April 22, 2020 @ 11:33 by Chloe Holmes
One of the North East’s fastest-growing service providers has been supported by big-name firms across the UK in its bid to help small businesses and community sport clubs emerge from the coronavirus crisis intact.
GiveToLocal, based in North Tyneside, has secured the backing of key players including NatWest, global recurring payments platform GoCardless and sports retailer Kitlocker.
And the innovative organisation has partnered with North East Times as it seeks to galvanise regional businesses and highlight the long-term challenges facing communities in lockdown.
“Thanks to the support of our trusted partners, GiveToLocal is in a prime position to help those small businesses and sports clubs at the heart of local communities across the North East and beyond,” said Neil Gardiner, CEO of GiveToLocal.
“We have worked closely with a number of key businesses to ensure we can help smaller firms and sports organisations increase funding at a time when traditional income streams have all but dried up.
“This is uncharted territory for everyone but from the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak we realised that GiveToLocal could make a positive impact and we changed our focus to reflect that.
“The launch of this month’s #InspiredToGive campaign has been met with a tremendously positive response and the support we have received from the business community and key figures within sport has been overwhelming.
“Every day we are helping more and more small businesses and grassroots sports clubs move towards a new era of sustainable funding.
“Staying safe and restricting the spread of the coronavirus must be the priority and that remains our number one objective at GiveToLocal.
“But beyond that we are conscious that local communities need to be in a position to rebuild and prosper once the Government advice changes.”
Former Newcastle United favourite Les Ferdinand, ex-England and Durham cricketer Steve Harmison and world champion swimmer Adam Peaty have all pledged their support to GiveToLocal’s #InspiredToGive campaign.
And thousands of new teams from across the UK have registered with the North Shields-based organisation during the last fortnight – following the decision to expand from grassroots football into eight additional community sports.
Radio personality and matchday announcer Justin Lockwood – a familiar face to thousands of Newcastle United and Newcastle Falcons supporters – is anchoring daily giveaways linked to #InspiredToGive via GiveToLocal’s social media pages.
And Gardiner explained: “It was always the intention to roll out our service to more sports once we became established as a trusted service provider within grassroots football.
“There are 32,000 football teams registered with us across the UK and we are working with national governing bodies and regional associations up and down the country to ensure we can deliver the very best service to our growing community.
“Our initial aim was to put £5m a year into grassroots football but now we are looking to put £10m a year into community sport.
“Our user-friendly app and a team of passionate individuals, working closely with clubs and businesses, means it’s easier than ever to benefit from GiveToLocal’s incentivised giving platform.”
GiveToLocal launched last December with a media event staged at the London headquarters of Google-backed GoCardless.
Thirty people are employed at the organisation’s head office and plans are in place to expand that workforce nationwide once restrictions on working are eased.
But Gardiner is proud of GiveToLocal’s Tyneside roots and believes the partnership with North East Times represents another key stage in the organisation’s evolution.
“We were very impressed by what the North East Times team had to say at the onset of the coronavirus crisis,” added Neil Gardiner.
“Their rallying call to regional businesses to come together and support one another during this difficult period resonated with everyone at GiveToLocal.
“Alison [Cowie, editor, North East Times] and her colleagues set the right tone with their key message and it was a message we all understood and could relate to.
“It made sense for us to align with one of the most trusted business brands in the region and work hand in hand to try to help small businesses and community sports clubs.”
John Duns, director at North East Times, added: “As the leading business publication in the region we recognise the importance of helping where we can during an unprecedented period of change.
“It is quite clear that Neil and the GiveToLocal team shares that sense of responsibility and they have successfully repurposed their organisation to adapt to that change.
“Working together, I’m sure we can make a difference to communities which rely on the success of local businesses and grassroots sport clubs.”