Sally’s Blog

Follow our CEO, Sally Higham, as she documents the RunAClub journey.

Evolving RunAClub

When I set up and ran a youth club with 20 volunteers and 50 members twelve years ago, I never dreamt that it would lead to supporting not just 50, but almost 40,000 members of clubs all these years later.

Because that was what RunAClub was designed to do – solve the problems for leaders like me who were feeling swamped by admin and red tape. Now our team and the evolving digital platform has supported 280,000 community group or club sessions – that’s a heck of a lot of positive activity – whether you are a youth club, sports group, health or arts based, or just taking part in a hobby, everyone has red tape they need to follow.

Volunteering – a way of life

Week in and week out, I hear stories of individuals or community groups finding it incredibly hard to find volunteers and helpers (and of course the money) to run community projects – and the other volunteers and I face the same issues at the youth club I help with. In addition, there is increasing pressure to provide safe places for young people to have fun and /or learn safely and provide communities with new opportunities, the chance to develop new skills in leisure time, improve quality of life, and raise aspirations.  This is what RunAClub aim to help –  by providing the simple means of managing red tape and allowing activities to take place.

Proving Impact

Proving your impact has become a hot topic! We can help you with your output and outcome reporting and even produce some extremely useful and pretty infographics to demonstrate your impact and reach to your funders and partners. If you would like to see our infographic please message through the system

Christmas

It has been a very busy year at RunAClub HQ – we have welcomed some great new customers and renewed contracts with councils such as Devon, Dorset, Essex, Guernsey Youth, Manchester, Wiltshire, and sporting bodies such as Black Country Consortium, Lincolnshire Sport, Parkour UK, Sported, UK Dodgeball, Walsall Sport and Leisure, and national umbrella organisations such as the Royal Voluntary Service and UK Youth.

We are delighted to continue working with so many clubs, groups and projects and are really excited about getting all of the new clubs onto our system and working with them over the coming months and years. We have now supported over 24,000 sessions across the country and that’s a fantastic measurement for us. Volunteers have put in over 140,000 hours of support to their clubs during those sessions.

The RunAClub team are really chuffed when our customers decide to extend our agreements and recognise how they are getting, even more, value from our platform – have a look at some of our reviews of the fantastic groups using our system here and please do ask alexandra.bond@runaclub.com if you would like to see our more in-depth case studies or examples of our very visually appealing quarterly reports.

We were also delighted to receive the South West Women in Business Award for Innovation this year, which we’ve added to our trophy cabinet at HQ!

So 2016 has been another great year and we want to say a big thank you to our customers, our backers Nominet Trust, Big Issue Invest, Big Venture Challenge and Creative England and our partners – but 2017 looks like its going to be even better with some exciting new developments to the RunAClub platform which we think will help those hard-pressed volunteers keeping the countrywide sports clubs, arts groups, youth organisations and community groups alive and kicking.

Merry Christmas and have a very Happy New Year.

Failure – not in my vocab

At a conference last week I heard a repeated message about failure which I hear on an everyday basis these days. I hear that the top techs from Silicon Valley consider it positive to fail and I also heard Harvard like to trot this one out too. And this is why I don’t agree with it… I really don’t see failure. I think that projects or events can sometimes turn out in an unexpected or un-hoped for way, but I don’t see that as a failure. Even if you don’t reach a C grade for an exam, I don’t see that as a failure. I see all of these turns of events as just another opportunity to try or do something different. To take another approach or try a different subject. I don’t see any of those as a reason to cite ‘failure’ and just give up. If I had given up every time something didn’t turn out the way I expected, there is no way I’d have achieved anything in my life!

Many of you reading this are running small social or voluntary organisations, clubs or projects and I believe for that reason, most of you are tenacious. I know that despite tough funding circumstances, lack of available premises, the difficulties of finding volunteers to help you, you don’t give up. And if you are a business owner, academic, social entrepreneur, employee or employer, you also don’t give up. You persevere. You persevere because you believe in what you do is the right thing to do – which is exactly how the team at RunAClub feel. We believe we can change the world and our own cog in the big wheel is taken utterly seriously – we are fully committed to providing support to ultimately enable everyone to have access to a range of well-run clubs and groups in their local area.

So, sorry Silicon Valley and Harvard gurus, this very socially obsessed and ordinary individual in a slightly chilly England, just doesn’t agree!
P.S. RunAClub is growing from strength to strength! More on that in the next blog.

Team Awards

It was great to see that the Cabinet Office is committing more to supporting small and medium enterprises (SME’s) to take on government contracts. This is something many of our funders, partners and ourselves have really been keen to see take off. In fact we have been fortunate to work with many Local Authorities ourselves and I do think it’s beginning to get a little easier than it used to be.

We held our RunAClub team awards this week – which was great fun! – and I thought I would select just one award to bring to your attention as many of you will know this person. It was the RunAClub ‘Growth’ award and reflects how brilliantly Chloe, who came in as an inexperienced junior customer support person and has really taken on her role and grown with it to become an integral part of the tech and customer support team. I know many of you appreciate Chloe’s dedication to detail and willingness to help and we value those skills in the team. Well done Chloe!

We have started September with a whoosh – more new contracts and many hundreds of clubs and thousands of members to come on over the next quarter.

As ever we are here to help you run your club – just let us know how we can help.

Holidays

August tends to be a time some clubs and groups shut down, although for others this is their busiest time – particularly summer-time holiday groups for young people. Supporting close to 20,000 sessions now and with 24,000 members registered, we are going to be ramping up even more before long as we welcome another new Local Authority on board and a National Charity with their community clubs and groups needing help to run their admin – more news on these next time!

More and more customers are asking for two things: the ability to record, administer and manage small grants and grantees and the ability to manage a committee using RunAClub. We can already help you manage your grant recipients and we are now offering a committee module so if you would like to know more about this please contact us!

Thank you for being a part of this amazing team at RunAClub, a team who are all working together as customers, staff, volunteers and other partners. What a team it is!

Social/Business Organisations

I thought I would chat a bit about social/business organisations in case it’s of interest to you! There is a move from government to begin to really recognise social led organisations who operate to achieve social impact, within a business structure. Read more…I have been involved in some of the research to understand the benefits and how government could support these initiatives – I hope this will ultimately benefit many of you reading this who may run small social businesses alongside voluntary organisations for example. It’s a real alternative to purely charities and voluntary led organisations and will enable social investment into the sector. I’ll let you know if I hear more on this.

As we allow the referendum result to sink in, I hope the voluntary and social sector continues to work together as we have always done. I have been involved in community action all of my life and that certainly isn’t going to change – nor will it for all of you I’m sure. Community work is firmly and forever entrenched into our lives and extremely powerful – something to be proud of.

Happiness…

The team at RunAClub are at our happiest when we receive fantastically positive comments from customers who use the system – ‘fabulous resource’ was a comment we had yesterday. We are at our next happiest when we hit our impact number targets. We have just reached 15,000 group/activity sessions that we have supported and our members of groups and clubs across the country (3/4 of which are young people but 1/4 are across the other age ranges) has reached 20,000.

Someone said to me the other day that what we do isn’t ‘sexy’. So, sorry we aren’t ‘sexy’ but what we are is incredibly focused on supporting the bog standard and dull as ditchwater admin that every activity, group or club of any kind across the country has to complete. And as we welcome aboard Dorset County Council as our latest customer with 200 more groups, we think that we are pretty bloomin’ sexy!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder….:)

Sally