Sports Connections Foundation (SCF), the Cambridgeshire based charity that uses sport to help and inspire children and young people across the UK who disadvantaged, poverty- stricken or living with life-limiting illnesses and conditions. has received a welcome boost. The charity has been granted funding from The Fore which has enabled the charity to create a new role for the first time in their history in the shape of an Income and Engagement Manager, a role which will drive SCF towards financial sustainability and transformational in the way they can offer more consistent support for their beneficiaries. Karen Olden brings many years of experience working in the corporate sector and more recently in the charity sector and brings a wealth of experience of partnerships and engagement.
After a difficult 2 years for the charity due to the pandemic, funding from Fore Foundation will allow Karen to implement a new fundraising strategy, volunteer programmes and create a new relationships and events portfolio which will enable the charity to become stronger and more financially sustainable. With many children and young people across the UK becoming more isolated and displaced during the past year, the funding and security for the I&E Manager post is critical as more children and young people need the charity’s support.
Sports Connections Foundation was founded by former professional footballer Junior McDougald back in 2010 with the goal of using the power of sport to develop positive futures for disadvantaged and vulnerable children as well providing exciting exit routes for young people. The charity runs various sports-related programmes including granting Sporting Wishes for children facing life-limiting illnesses and an Inspire Through Sport programme that provides mentoring, therapeutic intervention, shared experiences and exit routes for those sadly facing the challenges of mental health, social isolation, and economic deprivation. The charity receives no government funding and relies purely on donations and grants. The awarding of the grant will give a substantial boost to children in these situations, as more support and activities will be available to them to access.
Karen began the role as a volunteer; however, the grant request is to move the role from an initial venture into a practical and sustainable position. The charity has been very conscious of the need for a full-time fundraiser for many years having previously been reliant on the help of volunteers which was simply unstainable and left the children’s charity only being able to support children as and when funds permitted. The pandemic magnified the desperation for experience in an area where funding, financial support for many small charities had become even more scarce and difficult to source and clearly recognised the role required someone with corporate/charity experience.
When COVID hit, this gap was highlighted also due to the previous reliance on fundraising generated from their ProKick Schools Challenge which has always been the primary income stream for the charity, making it evident for the need to diversify and pivot accordingly. As a result of the funding from The Fore, SCF will become financially stronger, more adaptable, and able to absorb shocks of the current pandemic whilst growing and most importantly, engaging, inspiring and empowering children, the very reason they exist.
The Fore recognise the crucial role small charities play in local communities and will support the charity through workshops and seminars to help with areas such as cash-flow forecasting, marketing, business planning and trustee recruitment. Together with the charity they will identify impact goals and follow the charity’s progress through measuring results and data against these goals.
“It’s hard to find the words that truly express just how grateful we are to The Fore, not only their funding but also for the belief they have in us and the support they have given to our charity. It’s because of their help we have been able to recruit not only someone we believe will help transform the charity but someone who has actually walked in the shoes that many of our brave children have sadly had to wear, and we will be forever grateful for the opportunity that we have now been given by The Fore”
Junior McDougald - Co-Founder and Director
Maria Tarokh, Programme Manager, from The Fore said “The Fore is delighted to be able to support Sports Connections Foundation with this much needed funding. We have been blown away by the impact of their work and what they have achieved to date.”