Elite sport and the community – creating dividends for all

A world of opportunities

Elite sporting codes and clubs hold a special position in our community. The strong emotional attachment many people feel towards their favourite sports and teams translates into attention, engagement, loyalty, and spending. This entrenched relationship also means that communities have high expectations of elite codes and teams to be involved in their local communities and positively impact them. In fact, research indicates that communities have higher expectations of their local sports teams to give back to the community compared to other businesses or organisations. 

A rich dividend is available for codes and clubs who can develop and implement an effective community strategy. Investment in development and funding of the strategy and activities can be provided by:

  • Government – by more effectively and efficiently delivering services and impact into communities
  • Brands – providing a meaningful connection to the community, which traditional sponsorship assets struggle to do
  • Individuals – providing a channel for individuals to make a positive impact.

A successful community strategy represents a significant growth opportunity for both an organisation’s brand and bottom line, while driving positive social impact in communities. When planned and delivered properly, these benefits can co-exist. 

Community activities in Australia

In Australia, clubs and codes across all sports are delivering significant amounts of community programs and activities. However, our review of the sector has highlighted that there is scope to drive better planning, integration and investment, and therefore outcomes from community activity. Although there are numerous examples of good practice in Australia, broadly speaking the current activity can be characterised as:

  • Highly fragmented 
  • Orientated to tied funding, rather than community-led needs and outcomes
  • Not aligned to strategic plans.

Therefore, the sector is undercapitalising on the opportunity to leverage the emotive power of their brands to reach and engage communities, to create positive community impact and realise the dividends.

The English Premier League – international best practice

Kinetica has spent time with many sports organisations in the UK and USA to learn about their community strategies. The English Premier League stands out as a leader in the space of community in terms of investment, clear purpose, and the alignment of the code and clubs. An important element of their execution is the aggregation and communication of community activity via rich, story-led content on their global website.  

The English Premier League website.

Our perspective on community strategy and engagement

Our practical experience and research into sports organisations’ community activities has led us to develop a set of drivers of best practice for community engagement. A selection of our guiding principles are as follows:

  • Anchored against relevant community needs 
  • Priority of positive social impacts over commercial gains when developing strategy 
  • Outcome not cause led – orientating strategy towards building community capability and capacity 
  • More than sport – clubs and codes have an authentic and valuable role to play in a broader range of outcomes e.g. leadership, entrepreneurship, reading, numeracy
  • Committed and dedicated investment and resources to support community activity
  • Capturing and amplifying rich stories from community activity 
  • Leveraging of partners (existing and new) to drive the reach and impact of community activity.

To learn more about Kinetica’s work with sporting clubs, codes, and communities – contact us today.