What is your purpose?

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What is your purpose? Do you know?

Do your members, stakeholders know? Does the community know?

In the business world, it is a fact that purpose-driven companies witness higher market share and grow faster, all while achieving a higher workforce and customer satisfaction.Over the years I have asked leaders in sports clubs and bodies, public health bodies, activity providers and many others the simple questions: “What is your purpose? What are you for?”

To be honest, most of the answers were either all over the place or they were very narrow such as “we are a football club, we are a leisure centre or we are a sports body”. Those attitudes will not help create enterprising, sustainable organisations which can develop a real impact for members, stakeholders and the wider community, rather the reverse.

A clear purpose is everything to an organisation. It articulates why an organisation exists, what problems it is here to solve and who it wants to be to each human it touches through its work.

All our work over the years has demonstrated that sports and community bodies with a clear purpose create deeper connections with people and communities, attract and retain talent, and indeed funding and thus achieve greater results and impact

Authenticity is paramount

 Unfortunately, we have also seen cases, some bodies come up with a clever strapline highlighting their, alleged, wider purpose while at the same time continuing ‘just being sport’ and people and the community see straight through that.


To paraphrase Groucho Marx:

So here are some ways you can demonstrate your authenticity in everything you do:


  1. Tell your story and make it impactful, demonstrating your commitment to creating an impact
  2. Walk the walk by being transparent and accountable for everything you do. There is now incredible transparency and we all have data at our fingertips, and you can achieve ‘trusted status’ by opening up new connections while growing your impact and scope.
  3. Put all humans at the heart of your decisions, by leading with purpose by occupying a meaningful place in the hearts and minds of all the people you touch.
  4. Let the purpose evolve, revisit your body’s cultural DNA and engage with siloed people and refine who you are in the world

So why does your centre/club/body exist?

Where have you come from? How did we get here? What makes us unique to members, volunteers, partners and the wider community


Getting people on board

It’s paramount that you take people with you and that they feel fully connected with your purpose. Unfortunately, we have seen cases where that was not the case with members, volunteers and staff and the whole thing falls flat.

This can not just be communicated through a presentation/statement from the Chair and/or a glossy Powerpoint presentation.  This is about commitment and execution – day in, day out!

How Edinburgh Spartans Academy’s purpose is ‘Here for good’

The charity is based in one of Scotland’s most deprived areas, Pilton, and seeks to deliver a positive impact through the power of people and sport in the local community and beyond.

They seek to achieve this through the delivery of a wide range of community-based programmes. E.g. from various youth work-based provisions to opportunities for young people to enjoy recreational activities and the chance to play in a safe, clean and modern space.

They provide a wide range of volunteering opportunities for people of all ages and support the education of young people through their Homework Clubs,

Alternative School and by providing a full-time youth worker for 2 local primary schools.  They also deliver football coaching programmes for children from age 3-12 years. 

They are recognised as one of the leading sport-based charities in the country and held up as an exemplar project by the Scottish Government.

Since 2008, The Spartans Community Football Academy has been working with the local community and their partners to deliver programmes and initiatives that have a lasting positive social impact in North Edinburgh.


Here for Good helps Edinburgh Spartans make a massive impact during Covid-19

A social enterprise doing good…

Spartans Community Football Academy is mindful of the challenges facing many young people and their families in our local area. They operate their facilities and community coaching programmes as a social enterprise, reinvesting profits back into the business to support our positive social impact in the community. When you buy coaching sessions for your kids or simply have a cup of coffee in our cafe you are helping them to change lives through sport.

Dealing with food insecurity 

After thrusting into the food insecurity space in 2020, they needed to continue to play their part, to do something relevant and sustainable. In addition, they wanted to supplement and support newly established provisions created to help tackle this ever-increasing social need.

Their new ‘Roots Shoots and Scores’ food production and sustainability education programme was launched and has flourished this past year. As part of this new innovative programme developed in partnership with ReThink Food Futures, school children learn about social business and are allowed to lead, manage and run a weekly pop-up pantry, which provides local families with a weekly food parcel. Families are invited to make an affordable donation if they are in a position to do so.

 In addition, their ‘blue coats’ have played a key part in helping to support local children and young people this past year. New projects – such as Sphero Superstars – have helped to improve children skills set, heighten engagement levels and shine a light on the amazing talent and capabilities which exist in our local Primary Schools. Now more than ever, they are driven to play their part in helping to close an attainment gap that has sadly increased as a result of the pandemic.

Running their “Girls in STEM” programme


Their Still Kicking programme attracts women of all ages each week. A welcoming place to socialise and be physically active. Free to attend every Thursday in Edinburgh.

Next blog:

How Westquarter & Redding Cricket Club went from a small cricket club to a community hub and #MoreThanAClub