Setting up an LGBTQ+ Group
You will need to identify running costs for your group and how they will be funded.
There will be some initial start-up costs, such as for equipment, as well as long term, ongoing costs, such as facilities. Membership fees might form a large part of your group’s income, although you will need to make sure fees are affordable, so your group is accessible.
Create a draft budget, accounting for all income and expenditure you can foresee.
You may decide to create a short term and a long-term budget, to have an overview of the day to day running costs and future costs respectively.
When considering membership fees for your group, it might help to look at the pricing structures of other LGBTQ+ sports and physical activity groups.
Funding exists to support sports and physical activity groups. These can be found in a variety of places, including:
- National Governing Bodies
- Active Partnerships
- Local councils
- The National Lottery Community Fund
- Local Councils for Voluntary Service
- The LGBT Consortium
Funding is often targeted at specific outcomes, from launching new activity to growing existing activity.
You may be required to have certain policies/ processes in place. Keep an eye on available funding sources and note which ones may be appropriate for your group in the future.
Other sources of income include sponsorships, club fundraising activities and partnerships.
There are a range of organisations offering support to sport and physical activity groups through affiliation. Some of these are LGBTQ+ organisations and some are not.
National Governing Bodies
Affiliation is the process of registering your group with a National Governing Body (NGB). You do not have to affiliate your group; however, it is worth considering any benefits or drawbacks of doing so.
Your clubs will need to fulfil a set of affiliation requirements and once affiliated, may have access to:
- Sanctioned competitions/leagues
- Sport specific funding
- Insurance (this may cover players individually, or your entire club)
- Support and guidance
NGBs may also require coaches or instructors to have certain qualifications.
Affiliating to NGBs may present some specific challenges for LGBTQ+ sports clubs, as you might have to adhere to a trans policy that does not fit with your group’s vision and purpose.
Many NGBs have restrictive and/or medicalised trans policies which can be barriers for trans and non-binary people. If you are unable to find the NGBs trans policy on their website, get in contact with them to find out more information.
Affiliation costs range between National Governing Bodies, which can be another expense to the group.
Your county will have an Active Partnership which supports sport and activity groups on a county-wide basis. Your Active Partnership may host courses for workforce development, club development and other areas, which could support your group. You do not have to affiliate to an Active Partnership.
The role of an Active Partnership is to create opportunities for inactive people to get into sport and physical activity. If this is the aim of your sport or physical activity group, there can be benefits to developing a relationship with the Active Partnership.
You can find your Active Partnership here
Some LGBTQ+ umbrella organisations exist in different sports
Gay Football Supports Network (GFSN) is a national football league for LGBTQ+ football teams, with regular fixtures. This league is inclusive of all genders and teams competing are not required to affiliate to the FA.
International Gay Rugby (IGR) is a worldwide LGBTQ+ rugby community
International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA) is the world’s international organisation devoted to developing and promoting gay and lesbian swimming, water polo, diving, and synchronized swimming
GLTA (Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance) is a global LGBT sports organization that sanctions over 70 competitive tennis events across the globe each year
European Gay and Lesbian Sport Federation (EGLSF) represents LGBTQ+ sports organisations across Europe and licenses the EuroGames LGBTQ+ multisport tournament which takes place every couple of years in a different European City
Federation of Gay Games (FGG) is a global LGBTQ+ sports organisation, which represents members from across the globe and licenses the quadrennial Global Gay Games multisport event.
You will need to promote your group’s activity to attract new members.
Building a thriving social media and website presence can help recruit new members, volunteers, attract sponsorships and showcase the activities your club provides in the community.
We know LGBTQ+ people tend to use the internet to find inclusive groups, activities and clubs so make sure your group is visible.
Whichever platform or method of promotion you use, use clear language about who your group is for. Be clear about trans and non-binary inclusion at your group.
Describe the level of activity as well- whether it is suitable for beginners or people with more experience, or whether it is recreational or competitive activity. Some LGBTQ+ people may be looking to return to sport and physical activity, or try something new, so will need reassurance that your group will be the right environment for them.
Imagery can be a very simple method of communicating who your group is for. Make sure photos and videos show a diverse range of members.
Sometimes you can use imagery alongside or instead of words. For instance, a graphic for a women’s session which has a trans flag on it, is an effective and visual way to demonstrate that trans women are welcome at your session. Use flags and other visual symbols in promotion and on your social media channels.
When creating social media accounts or a website, try to make them as accessible as possible. Include alt text on any pictures on your website, or image descriptions on photos/videos on social media accounts. This will help people with screen readers to access the media you are sharing.
If you post videos, make sure these have been captioned. This will enable people who are deaf or hard of hearing to engage with the video.
Activity Alliance, the national charity for disabled people in sport and physical activity, have created guidance documents on creating inclusive marketing and communications.
A website is a great place to store and share information about your group to existing and potential members. There are some important factors to consider with creating a website:
- Many free website design tools exist, providing a cost-effective way to promote your group
- A website can clearly show your club’s vision and purpose on the front page, which have a positive impact on potential members reading it
- Easy to house important club information and documents together
- Building a website is time consuming and can be difficult to produce a smart site
- Websites require regular updates with content and information
More information about creating websites can be found here:
There are many social media options available, so it is important for you to consider which one will be most effective for promoting your group and communicating with members. There are also pros and cons to consider with using social media platforms:
- Social media creates a more personal and relevant image of your group which can attract new members
- Easy and free to use
- Quick way of sharing information, pictures and videos
- Potential members can message your group easily to find out more information
- Some platforms have member-only spaces or private options which are beneficial for internal group communication or sharing posts and photos.
