New program aims to help local clubs stand on own two feet

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Australian Rugby Foundation (ARF) is rolling out a new program to help local rugby clubs stand on their own two feet financially.

The ARF is the national fundraising body for rugby and its funds go towards various projects in Australia, including the Australian schools' recent tour of Europe, the Wallaroos’ 2017 World Cup campaign, Classic Wallabies community work and helping local rugby clubs.

The body recently launched  a new fundraising tool kit, an adaption of the Australian Sports Foundation template, to give clubs the ability to create projects for their specific needs rather than going through the national arm.

Clubs often have to chase grants for major projects but ARF executive director Peter Murphy says this new strategy focused on arming clubs with the knowledge to help work towards their own fundraising efforts.

Rugby AU has copped criticism over the Wallaroos and Black Ferns' warm-up venue. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyThis year, on top of the tool kits, Murphy will visit states and give clubs workshops on how to encourage more tax-deductible donations from the local community, giving people involved with the club the ability to see their money making an impact immediately.

“If I was to find a donor in, say the Hunter's Hill rugby club and ask him or her for $5000 to give to the national body and then the ARF gives that back to Hunter's Hill some way, it was just so far removed,” he said.

“What we want to do is make sure that those in the Hunter’s Hill rugby club are being asked to give to local rugby in Hunter’s Hill and that's where the model comes from.

“If Johnny's playing at his local rugby club in Australia and mum and dad are really engaged with that club, they know they can make a tax-deductible donation and they know it's going to help Johnny with his scrumming, buy a new scrum machine or help with getting new lights or if it's going to help him renovating the change room so girls will have their own change rooms, they're not sharing with the boys.

“All of those issues which are all community based issues and community based programs.”

With almost every club around Australia likely requiring something different, Murphy said the new club first approach would give those communities the ability to target the issues they really need.

“The great thing about it is the club is raising for the needs that they want, they're not being dictated to by Rugby Australia or not dictated to by their state association, they’re dictated by what the club needs, what the club wants on a yearly basis.

“They’ve got more chance of getting investment into their clubs from their closest members and those who are most engaged.”

Club XVs numbers are on the up. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyThe tool kits, which have all been individualised for each state or territory, are not a one size fits all plan but give clubs a host of options to look at when it comes to asking for donations or fundraising.

‘There's developing the projects they may want to fundraise for, maybe they can fundraise for multiple things, there’s infrastructure improvements, there's tournaments - we’ve been in talks with the Kiama 7s at the moment to put together a project to help fund that tournament.

“They're looking at launching their fundraising program early next year.

“We've helped them set that up, that's going to make that much more sustainable.

“Not everyone wants to be a sponsor or is in a position to be a sponsor but they might be able to give a one-off tax deductible donation to help some of the fixed costs.”

In 2018, rugby attracted more than $2.5 million in donations, which was a 52 per cent increase on 2017 and saw the code listed in the top four Australian Sport Fundraisers.

It is still well behind the national leader AFL ($12.3 million) but Murphy said the sport was keen to keep that growing, though he admitted it wouldn't be an instant change.

“It's going to take a little time, there's no doubting that at all, but I think you're starting with a tool kit, we'll start with the workshops and then we'll keep forging ahead in making and increasing that investment,” he said.

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