Clubs are a very important part of Rowing Ireland and they are crucial to our future. Having clubs that are self-sufficient and forward thinking will make the future brighter.

Rowing Ireland are also there to support and help our clubs through initiatives we provide such as Women In Sport, which includes webinars and the Women on the Water program, the Get Going Get Rowing program which has seen huge success introducing schools and others to our sport, our excellent Coach Education system which has been continuously improved and developed over the years and continued with a hybrid model through Covid-19 to further support our coaches. Rowing Ireland also provides Garda Vetting and Safeguarding to ensure the safety of all our members within the clubs. Finally, Rowing Ireland also help with any queries or issues involved with events and help support our clubs to make the days as fun and enjoyable for everyone as we can.

How does a club become self-sufficient?

Funding is an integral issue when we talk about clubs becoming self-sufficient. How many committee hours have been spent asking the question how do we fund our club? With less money being made available to national governing bodies and clubs through government funds, clubs have to be inventive in how to make income for their club to pay for overheads and for upkeep and upgrading of our fleets.

Increase in annual membership subscription is one way but, everyone is struggling with the rapid rise in the cost of living so for some clubs this may not be an option. As a club, you should consider the product you are offering your members. Your members get access to tens of thousands of euro worth of equipment, club houses, dressing rooms, hundreds of hours of safe, enthusiastic, qualified coaching and entry to regulated and competitive competition for all ages. When our clubs set their membership subscription, they should not sell themselves short the product and services you provide to your members and the community is of a very high standard.

Other funding streams come in the form of fundraising and sponsorship, as our clubs grow and the infrastructure becomes larger and more modern, there may be opportunities to rent the premises for meetings, parties, exercise session or community gatherings. Even small clubs may be able to offer space to other organisations that will see a mutual benefit for both parties. Many clubs now have a lotto system running that brings in money every week., other clubs run regattas or competitions to bring in funding. Running a 5K or 10K road race or triathlon may also bring in much needed revenue to help clubs become self-sufficient.

Our members are our strongest assets, it is important that we communicate with our members so they understand the value of your product and the cost of maintaining and running a rowing club. If your members are aware of the cost of running a club, they will be more willing to help in the fundraising and may even have access to funding streams that the committee did not already explore. The worst words for a committee to hear after putting a huge amount of time and effort into planning, delivering, and hosting an event, is to hear one of the club members say “oh! You should have told me you were doing that, sure I have access to all that equipment or funding that you required, why didn’t you tell me?”

Our strongest assets as a sport, a community, a club is our volunteers. Rowing clubs have survived for hundreds of years due to the time and effort put in by many wonderful, inventive, passionate and organised volunteers. For a club to become or remain self-sufficient we must continue to encourage, recognize and support our volunteers. There are very few if any clubs in a position to pay all their coaches for the hours and hours of coaching and mentoring of our athletes. For a club to be self-sufficient we must create an atmosphere where our volunteers, our athletes, our coaches and our officials feel wanted and a part of the future of your club and a future of rowing in Ireland.