Starting a new club 

Starting a new club can seem like a daunting task. But with a bit of guidance and information, it can be an exciting and rewarding opportunity to start something new or grow your sport.

Becoming incorporated

For information on how to become a formal and incorporated club visit the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety's Inc: A Guide for Incorporated Associations in Western Australia

Clubs don't need to be incorporated but it is highly recommended. 

Incorporation provides protection to individual members in certain situations and gives your organisation the right to sign contracts, lease premises, operate bank accounts, receive grant monies from Government and so on. In today’s sporting climate, it is considered very good practice.

What does incorporation mean?

When a group incorporates, it becomes a separate legal entity which is able to do things in its own name.

Benefits of incorporating

Incorporating under the Associations Incorporations Act 2015 provides:

  • Protection for members and officers of the club or association, meaning they are generally not liable to contribute towards the payment of debts or liabilities;
  • The right to enter into contracts, own land, open bank accounts, borrow money, receive grants from government, sue or be sued and employ staff.

The main benefits of incorporation are that the group has ‘limited liability’. Debts and legal proceedings in most cases will be limited to the assets held by the club. This protects individuals from the club (i.e. committee members) from being personally liable if something goes wrong. There are exceptions in the case that a person on the committee acts improperly or unlawfully, then they will not be protected.

For additional protection, it is recommended that organisations undertake Directors and Officers Liability Insurance (or Professional Indemnity Insurance) to protect committee members from being personally liable for decisions made.

Requirements of being incorporated

In simple terms, incorporated associations under the Associations Incorporations Act 2015 are required to:

  • Keep accurate records such as; rules and a register of members
  • Keep accurate accounting records and report to members
  • Hold an Annual General Meeting
  • Ensure committee members act responsibly
  • Ensure the rules (or constitution) is kept up to date
  • Reports to the Consumer Protection branch of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.
  • Follows all requirements set out under the Associations Incorporations Act 2015.

Remaining unincorporated

If your club or association chooses to remain unincorporated, it is important to understand that the club will not have its own legal status and office bearers (i.e. committee members) are at risk of being personally liable for any debts or legal costs incurred.

The club or association would be ineligible to; apply for government grants, enter into contracts, own/lease property and bring legal action in the group’s name.

It is recommended that unincorporated clubs develop a set of rules, similar to a constitution, that assists with decision making and governing the club. Such rules should be reviewed annually reflecting any growth or change in purpose.

Written rules

Booklet 12 of this series Establishing your club rules and becoming incorporated provides a step-by-step guide to establishing a set of rules.

Two simple rules:

  • Simplicity is the key to an easily read, understood and workable set of rules
  • Take time to understand the role of ‘by laws’ (rules that can be changed by the committee) as their use is very important in the day-to-day running of the club.

Running the club

You need to put a committee into place to run the club. Remember that small committees tend to be more effective so that all members can play a part in decision-making.

Clubs usually have:

  • A president: someone who leads the club and who acts as a chairperson at club meetings
  • A secretary: someone to deal with the administration work of the club
  • A treasurer: who handles the finances (money) of the club. Small clubs or groups often combine the duties of the secretary and treasurer
  • Plus two to four other club members that share the workload in various ways (e.g. fundraising, membership, social)
  • It is also useful to have a deputy to chair meetings when the president is absent.

Work out the main areas of responsibility, e.g. fundraising, social etc – then determine the size of the committee required. Recruit a qualified member for special projects as they arise, and try to avoid having people on a committee just to make up numbers.

Treasurer

The treasurer does not need to be an accountant. Small club accounts are not complicated, but an effective system right at the start is important.

Ask someone who knows how to set up a simple bookkeeping system to write down the steps for reference. There are many different and easy to use software packages for clubs to use for effective financial management. Be sure to use one.

Registering members

Clubs can use very simple hand kept records of who belongs to the club, their contact details and details regarding their financial status. It is wise to use a computer to keep records as it’s more efficient and effective.

