other funding applications.

Public funds include government, Sport England, local councils, regional sport boards, and EU funds (often ONLY through partnership with, for example, your local council).

Private sector funds are from sponsorship, fund raising events and loans.

Voluntary sector funds are from charities and voluntary groups such as Prince’s Trust, the Cliff Richard Charitable Trust or sport specific trusts such as The Football Foundation, The Brian Johnston Memorial Trust (cricket).

Try the Directory of Grant Making Trusts from

Or any of their publications – they’re great!

Lesson 5: In your search for funds, keep track of successful projects and LEARN what they got money for, why and how much. You can set up a google news alert on ‘sports funding’ and get the latest news direct to your inbox!

Lesson 6: Understand why each sector will give you money and consider this in relation to your funding need.

The public sector want to see that you can help them achieve their wider objectives: reduce obesity, increase participation or social inclusion, community cohesion, reduce crime, etc…

The private sector needs value for money – sponsors need to get something out of the relationship and successful fundraising events will have a unique appeal (ideally a sustainable one for your club!).

Voluntary funders want to see that you are working towards similar goals to theirs – you have the same values and share the same vision.

Each of the above should be emphasised in any funding application. **There should be a clear and strong link between WHY your funding need is important (lesson 3) and where (public, private, voluntary) you apply for funds.

Lesson 7: IMPLEMENTATION.  What you have done above is create a strategy… decided what you want and how/where to get it. Now think about WHO is going to do WHAT… Who is going to do applications, the fundraising events, etc… Start allocating tasks and deadlines to make sure things get done on time!

Final points to increase your chances of getting ANY money for ANY project, or to get MORE than you originally planned to…

  1. Seek viable, mutually beneficial PARTNERSHIPS… you don’t have to do it alone. It may be through talking to the local council, other local clubs, contact your local UNIVERSITY!… but spread the word about what you want, what are you are trying to achieve and it is likely there is someone out there who is doing the same or can tell you a few top tips from their experience…
  2. Don’t give up – there is always a way forward… be positive and consider your unique situation.

I hope you have found some useful information here – for specific and current tips follow me on Twitter! Happy funding for your sport funding needs!… Terri Byers


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