Finding the money to build a new boathouse is a daunting prospect. We have already spent nearly £200,000 to buy the land, get planning permission and build the landing stage. The current estimate is that it will take another £1.5 million to complete the building. How can we possibly do that?
Over the last couple of years we have been developing a plan and, as important, developing friends who can help us. The plan is to target a variety of potential donors: large national companies with Corporate Social Responsibility Funds eg Lloyds, Sainsbury's; local companies who may donate money or time and materials - a third of the cost of the landing stage was raised in this way; charities, trusts and other grant giving bodies including Sport England and the Lottery; and individuals.
The friends we have made include: the Honourable Company of Gloucestershire - the "great and good" of the county- who have made us their sporting charity of the year; Duncan Clegg - former long-time organiser of the Boat Race, now the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, who has made us one of his charities for the year; the Aspire Trust who run GL1 and the Tennis Centre; the potential users of the new boathouse; past members of the Club.
One of the hardest parts of getting companies to support you is to get your message to the person who makes the decisions - ask Paul Lukas how difficult this is, he has been contacting the Top 100 companies in Gloucestershire to ask them to support our entry into the Jubilee Pageant. The President of the Honourable Company has offered to make the necessary introductions to the right people at businesses that he believes are likely to be willing to support us; we will be starting to make those approaches in the next few weeks. Once we have finished that round of presentations we will look to start approaching other businesses, following up the work that Paul has done and using any other contacts that we have. If you are able to introduce us to someone who might be willing to support us then please let us know.
We have identified a couple of charities that might be willing to support our project, Tom Pattichis has volunteered to start writing the applications for those. He is also working with Steve Elway, a former member and now with the Aspire Trust, on our bid to Sport England's Iconic Facility fund. Sport England have indicated that they will look favourably on our bid and, if successful, they will match any funds we have raised up to half of the cost of the project.
We will also be running a campaign to ask individuals to "buy a brick" in the boathouse (see www.boathouseappeal.co.uk ). Donations from individuals who are taxpayers qualify for Gift Aid meaning that we can increase those donations by 25%.
The businesses, charities and individuals who support us will want something in return, even if it is a feeling that they have helped something worthwhile. The type of things we need to show are: multi-sports facility – rowing, canoeing and possibly hosting a rugby club that plays on Hempsted Meadows; increasing participation eg expanding Explore Rowing take up; provision for the disadvantaged eg help pay costs of those who cannot afford the fees, offer adaptive rowing. We are building all of these aspects into our plans for the future.
One big thing that supporters wish to see is that we are helping ourselves. They want to see a project that is actively and financially supported by all members of the Club. As part of our “buy-a-brick” campaign we will ask all members to help sell bricks. Our aim is that we will be able to say that every member has made their own donation, however small, and that we have sold an average of £1000 worth of bricks for every member. If every donation was Gift Aided, this could raise almost £200,000.
Because of our partners, we do not have to do this all ourselves. We will also be asking the other users of the new boathouse to sell their own bricks and will be enlisting the help of our own past members to also sell some bricks for us.
Of course, we still need funds to run the Club and keep our pool of equipment up to standard. Last year we spent over £26500 on new equipment, mostly for Explore Rowing, and £3200 on refurbishing the Project Oarsome boats; almost half of that money came from British Rowing grants. As the Club grows, we will need to invest at that level every year. Subscription from increasing the number of members will provide some of the money that we need and there may be some grants available, but the rest will have to come from our own fund raising including our Heads and Regattas. This is another area where we need the support of all members to make these events a success so that we do raise the money we need to provide the facilities that members want.
Enough for now. In future I will provide updates as things happen, most often this will be copies of the reports I prepare for each committee meeting.