February 24, 2021 @ 9:58 by Chloe Holmes
Innovative community sport organisation GiveToLocal is perfectly positioned to respond to the easing of lockdown restrictions as a fresh recruitment drive gathers pace.
The North Tyneside based sports tech service has already proved its resilience with a series of successful strategic moves in the face of an unpredictable and fast-moving pandemic.
And GiveToLocal has been accelerating towards a full return to community sport — as outlined in the government’s coronavirus roadmap on Monday — for several months.
“We started the year by launching our 21 for 2021 initiative,” explains co-founder and CEO Neil Gardiner. “It was a strong statement of intent and underpinned our ongoing commitment to community clubs and grassroots sport.
“The move extended our system of support to 21 sports at the turn of the year.
“At the same time, we set about refining our internal processes and putting the structure in place to significantly expand our team.
“Once clubs and businesses can reopen it will be time to rebuild communities and work together to lay the foundations for a bright future.
“When that time comes, we’ll be flying out of the blocks. We have always taken a proactive approach and Monday’s roadmap confirmed we were right to look forward with confidence.”
GiveToLocal launched in December 2019 with a small team of hand-picked experts from the worlds of sport, scalable technology and growth marketing helming an ambitious service.
Exceeding expectations, the organisation’s workforce will grow to 60 within the next few months as it seeks to sail past its initial target of driving an additional £10m per year towards community sport.
“It’s not been easy for organisations to generate and sustain growth during the last 12 months and, like so many others, GiveToLocal has faced its fair share of challenges,” adds Neil.
“However, with a constantly increasing network of support, we’ve been able to press ahead with our plans to back sport, boost business and build networks.
“To grow our workforce from zero to 60 within two years is a significant achievement.
“We have the confidence to grow at scale because we’ve tested our processes with real people.
“We know how and where our technology fits, where the support for community sport is needed most and how it needs to be deployed. The desire to scale that support and our impact is what drives future recruitment.”
Neil is conscious of the fact that part of GiveToLocal’s success is down to its ability to react quickly to new opportunities and its close connection to the local communities it serves and the partners it works alongside.
And he is acutely aware that by growing the service at pace there is an associated risk of a disconnect between top and bottom.
“It’s all about striking the right balance,” he adds. “So far, we’ve been able to maintain that balance between steady growth and a close connection between staff, clubs and partners.
“As our team expands, we don’t want GiveToLocal to become faceless or disconnected in any way.
“That’s why we continue to focus on creating the right working environment for our staff and ensuring that they feel part of the organisation and invested in everything that we do.
“Relationship building — internally and externally — is key to what we want to achieve and our recruitment and expansion must reflect that.”
Earlier this month GiveToLocal agreed an eye-catching national partnership with fellow North East sports tech trailblazers Okkulo.
And Neil adds: “We’re proud to be part of a thriving sector that’s bringing jobs and opportunities to the North East and shining a light on the region’s reputation for innovation and resilience.
“The technology that sits at the heart of our service has a direct impact on the community clubs we work with day in, day out.
“Our product development team is in tune with what’s needed on the ground and the service we offer reflects that demand.
“We can demonstrate a tangible link between our technology and its positive impact on communities.”
To find out how your business can make a positive impact on community sport across the North East visit www.givetolocal.com/corporates