The COVID-19 pandemic has hit everyone hard, and sadly we are no exception. Combined with a number of unfortunate coincidences, our club is in dire financial straits. We have lost all income from membership, all funding from our student union, and all of our usual avenues for acquiring funding.
Without your help, the club will struggle. Currently we cannot make vital safety repairs to our boats, or fund the day-to-day activities of the club. Past this, we cannot make necessary equipment purchases, qualification enrolments, or staff hires to ensure longevity of the club.
This is why we have decided to offer sponsorship opportunities to our supporters - whether they be individuals or companies. We offer a range of one-off and recurring partnerships, and for our corporate sponsors a unique opportunity for promotion at national events.
See below for more details on how we have been impacted.
Income from membership
We recently moved boathouse to Medway. Unfortunately, this move was severely delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic: even once UK lockdown restrictions had eased, many student union staff were furloughed - they could not sign the necessary paperwork until almost November. This had a knock-on effect on recruitment: September is our primary opportunity to find new members, via university events. Of course, the ensuing November and January UK lockdowns prevented any further recruitment or club activity.
Overall, we could not provide beginners’ sessions, and could only provide a single week of training for our seniors. We could not justify charging membership fees for this.
Funding from our student union
The University of Kent has had serious financial difficulties in the last few years - including a £60 million deficit for the 2018/19 financial year. This has unfortunately coincided with a university-wide organisational re-structuring. Overall, a great deal of funding has been sacrificed, and many university employees laid off. Student clubs have been hit particularly hard, with the student union suffering funding cuts, employee losses, and largely being furloughed.
Both our annual funding for day-to-day operation and a development fund of £75,000 have fallen through due to the current climate. The latter was a critical injection into the club to rejuvenate our fleet, which had been suffering from years of underfunding. This was key to the survival and sustainability of our club.
Avenues for funding
Many clubs benefit from supportive alumni, with fond memories of their time at university - and we are no exception. Contact with our wonderful alumni is through the university Development Office - unfortunately it seems all staff here have been furloughed, and we have been unable to make contact.
We have been pursuing other grants and sources of income. However, some are limited to clubs without the backing of a university, and others cannot provide enough to save the club. We continue to pursue these opportunities, and remain hopeful that some respite will come from them. Currently, we have no viable way of securing the funding we so desperately need.