- Should be updated regularly, to keep people interested and engaged
- Risk of online harassment/abuse
- Not everyone has a social media account, especially older LGBTQ+ people
Social media usage differs between generations, so you may need to set up accounts across several platforms, depending on your target audience.
Developing digital marketing skills
Knowing how to utilise the many online tools available, can be challenging. There are some helpful resources out there which may be of support to your group.
Google Digital Garage provides free courses and webinars across a range of topic areas, including how websites work, creating a long-term social media strategy, building a strong online strategy and many more.
Sport England will be launching a Digital Marketing learning platform for sport and physical activity organisations. More information will be added once this platform is launched.
Club Matters has some information and resources around promotion and using digital platforms:
When recruiting participants, think about who you are looking to engage and how you want them to respond to your promotion.
The emphasis of promotion should be on the purpose of your group, so people understand what they can expect and how it fits with their own motivations for sport and physical activity. Include clear instructions of how people can contact your club for more information.
Tag relevant organisations and people into social media posts, which can be shared onto a wider audience.
Bear in mind the demographic of users for different social media platforms.
If you have any money for advertising, you may decide to pay for a promoted post on social media.
This can extend your reach within your target audience, however you may prefer to spread the word organically first.
Work with local LGBTQ+ services and groups to promote your group.
This might be via their social media accounts, website or flyers. You might also consider attending other groups to speak directly to potential members.
It might also be worth contacting your sport’s governing body or active partnership about promoting your group through their networks.
Check what media organisations exist locally.
There may be an opportunity to promote your group on a radio station or write an article for the paper online. Reach out and explain what you are providing for LGBTQ+ people. If you do not hear back from them initially, continue to send them information of upcoming events or occasions that your group is organising. Persistence can be beneficial with the media and they will respond positively to a reliable source of information for interesting and local stories.
Share personal stories to build a connection with potential new members.
You could share stories of why people decided to get back into sport and physical activity, their impressions of the group and why they continue to participate.
Before attending a first session at your group, participants will feel a range of emotions, no matter whether they are members of other groups, or inactive people looking to get back into sport and physical activity.
People may feel excited, worried, nervous, or apprehensive. This is a big step for some people, especially if your group is aimed at newcomers to the sport or physical activity, and/or inactive people. Their first impressions of your group are hugely influential in them feeling part of the group and wanting to come back.
Contact prior to the session
Give people an opportunity to get in touch with your group before their first session. This might be via an email address or social media channels. You should aim to respond to any enquiries as quickly as possible, providing reassurance and encouragement.
On The Day
Think about how you would like the experience of turning up to the first session to be, for a new participant.
- Who will welcome new faces?
- Who should new people be introduced to?
When introducing people, use names and pronouns so that people can share how they should be referred to.
If you have any forms for the new participant, give them time to fill this in and find out any medical issues if necessary.
Check in with the new participant at the end of their first session and see how they found it.
This feedback can be really valuable for you. Invite the participant to future sessions and also let them know about any social media networks they can join to stay updated about the group.
You may want to set up a welcoming group or subcommittee to think about ways to welcome new participants, or have volunteers whose role it is to engage new members.
At this stage, you will most likely just be focussed on getting your sports or physical activity group up and running and attracting members to join.
Thoughts of how the group will look in the future might be a way off. However, some forward planning can be hugely beneficial, even in early stages of development.
Creating a Development Plan
When your group has settled down and is established, it is a good idea to think about what the future priorities will be for the next six months/ year/ 2 years. Your priorities might be increasing membership numbers, accessing funding, entering a future competition, adding extra sessions, creating player pathways and many more.
When you get to a stage where you need to plan out your group’s future, create a development plan. This plan is a helpful strategic tool to work towards short and long-term objectives. You can access further information and templates for writing a development plan here:
You can also use Sport England’s Club Improvement Tool, which is a set of questions about your group and will generate a short improvement plan as well as appropriate resources.
How can participants within your group progress? Regularly check in with participants to understand what they are looking for from your group as they become more established members. Do some want to participate recreationally? Do some want to receive more skilled coaching? Do some want to participate competitively? You may not be able to provide everything that your members are looking for, however it is important to understand their interests and ambitions for the club.
As your group grows and your members’ needs become more diverse, you will need to think about whether more volunteers and coaches are needed, as well as if you need more facility space.
As your group becomes more established, think about how you can add additional sessions which can bring in new members. For example, if your group initially targets people who are currently active, can you create a beginner’s session which targets inactive people? If your group participates in competitions, can you launch a recreational session?
When considering building on your existing activities, go through a similar process to identify whether there is interest, the facilities you will use, coach/session leads, promotion etc. There is not a specific time frame in which you should be growing new activity; it is up to you, your group’s aims and purpose, and capacity for expanding.
- How often will your group’s sessions run?
- How will you promote the group?
- How will you attract new participants?
- How big do you want the club to be?