The Orienteering Foundation is a charity that promotes and supports orienteering, to bring all the benefits orienteering has to offer the people of the UK, and to ensure that the sport is here for the enjoyment of generations to come.
The Foundation operates within its objects, its Board capacity, and its financial size. The Board of Trustees is a volunteer Board with members based across the UK. The Board meets 6 times a year, twice face to face and the rest in teleconference. Our overriding strategic goal is to:
Deliver meaningful and effective support to the development and continuance of orienteering.
Drawing from the past
The Foundation was formed using the remaining part of a legacy gift from Bertie and Elsie Ward in 2006. Over the years it has continued to support orienteers, accepting funds from donations, regular giving and club support, and using those to support a wide range of new projects to expand access to the sport.
It has always been a Foundation of orienteers with orienteers in mind and this will continue with Board members drawn primarily from the orienteering community. The Foundation will only grow if the orienteering community values its work: in recent years the Foundation has promoted its activity more actively to ensure people are aware of the wide range of activities it has supported and the further opportunities its financial support can offer.
Although independent, the Foundation has a good working relationship with British Orienteering and works closely with that body to ensure that activity is consistent and effective, and that new areas for support can be identified. A new working relationship statement was developed during 2018 (see here) which underpins the ongoing collaboration.
Looking to the future
Two examples of areas of concern that we hope to address are:
- Firstly, the Foundation is concerned that the demographic make-up of the orienteering community is unbalanced, with high dropout rates at various ages from 13-24 and particularly pre- or post-university resulting in a large group of older orienteers. It is essential that new people are encouraged into the sport and drop-outs minimised before the experience of the current senior cohort is lost.
- Secondly, as a volunteer sport, orienteering is resource heavy and whilst overall competitor numbers are on the rise, the number of events is dropping. The worrying indication here, supported by anecdotal evidence from clubs, is that the volunteer group is shrinking. This is related to the demographic changes, but also from a change in the nature of competitors where pay and play may be preferable to club engagement. Changes in technology have both helped and hindered this; some tasks have become more efficient – mapping, planning and managing entries and results, but have also become more challenging for volunteers who are not IT savvy. The Foundation has helped with the enhancement of a course map preparation tool, Open Orienteering Map, but there is much work to do.
We will validate these areas of concern as we pursue priority 1 below, and they will inform our approach to grants in priority 2.
Our four key priorities are as follows:
1. Understand the orienteering community, and its current and future needs
- Invest time in understanding key issues for orienteering such as:
- Financial issues
- Membership composition and age group changes
- Understand our donors and potential donors
- Identify and stimulate opportunities to support technological innovation for orienteering
- Develop an Ambassador programme and recruit to ensure UK coverage and engagement
- Continue to develop the website as a resource for orienteers interested in supporting or requesting support from the Foundation
2. Deliver a highly visible, people-friendly service to the orienteering community and which is focussed on making the highest impact
- Develop a marketing and communications strategy to consistently promote activities and opportunities:
- Set a minimum level of communication that can be supported by the Foundation
- Set an annual budget for marketing & communications in terms of both time and money to ensure the overhead to the Foundation is understood
- Ensure achievements are published and that there is a focus on showing the public benefit of Foundation-supported activity
- Develop and maintain a communications network and channels including:
- Our own web site, newsletter and social media feeds
- Regional association links
- BOF conferences and newsletters
- Club newsletters (through clubs gets us closer to individual members)
- Define high quality in grant applications then stimulate receipt of such high quality applications
- Develop a grant qualification process which is transparent, fair and aligned to the Foundation strategic priorities
- Ensure the application process is easy to access and use
- Advertise the availability of grant funding
- Ensure the successful grant award process is clear with a conditions letter, and that this is followed up rigorously to ensure funds are being appropriately used and adequately publicised
3. Deliver a legally compliant, financially solvent charity trusted as an honest broker by the orienteering community
- Ensure the Board operates to a high standard of governance, including keeping up to date with developments in the charity sector
- Publicise our governance initiatives, policies and practices to generate confidence in the Foundation’s current and potential donors
4. Grow and diversify our funding sources to ensure funding is available for critical initiatives
- Establish the capability to handle major gifts including legacies
- Identify options to increase current and future potential funding streams