It is recommended that initial registrations be done face to face (e.g. registration day) and after that, if at all possible, managed online to include the payment of fees by bank transfer. This is the most simple and effective method.

Sponsors

Sponsors can cover all or some of the activities of the club, in a general or event-specific way. Firstly, ask your club if sponsors are necessary.

If yes, be sure to prepare a proposal for any potential sponsor that clearly states what the club will do and at what cost for a sponsor. Then make sure you deliver all that has been promised in any sponsorship deal. Non-delivery will destroy a sponsorship arrangement and future relationships.

It is worth remembering that if you secure sponsor’s funds or goods that it is going to cost you time and effort to make the support worthwhile. 

It is usually better to get your club running efficiently and find sponsors only for specific projects when required.

Funding

There are a variety of grants available to community sport and recreation clubs. Your local government and/or Healthway may have grant schemes that you can access.

Postal address

Clubs don't need a post office box for mail but it is recommended. If the club is incorporated it is required to have an official address and must inform the Commissioner for Consumer Protection of this address. The club must notify the commissioner of a change of address within 28 days of it occurring.

Local government

It is highly advisable to contact your local government because:

  • the local government is possibly the club's most important partner
  • it establishes communication and develops a relationship
  • your local government may be able to help you with information and resources
  • it is also a good idea to provide your local government with a copy of your club plan

Your local government may also have services within their operations such as Club Development Officers and recreation officers that can assist.

Regional clubs

The department has regional officers with expertise in the delivery of sport and recreation including various aspects of running clubs/groups, junior sport, seniors, Aboriginal sport, coaching, officiating and volunteers that can help. Do not hesitate contacting your local department office.

State Sporting Associations

  • Affiliation with your State Sporting Association is highly recommended as they provide essential guidance on and for a range of critical issues
  • Along with local government your State Sports Association is an essential partner for the club
  • In some cases it’s obligatory, but it’s always desirable

Step-by-step to starting your club

  1. Establish a small group to carry out the tasks involved in establishing a club
  2. Make sure there is going to be an ongoing need for the club or group (i.e. what are the aims of the club?). You may want to talk this through with your local government and/or your State Sports Association.
  3. Make sure you have a base for your activities. This does not have to be a clubroom.
  4. Draft a set of rules. Be sure to consult the model rules published by the state government agency responsible for incorporation
  5. Decide whether to become incorporated
  6. Design an effective registration system
  7. Draw up a budget
  8. Make copies of the club’s rules and budget
  9. Call your prospective members together to:
    1. examine the draft rules and budget
    2. get agreement on your objectives.
  10. Ask members to consider standing for office.
  11. You may have to have a second get-together to:
    1. agree on the draft rules and costs
    2. enrol members (after payment of a nominal fee)
    3. elect office bearers.

Ten hints

  1. Draw up a club or group register of members’ and volunteers’ names, addresses, ages, occupations and other relevant information
  2. Develop a plan for the future. Keep records, both electronic and hard copy from the outset. They provide a valuable source of historical data.
  3. Plan and be realistic about your budgets for the year
  4. Keep your members informed by use of social media and/or a club or group newsletter. Organise a permanent address (post office box). Identify your club’s or group’s potential members and involve them in your activities.
  5. Hold regular, interesting meetings in which decisions are made! Good meetings keep clubs or groups alive (see Booklet 7 of this series, Making meetings effective – a short guide)
  6. Delegate – spread the workload. Members will be more committed if their talents are used and it will reduce stress on the elected representatives
  7. If appropriate, develop club colours, a uniform or organisation insignia
  8. Involve families and have a social aspect to your club or group
  9. Remember – take time to plan in detail with your members
  10. Think about:
    1. introducing junior, men’s, women’s, mixed and veteran teams
    2. developing a coaching committee
    3. using your state association’s coaching and officiating courses
    4. making sure members know the rules
    5. giving everyone a turn at umpiring.