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Planning is the key to the future for all sporting and recreation clubs no matter their level, activity or size.

Why plan?

Clubs need to plan their long-term viability in order to grow.

Planning helps to:

  • Look at where the club has come from, where it is now, where it wants to go and how it is going to get there
  • Identify the main objectives of the club
  • Encourage the members to get involved in the development of the club
  • Adjust to changes in the current environment that have an impact on the club
  • Ensure that resources (human, physical and financial) are used effectively
  • Evaluate the progress of the club
  • Bring order into the hectic business of running a club. A plan provides an essential guide to the club committee, especially new members to that committee
  • Educate and provide information to groups/stakeholders external to the club. For example, it is usual for the local government to be an essential ‘partner’ for the club. Your local government should be provided with a copy of your plan or at least ‘walked through’ the plan to ensure they have an understanding of the club’s future.

Who should be involved in the planning process?

Your club is made up of all sorts of people that have all sorts of expectations of and from the club. Try to involve as many people in the planning process as possible as the more people consulted in the development of the plan, the more it will reflect the true direction of your club. Your members will also feel that the plan belongs to them and they will be more comfortable in assisting with its implementation.

In fact, many of your members may have skills and experience in planning through their workplace or other clubs – make use of these members and involve them.

A group of people should be invited to a planning workshop to brainstorm the basics of the plan. This group should be representative of:

  • Board/committee members
  • Volunteers
  • Sport participants
  • Paid staff
  • Coaches
  • Facilities operators
  • Officials
  • Sponsors
  • Parents
  • Other stakeholders in your club.
After your planning workshop, the draft plan should be circulated as widely as possible to your members to make sure that it reflects their needs.

When should you plan?

It is important to set aside some time for your planning to ensure that it receives the attention it requires. It is probably most economical to schedule your planning meeting with one of your sport’s regular gatherings. This could be a:

  • General meeting
  • Club tournament
  • Social occasion.

You will need to set aside a specific time slot in your schedule (perhaps a day or half-day) for your planning meeting. The meeting should be long enough to develop the basic framework of the plan, so the duration will depend on the size and complexity of your club.

Remember, the plan should be reviewed regularly to monitor your progress and make any necessary modifications. And the planning meeting should be a regular feature of your club’s calendar.

The planning pathway

Form a planning committee

A small group of committed people should get the planning process underway and ensure the plan is implemented and reviewed regularly. This committee needs to be endorsed and set some simple terms of reference by the club committee.

Hold a planning workshop

Invite a group of people (including administrators, coaches, officials, athletes, sponsors and facilities managers) to attend a planning workshop to develop the framework of your plan. A facilitator, or a person who is experienced in leading planning workshops, may assist your club to get the most out of the workshop.

Develop your plan

The planning committee or an entrusted individual writes up your plan. Remember

it does not need to be a complex document – it is best to keep it simple!  The plan needs to contain some basic elements:

  • Mission – a brief statement explaining the purpose of your club and why it exists. An example may be, "to promote tennis as an enjoyable, healthy sport for people of all ages and ability levels in our community".
  • Club goals – statements that explain the broad directions of your club. For example, "to encourage the provision of opportunities for participation in tennis by all members of the community".
  • Objectives – what specifically does your club want to achieve by the end of the planning period? Make sure your objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and have a timeframe. An example of an objective may be, "to double the number of registered junior players by the start of competition".
  • Actions (what) – what needs to be done to achieve the objectives? An example of an action to achieve the objective of doubling the number of junior players might be, "to produce a promotional brochure for distribution to local schools".
  • Responsibilities (who) – who is responsible for completing the actions?
  • Timeframes (when) – when do the actions need to be completed?
  • Resources – how much is it going to cost?

Consult with your members

  • Make sure that your members understand your plans
  • Remember that it is their plan too!
  • Make any necessary changes to the plan.

Promote your plan

  • Make sure your new plan gets plenty of publicity. Put it in your newsletter, on your website and Facebook, and send a copy to sponsors
  • It is your plan – you should be proud of it
  • The more you promote the plan, the more people will know about it and help you to implement it.

Implement it!

There is no point in developing a plan that will gather dust on the shelves. Make your plan a living, breathing document that helps people to get the job done. Evaluate it and modify it if necessary – it may not be exactly what you want or can achieve first time around.

Your plan should form the basis of your reporting on progress and discussion at your club committee meetings. By doing this, each committee member will have a clear guide and understanding of what is expected from them as a member of the committee.

Celebrate success

As objectives in the plan are achieved, let everyone know about it – no matter how small.

Related pages

Page reviewed 11 September 2023