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National Governing Bodies Benchmarking Survey Report 2020

28th January 2021

Welcome to haysmacintyre’s sixth annual UK National Governing Bodies (NGBs) benchmarking survey. 

Based on detailed responses from 15 organisations across the sector, our survey offers detailed management information against which NGBs can benchmark themselves, that reveals trends both in financial performance and governance, and highlights what the sector perceives to be the key threats for the future. 

COVID-19 has dominated the landscape across our sector this year. Due to the current pandemic, some organisations have struggled with resource to complete the survey and there are fewer participants than usual. This will need to be considered as you analyse the results. It is also worth stressing in most cases the information is from the last reporting period, generally being 31 March 2020. This was obviously the early stage of lockdown, and it is a challenge for this report to ensure information is relevant in a completely changed world. To do this we have refocused the commentary on what it may mean now. We also specifically asked participants COVID-19 related questions for the survey to remain current and relevant. Inevitably, as you read this with the pace of change this year, things move on quickly and again this should be considered. 

The report covers key areas of income, expenditure, governance, and risks, interwoven with the impact of COVID-19 on these areas. 

We have reported in the last few years slight uplift of commercial income in the sector. For the year to March 2020, this was relatively static. NGBs have been trying to diversify revenue away from public funds for some time. The impact of the pandemic is twofold, it has caused greater reliance (at least in the short term) on public funds. Secondly, those who have had greater success in moving away from public funds have been the ones most impacted by the pandemic. We have looked at the likely impact on surpluses in the sector this year and the vast majority (60%) are reporting that they are likely to make a loss this year.

In terms of expenditure, we have looked at spend in specific areas which may need to change as the sector transitions to the ‘new normal’. Areas such as IT investment and premises costs in a potentially changing work environment have been looked at. We have included usual staff costs information in the survey, but this should always be taken with caution as the NGB sector is spread all over the country and location significantly impact the results.

The figures for Black, Asian and Minority Ethic (BAME) representation on boards have not progressed significantly and although many organisations have been working hard to make changes, the sector will need to reconsider how best to move forward in this area. This is likely to be a major focus of the next iteration of the Sports Governance Code (the Code) and organisations should see this as a priority. 

We asked NGBs to specify the issues they consider the biggest threats for the future, it is no surprise that many related to COVID-19 and the impact of it. We have itemised these into constituent parts and not as a ‘COVID-19’ specific section per se. The three top issues included lack of diversification in income (exacerbated by the pandemic), losing membership which for the first time was very high and potential loss of funding. There will also likely be a long-term risk to public financing given government spending this year. 

As ever, we hope you will find our report a useful resource for your management teams. Our sample spans very large NGBs with significant budgets, through to smaller organisations, a point worth bearing in mind when comparing your own data to our averages.

Looking ahead, if you would like to suggest topics for us to examine in our 2021 report, or if you would like to participate in the survey next year, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

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