WAVENEY FC are celebrating after being awarded charitable status.
The Lowestoft-based club applied to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) following an FA Club ‘Pilot’ programme which they were invited to, over a weekend in November 2019 at St Georges Park.
This included many workshops including capital projects, finance , club development, governance and pitch maintenance.
Waveney FC Chairman Mark Gamble said: “This was particularly relevant and extremely useful as the club has been highlighted within the Local Football Facilities Plan (LFFP) as a club which fits the criteria for further development in terms of capital projects i.e. seeking to apply for funding for a 3G pitch as well as other improvements to our facilities.
“Having spoken to some other clubs over that weekend, they advised this was the way to proceed. As a result of being involved in the ‘programme’ The FA appointed us with an FA Consultant, Jamie Houchen, who continues to provide us with assistance and guidance using his experience and knowledge of being involved in football for a number of years.”
Mark said the club has been a member of ‘Sported’ for a number of years and received support from one of their volunteers, who helped to complete their charitable constitution and application which was tailored to the club’s own profile.
He said this was an invaluable service and one he would certainly recommend to other clubs in a similar position.
Mark outlined the benefits of achieving charity status.
“The club was previously an unincorporated organisation and therefore had no legal status and more importantly no legal protection for the club’s committee,” he said.
“Becoming a charity addresses this and gives the club the freedom to sign off any projects and also gives that protection to our committee from any liability.
“It also allows the club to seek further funding opportunities including gift aid from donations and will raise the profile of the club locally to hopefully attract more investment and increase participation.
“With being a charity, we have appointed a board of trustees which gave us the opportunity to bring in some new volunteers with the right skill set to take the club forward with a focus on the business / strategic element of the club.
Waveney U16 Girls (gold shirts) are pictured above in action in a local derby versus Kirkley & Pakefield U16 Girls (blue shirts) last season. Main photograph: Waveney Ladies (gold shirts) playing in their first-ever FA Cup tie versus Brett Vale (blue shirts) last September.
Mark, who said the club will receive a certificate in recognition that the club is a charity, outlined how this would benefit the club going forwards.
“Charities are widely recognised as existing for the social good and are trusted organisations and it allows the club to promote it’s charitable aims and objectives namely to provide association football for the public benefit, whilst being bound by the rules of the Charity Commission.
“Becoming a Charity will allow the club to apply for additional funding / grants which were not previously available to us.
“We now have a formal legal status which will allow us to improve our facilities as outlined within our club development plan, with certain tax benefits and would allow us to apply for gift aid on donations and legacies.
“The club will become more transparent in its decision making and we hope to attract more volunteers to the club who will have a wonderful opportunity to shape the future of the club.
“There will be little difference on the pitch In terms of the day-to-day running of the club and providing football to the community, but gives us the impetus to push through with those projects as identified within the LFFP.
“It will make the club more sustainable, which may seem a strange thing to say after 43 years of providing football to the community, but we have to ensure the club is here for another 43 years and plans to attract new volunteers and ultimately put in succession planning is an important part of securing the club’s future for the benefit of the local community.”
Waveney FC currently have 45 youth teams including 11 girls’ teams and an U18 team plus five male adult teams including veterans, two ladies’ teams, a walking football group, two disability groups and a Saturday morning club from four years upwards numbering around 100 children.
Meanwhile, youth players, have teamed up with their coaches to take part in family-friendly virtual challenges.
Players, their parents and siblings clocked up thousands of miles during lockdown through their ‘WFC to the Premier League’ challenge.
This has involved them virtually travelling from their home ground in Lowestoft to visit every Premier League club, with each age group tasked with achieving the combined total of 1,100 miles.
They have been joined by the senior section in running, jogging, biking or walking their way around the grounds.
The challenge is scheduled to finish on Sunday at Crown Meadow, home of Lowestoft Town FC.