No law is gonna change us. We have to change us!

These ten words from rapper Macklemore’s song, Same Love, pack a punch. Macklemore is an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, and the theme of the anthem Same Love is about being socially responsible when in a position of power. As leaders in the sporting community, we need to be mindful of these responsibilities as well.

Do you know why?

As a collective of people with similar interests, how an organization grows can have a significant impact and influence on the surrounding community. This is whether we intend it to or not. In our last article, we talked about utilizing community Facilities and hosting Events to bring awareness to an organization. In the promotion of an active and healthy lifestyle through community-based events, we are already sending a great message.

That’s only half of it!

An article released by talks about the post-Enlightenism shift away from religion to secularism. This has generated a spiritual void that many are looking to fill. With strong similarities between church and sports organizations, many fill this void with sports participation. Similar to spiritual organizations, there is a strong sense of community within the sport as there are similar underlying objectives and beliefs. Tight communal bonds are often forged through the trials and tribulations that typically come with sport. Those bonds create a close-knit community with a strong sense of belonging. The 2012 article from the Inquiries Journal highlighted the importance of focusing on the impact that professional athletes can have on fans. As well as the potential impact had on the world around them. We need to be mindful of the impact that our organization can have on the community as well.

How do you Grow?

The mission statement for your organization is critical. What is the core fundamental reason for your organization? Review and ensure that every decision that you make aligns with that mission. Review that mission with your decision-makers to ensure they are in alignment with that mission as well.

As you act on your mission, and your messaging gains momentum in the community, people will take notice. As they take notice, word will spread, interest will grow, and the community will be interested in joining and/or partnering with you.

That additional growth will become exponential as you continue to get bigger allowing you to hold larger community-based events that promote your organization. However, promotion doesn’t always have to be direct. There is a multitude of ways to help your community that will lead to indirect promotion, working with food banks, cleaning up parks/rivers, or hosting information sessions.

It may seem counterintuitive to redirect valuable organization resources to community initiatives or alternative clubs. But, when properly aligned with like-minded partners your organization will feel bigger than it is, and more people will want to get involved.

Where to Go from Here?

As part of your season planning sessions, look at the events, partnerships and other opportunities to ensure they align with your organization’s mission. Often an existing event can simply be repositioned in how it is marketed to better align with your mission. Your community will take notice of that subtle change, and will feel better about what you are doing. Once ready, you can start to host larger and larger events that have a greater and greater positive impact!

By securing Facilities and hosting Events you are already promoting a healthier community. Many of us will already realize the importance of staying active for the physical body. Getting those fluids moving through your joints, getting the blood pumping, fresh air, those dopamine rushes from the competition. These are all great things, but, there is also the need to exercise yourself mentally and be socially engaged with peers. Bring forward positive messages through your various engagement platforms. Make your members feel good about themselves, and being a part of your organization. The community will remember that positive message or engaging event that made them feel good about themselves and their friends.

Let’s now take a look at the next steps in having an impact on the community: creating and engaging with community partners, volunteering with community organizations, and putting on community events.

Community partners like the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada bring a positive impact on the community in the areas in which it operates. Utilizing a cross-promotional partnership can leverage both organizations' memberships to grow the community in a positive direction. These types of partnerships will also demonstrate your organization's commitment to bringing positive change.

These past couple of years have been hard, and at least here in Canada, many Food Banks have seen a significant increase in usage. Leveraging your membership to assist with a few volunteer hours is a way that a small contribution from a few can bring about significant positive change.

Lastly, you can look to put on larger community events. These do not need to be related to your organization's core focus, or sport. This could be an event where: players drop off/exchange equipment, ticket sales or admission fees are redirected to another organization, or you host an information session on sensitive topics like concussions or mental health. All of these bring about positive change.

As word within the community spreads about the positive influence, more members of the community will be willing to get involved. Developing youth volunteers within your organization will allow them to develop job skills preparing them to move into the workforce. With close mentorship, they will be able to not only help with the workload, but excel in their position, and help with the training of other volunteers. As you get to know the youth, the best may be interested in taking on higher roles or paid positions within your organization like timekeepers or referees/umpires.

The contrary to youth volunteers would be returning veterans or retirees. Times have likely changed since they were a part of the organization. However, they have a wealth of practical experience to share that can save countless hours of relearning the hard way. Generational volunteers are also a great statement to the community about the quality of your organization.

Events and positive community involvement will naturally bring in volunteers looking to help further grow and add to the success of your organization. Be welcoming to their help, and spend time developing them into their roles regardless of what that looks like. Most importantly, be respectful of the time that they are willing to spend with the organization so that the help that they provide is 100% per task, and not 100% shared over two, three or even ten different tasks.

In conclusion

It is important to understand the unique situation that community organization leaders are in. By acting in a socially responsible way, and influencing the community in a positive direction, your organization will indirectly grow. People of the community whose belief systems align with that of your organization will be more comfortable, and ready to volunteer their time and grow your organization with great zealousness.

In taking care and growing your community the community will look to take care and grow your organization. Showing everyone that they are all part of the Same Love.


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