New year – same focus

February 3, 2021

North East-based national sport service GiveToLocal is proving as resilient as those community clubs it continues to support. In 2021, its goals remain in sharp focus.


Launched in 2019 and emerging as one of the key players in community sport across the UK, GiveToLocal continues to position itself as a champion of grassroots sport clubs and a proactive pillar of the business community.

A fully invested member of the North East England Chamber of Commerce and on a mission to back sport, boost business and build networks, the organisation’s commitment to the region is clear.

And chief executive Neil Gardiner remains focused on spreading the word and galvanising support at a time when the need to celebrate community sport and its power to do good has, arguably, never been greater.

In fact, he believes there’s never been a better time to get to know GiveToLocal.

“We want people to know who we are, why we’re here and what we do,” explains Neil.

“Our hope is that our key messages, aims and ambitions have always been clear: we’re here to support community sport clubs by connecting them to donors and local businesses.

“At the same time, we offer corporate partners a unique opportunity to contribute to the impact we have and become part of a network of like-minded businesses.

“But the power, influence and value of that network to our local communities is something we will always seek to increase.

“For that reason, we decided to host two webinars at the end of January aimed at filling in the blanks for those firms which may have heard of GiveToLocal but wanted to know more.

“The response was fantastic.”

From Brewin Dolphin to Bellway Homes, Newcastle Building Society to Sintons LLP, the list of blue-chip attendees seeking a window into the GiveToLocal world read like a who’s who of the North East business community.

And although the first quarter of 2021 provides little light at the end of the tunnel for those operating at the heart of community sport, the growing support of influential corporates has enabled Neil and his team to approach the new year with renewed confidence.

“It’s a new year, but as far as GiveToLocal is concerned, the focus hasn’t changed,” he adds.

“In fact, our commitment to community sport and our ambition to grow is even stronger.

“We’ve made an incredibly positive start to 2021 by announcing a number of new partnerships with national governing bodies and regional and national businesses.

“Our plan is to create 30 new jobs in the first half of the year and that includes the appointment of a campaign manager to oversee a series of exciting new projects. In addition, we launched our 21 For 2021 initiative. We’re supporting a further six sports this year, which means we’re working with 21 sports in total.

“To put that into context, this time last year we only worked with football.

“But our ambition has always been to grow and to grow fast.”

January saw GiveToLocal rubber-stamp key national partnerships with Basketball England, The Wheelchair Football Association and British Dodgeball — broadening its reach and ability to impact positively on three sports with a reputation for championing community participation.

Stewart Kellett, chief executive of Basketball England, says: “2020 was a challenging year for everyone involved with our sport and it’s important that we consider partnership opportunities that can support basketball now and in the future.

“GiveToLocal’s model is unique and offers clubs a great opportunity to develop sustainable income by becoming even more connected into their local communities.

“It’s vitally important that our clubs, coaches, players and volunteers are supported in every way possible and this national partnership has the potential to do that.

“Basketball England is very much looking forward to working with GiveToLocal in 2021 and we’re excited about what we can achieve together this year.”

Sharing Stewart’s excitement is Tokyo 2021 hopeful and Strictly Come Dancing alumnus Will Bayley.

Table tennis is one of the six newly-supported sports spearheading the 21 For 2021 initiative and the Great Britain international adds: “GiveToLocal’s support is really important, especially now.

“So many people give up their free time to help out the community and create the next generation of athletes.

“It’s amazingly selfless, so anything we can do to support those volunteers is brilliant.”

With strict UK-wide lockdown measures predicted to remain in place until the middle of February at the earliest, a full return to community sport looks some way off. It’s just one of the reasons why Clare Morley, chief executive of Rise, the North East organisation committed to getting the region active, is predicting a difficult year ahead.

But she feels GiveToLocal can be a key driver in turning things around during 2021.

“There is an obvious connection between GiveToLocal and Rise,” she adds.

“Our mission is to tackle inactivity and successful community sports clubs are integral to that.

“GiveToLocal can help those clubs thrive and survive.

“Anything that helps young people and adults to stay active and engage in regular physical activity is hugely important.

“The real benefit of the GiveToLocal approach is the focus on connecting clubs to local businesses and embedding those clubs within the community.

“It’s easy to focus on the financial perspective but, by raising awareness around community sport, the benefits to clubs can also include businesses offering their time and advice.”

Why we’re getting to know GiveToLocal

Rob Coupland: chief executive, Pulsant

“The GiveToLocal cause isn’t only a good cause — it’s a cause that people can really relate to on various levels. In addition, the GiveToLocal partnership approach is a bit different to what you normally see. This isn’t simply about sponsorship — there’s a genuine opportunity for us as a business. We have a chance to do something worthwhile, but we can also raise our own profile and become part of an effective network within the region.”

Gary Fawcett: divisional director, Brewin Dolphin

“I’ve heard a bit about GiveToLocal recently and I’m intrigued by their proposition. Given the current climate we find ourselves in, I think it’s a fantastic idea to try and provide vitally needed support for local sports organisations by getting businesses involved with regular giving. At the same time, GiveToLocal is creating a network for those firms involved to hopefully help each other.”

Adrian Dye: partner, Sintons LLP

“We’ve heard a lot of good things about what GiveToLocal is doing for our region’s community sports clubs and, as a group of people who appreciate the value of sport, we are keen to learn more about what corporate partnership looks like for our organisation.”

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