Building Capability

Sustainability first

We have undertaken a major shift in the way we support capability development for small to mid sized organisations.

Our aim is to support the development of capability in organisations so, at the very least, they are able to keep doing what they are doing, and so they will protect people's safety. If an organisation has capacity and is motivated to achieve better outcomes over time then our work should support them to achieve those outcomes.

Our focus is on helping the people running sport and recreation organisations identify and address the few things that will make the most difference given their current challenges and hopes. We do this by investing in and working with partner organisations who in turn support provider organisations; and by providing tools and resources.



Our approach must:

1. Be sensitive to the challenges faced by the people running sport and recreation organisations
2. Make best use of people (paid and volunteer) and resources that are already available

Working together

We identified that to be successful we would need input from people running sport and recreation organisations and from the network of professionals who support those organisations.

Through group discussions, workshops, and electronic feedback more than 200 people contributed over 1200 hours to design the new approach. We talked to users of our previous tools and resources, representatives from national and regional sports organisations, regional sports trusts, territorial authorities, universities, government agencies and sports clubs. As a result of this consultation process our new approach is unlike any we have seen before.

Co-design is based on the idea that those closest to the problem have the expertise, insight and motivation to solve it. We will continue to work with partners, providers and experts to enhance and further develop how services will be delivered over time.

In practice

Sport Compass is publicly available for any organisation to access and self-register. We highly recommend that organisations find a mentor, for example from a Regional Sports Trusts, or National or Regional Sport or Recreation Organisation. We also recommend that the people leading the organisation work through the assessment together. This is a way to build alignment and a shared understanding of what needs to be done, by who and when.

Organisations choose whatever module/s in Sport Compass suit their type and scale of organisation. The approach described here relates to the core business module for small to mid-sized organisations. Each topic area within the module involves three levels. At level one the theme is sustainability and safety. For example an organisation might be asked whether their regular income is enough to cover their regular expenses. If the organisation responds in the negative to a question at level one then a secondary question may be used to identify whether the organisation is 'developing' in the area or is 'at risk'.

Once responses to level one questions are submitted the system determines whether the organisation is at risk, developing or ready to move on to level two. The theme at level two is improved satisfaction among the leadership, the paid and volunteer workforce and customers. The theme at level three is strategic thinking, future focus and connecting.

If an organisation has work to do at any level their assessment in that topic area stops. Advice and links to useful resources are provided and users are prompted to categorise the work as 'must', 'should' or 'could' do and make notes. Following completion of the module a printable report highlights must do action items and related notes.

Module topics - Core business for small to mid-sized organisations

The topics in this module reflect the few things most organisations need in order to function. Modules for large organisations cover individual subject areas in a lot more detail.

Module Topics


The following flow chart provides an overview of the process.


What does success look like?

Our vision is every organisation operating at or above level one. Fewer organisations might operate at level two and fewer still at level three.


Tell us what you think

We are constantly seeking feedback on our approach, the technology, questions and advice. Contact