How sport can get a bigger piece of the $700m local government funding pie
Local governments across Queensland invest around $700 million per annum in sport, making them the single biggest investor in local sport.
But for sporting clubs and associations, getting a share of that investment can be a tricky and sometimes frustrating process.
Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) CEO Greg Hallam says there are challenges that local governments face when funding sport in the community but he also sees a lot of opportunity where both sport and local government can build better partnerships.
"Both sides of the fence can engage with each other better and can partner with each other better. A lot of people who volunteer in local sport don’t understand the process that councils have to go through to tick off a funding agreement.
“Equally, many councils don’t recognise that a lot of the time, (the people writing the applications for funding) are mums and dads with full time jobs and families and don’t have a lot of time or experience to devote to these submissions,” he says.
Local councils receive thousands of applications each year, but Hallam says there is opportunity for longer partnerships being missed.
“We have a range of ways we can help clubs financially. Not just with grants for infrastructure but also with running costs, such as helping clubs assess electricity costs or water costs,” he says.
“What we’ve got in terms of big data or data analytics capability – we can help work out if water meters are working properly or the club is on the wrong tariff, for example. We’ve got technology that does all that now,” he says.
How money is allocated
With the growing popularity of women’s sport local councils are seeing a sharp rise in demand for facilities. Decisions are based on a range of factors, but unmet demand is significant.
“We’re now seeing women playing sports such as AFL, cricket, rugby league, in huge numbers. So, for example, where there are no female change rooms for a sport that has female participants - that request has a high chance of success,” he says.
“Where else in the community are the facilities? Where is there a gap in infrastructure? These questions play significantly into decisions.”
Hallam says there are some basic tips to help clubs improve their chances of getting funding and getting a greater slice of the pie.
Top 5 tips for success in local council funding applications:
1. Understand the funding cycle: Local governments bring budgets down around the end of June. To be part of the budget, you need to pitch your case in January. Hallam says too often people start thinking about their submission in June.
2. Demonstrate bang for buck: Like everyone, local governments are trying to do more with less. So anytime you can demonstrate a multitude of uses for the spend you’re seeking from council, then the better your chances are of getting the money. Shared facilities across multiple sporting codes is a good one, shared change room facilities, flexible or adaptable infrastructure is always going to be viewed kindly.
3. Be reasonable: Local government can’t fund a $10 million playing facility, so make sure you have a range of funding options available for those big ticket items.
4. Specificity: The devil is in the detail and local government will go through every application with a fine-tooth comb to understand every element of the project. If you don’t have the detail in there your application is likely to be put aside.
5. Community benefit: Local council wants to know what the return is to the community with every project. Policies and guidelines govern how the money is parcelled out and being able to point to community benefit is key.
Council also needs to shoulder some of the responsibility for building better partnerships with sporting organisations.
“Making sure the community knows the funding deadlines and the criteria upon which decisions are made is an important function of council and a way that local government can improve relationships,” he said.
LGAQ CEO Greg Hallam will speak at the Queensland Sports Collective Forum, 25 October at the Queensland State Netball Centre. Tickets are on sale now.