Alastair Davis is chief executive of Social Investment Scotland
We attracted visitors, won medals and saw retail sales soar. Now it’s all over, community sport and the social investment to support its growth will be vital in securing a lasting legacy for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Scotland is home to a wealth of community sport organisations, and over the past decade Social Investment Scotland (SIS) has invested in many. From football and rugby clubs, to gymnastics centres and wakeboarding parks, we continue to see the incredible contribution sport can make to our society. In terms of social impact, community sport scores high; building social cohesion, improving public health and encouraging people to become more involved in their communities.
Many of these organisations, however, face an uncertain future with challenges to secure grant funding and often relying heavily on volunteers. That’s why social investment is so important to securing their future and that of the Games legacy. Social investment can allow community sport to become more financially self-sustainable. Our 2013 Social Impact Report found that almost 60% of our customers reported a reduction in grant income since taking on investment.
We’ve recently approved investment in Stenhousemuir Football Club, one of Scotland’s oldest sports clubs and one of the first in Scotland to establish itself as a social enterprise back in 2006. In the same way that investment might support the growth of any business, the funding has enabled the club to lay a new 3G stadium pitch which can serve for both football and rugby, allowing the club to grow its offering to the community. The pitch is the first of its kind in the Falkirk area and as well as generating income from the general public, the club will be able to deliver a range of programmes to schools and community groups.
This highlights exactly why sports clubs work so well as social enterprises - they can earn good revenue while remaining an accessible asset to the community. With a solid business model at their foundations and the investment they need to grow, sports clubs are more financially sustainable and better equipped to deliver social impact.
The remaining question is how do we keep the flow of capital into organisations like Stenhousemuir? Firstly we need to make sure community sports clubs understand how social enterprise works and how investment can benefit them. The demand for social investment is certainly beginning to grow. At SIS we’ve received almost 100 applications to the £1 million Legacy 2014: Sustainable Sport for Communities Fund since its launch back in March.
Secondly we need to secure supply, which means encouraging both public and private investors to consider social investment. Not only does it make good business sense, but it will also help community sport play its part in creating the active, healthy and cohesive society the games envisaged.