By Paul Madden
Gone are the days of jumpers for goalposts with gym bags piled around the base of a tree – parents and sports participants expect more and with increasing competition for participants coming from different sports, clubs know they have to invest in order to give their members the best possible experience. This means providing access to quality playing and training facilities and the latest technologies in sports equipment. In order to provide such facilities, club fundraising is never enough and clubs need to seek government support to pay for capital expenditure.
In 2018 there were a total of 2337 sports capital grant applications in Ireland with just over 1000 of those receiving funding, so it’s fair to say securing funding is a challenge for club volunteers and being well prepared is key to ensuring your club has a chance of securing a grant.
Sports capital grants in Ireland
In Ireland, the Sports Capital Programme is operated by the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport and is part-funded by the National Lottery.
The purpose of the sports capital grant programme is to provided grants to sports clubs for the development or refurbishment of sports and physical recreation facilities such as pitches or courts, training pitches, floodlighting, astro turf pitches and clubhouses or to provide for the purchase of sports equipment for example gym equipment, defibrillators and facilities maintenance machinery (e.g. lawn mowers).
The objectives of the programme are to assist voluntary and community organisations, National Governing Bodies (NGBs) of sport and other bodies in the provision of high-quality, accessible and safe facilities in appropriate locations around the country; to prioritise the needs of disadvantaged areas/groups and to encourage sharing of facilities amongst different bodies.
Preparing an application for a sports capital grant
Before applying for a sports capital grant, do as much research and preparation as possible to give your application the best chance of succeeding. Here are some areas to consider looking at before you apply:
Scoring and assessment
Applications are assessed with a set scoring procedure (which may change from year to year). Scoring criteria receive different weighting e.g. the likelihood of increasing participation was weighted 3 in 2018, whereas the sharing of facilities was weighted 5. Other notable criteria in the document include evidence of planning permission for building projects, previous capital sports grand funding received and the level of funds the club has generated without government support. A copy of the 2018 scoring system for the capital sports programme can be obtained here.
Minimum fundraising requirements for clubs are 5% of total project costs or in the case of local authorities, 30% of total project costs. If a club has already raised funds for more than the minimum of 5% this will be weighted favourably in the application.
Know the deadlines
Each Sports Capital Programme has a fixed set of deadlines – one for registering to apply and a separate deadline for submitting a completed application. For the latest dates, consult the relevant government website. It is also stated in the terms of the programme that if work on the project has commenced before securing formal approval will not be eligible for funding (this includes signing contracts for the work to be undertaken).
Get familiar with relevant documentation
Your application for a sports capital grant requires the coordination of paperwork from different sources. All documentation must follow DTTAS templates, answering all relevant questions, otherwise it may hinder the success of the application. Some documents are compulsory e.g. evidence of ownership and/or site access; a professional quotation estimating the cost of completing the project or approval from the sport’s NGB where approval for a regional grant application is sought. Other documents like evidence of planning permission or an ongoing planning application are not mandatory but can add weight to an application (see scoring criteria for details).
Got questions? Ask the right people
For enquiries relating to sports capital grant applications for your country, contact your local authority from the list of telephone numbers on this page. Alternatively, you could contact the Sports Capital Programmes Unit of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS). Contact email for the Sports Capital Programmes Unit is firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is also a YouTube video from the department explaining how to apply for a sports capital grant.
Register to apply
Before applying, your club must have registered to apply for a sports capital grant at www.sportscapitalprogramme.ie. According to this, the only way to apply for a sports capital grant is through the Online Sports CApital Register (OSCAR) system.
How to apply
Read the last published guidance from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport on how to apply for a grant. The DTTAS documentation recommends not having the same application open in separate website browser windows at the same time, while this guide from the LGFA recommends saving your application form regularly to avoid information being lost by the website timing out.
To see a historical list of payments made through the Sports Capital programme going back to 2011, click here.
The sports capital grant application process is subject to change and may differ in your jurisdiction, please refer to the most current official government documentation to ensure your application is on the right track.
Need help fundraising? If your club is looking to generate funds to put towards a capital project, take a look at the fundraising tools available on Clubforce to help your club achieve your goals.