It can be far easier to volunteer to introduce mountain biking into an existing community or local club than to start a completely new club. For more info on how to integrate mountain biking into an existing club click here
Or if you are interested in working with children or young people a school can be an excellent environment to start a club. For more information on how to start a school club click here
Potential supporters and funders will be more enthusiastic if they can see that you will be meeting a clear need and are not duplicating the work of others.
We would highly recommend you contact your local Scottish Cycling Regional Development Officer (RDO) to get their advice on the need for a club in your area. The RDO will be a key person to support the setting up and growth of your club.Back
Everyone involved within the club should have the time, skills, motivation and ideas necessary to get a mountain biking club up and running. If you clubs are left to run by only one individual they are unlikely to be sustained.
It is also important everyone involved can work together as a team - if a club starts out with tension, poor communication or even open conflict at its core then it is unlikely to succeed long term.Back
It is worth mapping out what current mountain biking is happening in your local area. The best person to contact for this information is the Scottish Cycling Regional Development Officer.
They will be able to let you know if there are any mountain biking clubs being offered in your local area and where your club would sit within the local mountain biking landscape.
By deciding what level of rider you will be delivering to is one of the first decisions you should make. This will help you market your club to a specific audience, ensure your sessions are easier to manage (it can be hard work managing novices & experts within the same group) and also work in partnership with other local organisations. By working in partnership you will not only be ensuring your club is more successful but you will also be giving your members options to find the mountain biking experience which suits them best.Back
Use a business planning template to break these considerations down into Specific, Measurable, Agreed - especially who is responsible, Realistic & Timely (SMART) targets. You may wish to use our planning template to achieve this?
Business Planning Template – Download from Orange tab above.
Where will you be delivering your sessions? It is worth noting that local parks and school playing fields are often excellent places to deliver the participants first experiences of mountain biking.
This has the additional benefit of children and young people changing their outlook on what they can access near to where they live and encouraging informal participation.
You may wish to develop your own mountain biking facilities within your area. If you are considering this please see the section developing trails.
Bikes & Helmets - There are three options to consider when starting a club:
Members bring their own bikes to the club. This has the added benefit of your members cycling to the club.
However often new participants have bikes that are not maintained to a high quality. It may be a good idea to work in partnership with a local bike shop and get your potential members to bring their bikes to your club (or the local shop) for a 'service' before starting your club.
Your local bike shop may be willing to help to increase their profile in the local community. They may also be able to offer deals for members who have serious problems with their bikes. It is important that all bikes ridden at the club are in good working order and we would recommend you ask all members (especially children and young people) to wear helmets.
Obtain funding for bikes to be stored near your site.
This can be an attractive option as you can guarantee the quality of the bikes and ensure that the club is inclusive to everybody within the local area.
A major barrier to having bikes at your club is the ongoing maintenance of the bikes. However this could also be an opportunity to develop the skills of your members and offer some practical life long skills by teaching your members how to maintain the bikes themselves. It is also advised to build a maintenance plan into your funding bid or to buy a quantity of spare parts and tools from your local bike store. Other considerations should be to ensure bikes can be cleaned at or near the school.
It might be worth some of your volunteers to go undertake a bike maintenance course. This should also be part of your funding application.
There are a number of portable bike washes on the market that operate without needing to be near a power supply or outdoor water tap.
Working in partnership with your local bike shop, facility provider or outdoor store you could organise a hire deal
Although this is not an ideal long term solution it is an excellent option if you wish to pilot a mountain biking club without committing to buying and maintaining a fleet of bikes. Funding may be available for this option.Back
You may see the purpose of your club as a way of leading riders into the outdoors or you may wish to bring a competitive element into the club.
Competition may just be team games to demonstrate improved skills or you may wish to aim towards regional or national competitions.
You may decide that your club will combine elements of both leading and instruction or coaching in which case you should endeavour to have both a leader and a coach within your club. To see the different courses on offer see the Coaching and Leadership section of this website
Most courses to deliver mountain biking contain a cost. It is likely that funding will be available for deliverers.
