Now is the time – Sport Making a Positive Difference

Part 4:  Raising your Profile & Telling Your Story

The aim of this blog series is to engage clubs in a new way of thinking about sport whilst they are in period of reflection. This is the final part of a 4-part blog series targeted at basketball club leaders who have a passion for positively changing lives through sport. In this blog, we will detail how to tell your club’s changing lives story, extending the profile of your changing lives work.

In Blog 1 we introduced the concept of the ‘Changing Lives Through Sport’ approach and encouraged you as a club leader to consider this new way of thinking about sport during this period of reflective time. In Blog 2, we moved to considering how your club would have to adapt to operate effectively using this approach. In Blog 3, we detailed how you can identify your local challenges and what your club could do to make a positive difference to people’s lives as we ease out of lockdown.

When delivering a changing lives through sport programme, you will need to tell your community what you are doing and maybe funders in order to fully benefit. This will be raising your profile. We will discuss why this is important to get right and give you some pointers to embed into your practice.


Stay Relevant, Times are Changing

Over the last year, there has been a new strategy set for sport in Scotland. Major pillars of this strategy relate to taking a ‘person centred’ approach, developing life skills through sport and wellbeing, both physical and mental. This overarching approach is ‘changing lives through sport’. Funding and even sponsorship towards sport has changed as a result and many organisations will only invest in these areas. Sponsors are less concerned about ‘exposure’ and want to see the ‘social difference’ they make as a result of their investment. Funders are exactly the same.

Significant pots of investment for stand-alone performance or even mass participation sport are dwindling. So if you want to be invested in, I recommend adapting to the approach by taking what you have learnt over the series of the blogs. If you are able to intricately detail how you undertake ‘changing lives through sport’ then that may shine positively on investors. Here are some tips on how to do that.

Telling Your Story

Case studies can be an effective way to demonstrate how you have impacted an individual’s life. Having a portfolio of case studies would help prove to an investor the impactful work your club does. I would recommend taking time to carefully build up your portfolio of case studies. Remember to work with the individual throughout the process when building. Case studies need to be written well in order to capture the readers interest. Here is one way that this could be achieved.

The 5 C’s is an easy one to remember:

  • Context: The Backstory – introduction to the hero’s world
  • Catalyst: The Event – something changes in the hero’s world
  • Complication: The Obstacle – the hero is faced with a problem and a choice
  • Change: The Transformation – the hero decides on a path and a plan to overcome the obstacle
  • Consequence: The Resolution – the hero’s character, fate, world and worldview are altered

Overarching this approach, your club needs to show it has the ‘changing lives through sport’ approach at heart. You need to demonstrate the method of how your club makes its impact step by step. Visually, this is best done by discussing your ‘theory of change’ model in your application. ‘Change,’ in the term ‘Theory of Change,’ is the ultimate vision of social impact that your club wishes to create. A “theory” is simply your idea for how you believe you can make that happen. It doesn’t need to be complicated but remember who your audience is. The bigger the funder, the more robust model you would need to demonstrate.

The ‘Results Chain Model’ below, is a simple yet effective way to discuss the ‘knock on’ impacts of your stage-by-stage approach. This model may not go into great detail about your club but is a great way to indicate the changes of a particular programme to a group of people.

The tiered theory of change model below, gives a small insight into the core operation of your club whilst giving a view to your programme activities and the impacts it has. I have recently done both and I would recommend that these models go hand in hand to provide a deeper insight into your club. In my experience, these models are appropriate for small charities, other smaller grants or community planning stakeholders. The below model breaks down your change into three key stages and is easy on the eye.



A further robust theory of change model may be required for big funders or investors. For example, The Robertson Trust. In my experience to date, to be successful in this moment in time, you would require a change model which defines long-term goals and then maps backward and forward to identify necessary preconditions. It shows how impact flows through your club’s resources and activities to get the results you are after. Be prepared to take time with this and a few versions may be required before you are ready to launch. One of the best I have seen is from a charity called ‘Football Beyond Borders’. Check out their theory of change on page 10 here:


The Real Time Example – Fit Minds

Hear how Sam Parfitt from the True Athlete Project, who is also the Wellbeing Manager at The Crags, has been able to tell the story of the impact his organisations are making.

Blog and Series Wrap Up

An increasing element of running a successful sports club or organisation is the ability to attract investment. Sport in Scotland is increasingly focusing on more than results, on more than performance. Sport in Scotland is now about changing lives. This appeals to sponsors or funders who want to be a part of social difference and of changing lives. Clubs need to tell their story, to demonstrate the impact on an individual’s life. Case studies can be effective, but it is also important to be able to show how changing lives is the lifeblood of your organisation. Understand, and articulate this. Use a theory of change model to clarify your thinking, to help you apply for funding and, to appeal to potential sponsors.

The sporting landscape was changing before COVID-19 was on the horizon. As the pandemic continues, the appeal for Changing Lives Through Sport becomes ever more relevant and through this Blog series I hope you have a better understanding of it and how it can work for your club.