In 12 months GiveToLocal has created jobs, supported communities and cultivated a growing business network in the face of the coronavirus crisis

Twelve months ago, Newcastle United defender Paul Dummett faced the media to explain why community sport matters so much to so many.

The Wales international braved a chilly Tuesday afternoon at Newcastle East End FC to talk to BBC Look North, The Sun, The Athletic and more about the enduring value of grassroots football to people of all ages and abilities.

Paul highlighted the fantastic work of committed coaches, tireless volunteers and invaluable fundraisers before describing his own remarkable journey from starry-eyed kid to Premier League favourite.

The Magpies defender had agreed to share his thoughts on a subject close to his heart on the day that community sport organisation GiveToLocal pitched its regional launch.

A new name on the region’s sporting scene, the Tyneside- based service would follow up with a star-studded national launch at the London headquarters of Google-backed recurring payments provider GoCardless six weeks later.

However, even the most optimistic of onlookers couldn’t have predicted GiveToLocal’s extraordinary evolution during one of
the most testing global crises in living memory.

“When I look back to that afternoon at Newcastle East End with Paul, Rob Elliot and Gateshead’s Mike Williamson and JJ O’Donnell it seems like a lifetime ago,” admits Neil Gardiner, Chief executive and co-founder of GiveToLocal.

“Nobody knew who we were, nobody knew what was on the horizon and nobody could have imagined how we would have to pivot in the face of a global pandemic in order to push forward with our plans to transform the fundraising landscape in community sport.”

Neil was always the man with the plan but back then a new organisation with grand ambitions was still laying its foundations and looking to the future.

“Twelve months down the line I look at what we’ve achieved and I couldn’t be prouder,” adds Neil. “We’ve already created a further 20 jobs in the North East and nationally more than 55,000 teams across 15 sports are registered with GiveToLocal and looking forward to a brighter financial future.

“In addition, we’re building a corporate network that provides businesses with a unique way of supporting their communities. We haven’t held back and we’re determined to make an even bigger impact in 2021.”

The June appointment of David Broom, as GiveToLocal’s head of corporate relations, allowed the organisation to pick up the pace as a key player in the North East’s robust business community.

Unfazed by the challenges presented by COVID-19, the Scot set about laying his cards on the table and encouraging the region’s corporate movers and shakers to become part of a growing movement for positive change.

“My focus is twofold,” explains David. “On the one hand, I’m building the GiveToLocal business network but at the same time, I’m committed to returning value to that network.

“Alignment to — and inclusion in — our regional and national campaigns allows our partners to demonstrate an even closer commitment to the communities they already support.

“If you’re part of the GiveToLocal network then you have the chance to become part of local, regional and sport specific campaigns. Then there are the B2B opportunities we can offer: we’re already facilitating outcome-focused introductions  between partners.

“We’re happy to be measured on the impact of our network and we’ve already been able to create a national footprint within a tight timescale.”

David oversees a corporate relations team of four and has been tasked with filling another seven roles before April 2021.

The appointments of Mel Bullock as key account executive and James Rooney as corporate relations manager reflect GiveToLocal’s ambition to support its core service and continue to invest in communities across the North East and beyond.

“We’re working with more and more clubs across the UK and our corporate relations team needs to grow in line with what we’re doing on the ground,” adds David.

“The fact that we’re able to create jobs in the region and help partners to source new business here is an added bonus.”

James Ramsbotham, chief executive at the North East England Chamber of Commerce, has already talked of sharing a common aim with GiveToLocal in terms of enabling the region to thrive in the face of COVID-19. He admitted that the service’s ethos and ambition resonates with the Chamber’s ongoing support of the business community and Neil adds: “Knowing that we’re aligned so closely to James and his team gives us the confidence to broaden our reach and strengthen our impact.

“The Chamber has been incredibly supportive of our work so far and we’re determined to repay that faith in our service and its aims.”

GiveToLocal aims to feed an additional £10 million a year into community sport by encouraging donors and sponsors to embrace a user-friendly web-based application.

Donors can pledge as little as £3 per month and businesses can offer entry level support from just £8 per month.

Gateshead Storm Rugby League registered with GiveToLocal earlier this year and applied to take part in the October launch of the organisation’s Focus Clubs initiative. Successful applicants were given priority access to the latest version of the GiveToLocal application and offered an enhanced support package to maximise their fundraising potential.

“From day one we saw the power of the GiveToLocal model,” says Storm’s treasurer Neil Emmerson.

“It’s such a fantastic idea that I couldn’t understand why someone hadn’t thought of it before!

“The Rugby League World Cup is due to kick off in Newcastle next year and there’s an opportunity for everyone involved in the sport up here to grow the game.

“With the support of GiveToLocal, I feel we can be in an even better position to do that.

“Gateshead Storm prides itself on being the North East’s leading community rugby league club but we’re always looking to evolve and improve.

“Working alongside GiveToLocal is an opportunity to do that. I’m so grateful for their support and genuinely believe their service can make a lasting difference to community sport.”

To discuss partnerships, email head of corporate relations David Broom at