It is recommended for all deliverers to have a relevant first aid qualification.
Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland, working in partnership with Mountain Biking UK (MBUK), has developed a series of adaptable posters which can be adapted to suit your own club. By using these high quality materials, we believe, it should increase the appeal of mountain biking to a wide section of the population. Please go to the 'Marketing Mountain Biking' page on this website to download the posters.
Please feel free to download any of the images on the grey scroller bar to use in your own marketing and promotional material. For more advice again go to our 'Marketing Mountain Biking' section.Back
Once you have worked through those considerations it is good practice to:
Prepare a budget - showing how the plan will be paid for and how much money will be available for each activity within it.
Undertake a risk assessment - list potential problems that might derail the organisation and, for each, how likely it is and what the impact would be. Take steps to minimise the risks or the impact of them.
Communications Plan - produce a plan which details what, where, how and whom you will communicate with. This may seem like a simple exercise but it is often overlooked and has been the potential pitfall of many community based organisations.
Samples of each of these are available from the 'orange tabs' on the banner at top of the page.
The complexity of the plan will depend on the ambitions of the club. One that aims to employ coaches and handle significant amounts of money, for example is likely to need a more detailed and rigorously tested plan than that required by a group which is happy to stay small, informal and solely volunteer run.
Tasks within the plan will need to be allocated to the steering group or to other volunteers in the short term. As the organisation matures however this allocation can change, as the next steps explain.
Once you have completed this section you have taken a massive leap forward!Back
This is a document that states in clear terms the boundaries of the organisation and the responsibility and authority for different people within it.
A constitution will usually include
- The purpose of the organisation
- What (within the law) it has the power to do.
- Who can and cannot be a member of the organisation.
- The powers and responsibilities of members.
- The powers delegated to the governing committee by the membership.
- How many people will sit on the governing committee, for how long and by what selection process?
- How the relationship between the governing committee and membership will work?
Members are people or other organisations that have a formal stake in your organisation by virtue of a shared characteristic and/or payment of a membership fee. Technically they are the organisation and will have ultimate control. To begin with, however the steering group will have to define who can become a member. For example
- Is it all members of the club? Only adults? Or young people?
- Do you invite stakeholders to be members? i.e. Local authority
It will not be feasible for all members to agree all the decisions necessary to run the organisation. They should therefore appoint a committee to whom the membership can delegate responsibility for taking care of the organisation (a role known as 'governance'). Often people who have worked on the steering group are willing to stand for election to this committee so in practice there is likely to be continuity between the two bodies.
In the short term the steering group should make broad decisions, which should then be put to the membership at a formal meeting.
There is a model constitution avaiable on the 'orange tab' on the banner above to download. But don't just lift these - make sure you set up the type of organisation that is fit for your purpose. Your Scottish Cycling Regional Development Officer and/or your Local CVS Office will be able to help you with this process.
There is more information available on the roles within governing committees here:
- SCVO governance website - www.scvo.org.uk/governance
- SCVO governance courses & further information (available via SCVO website: www.scvo.org.uk
Once a membership based voluntary organisation has developed a constitution it becomes what is known as a voluntary association. It will be able to do certain things, for example set up a bank account. Many clubs are happy to stay at this level.
Two other options can also be considered
- Becoming incorporated - for example as a company
- Becoming a charity
You don't need to make decisions about these at the beginning. At any point you can become incorporated or become a charity as long as you meet the criteria.
- 'Incorporation' means giving the organisation a legal personality in its own right. The advantage of this is that it offers increased protection to people sitting on the governing committee, for example in the event of a legal action the organisation would be the target rather than individuals within it. The flipside is that committee members will need to take their responsibilities very seriously as these will now be legally binding. There are also obligatory reporting duties, for example for companies to their official regulatory body - Companies House.
In deciding whether to incorporate or not look at the risk factors. Clubs which intend to employ coaches and /or handle significant amounts of money and/or work with a challenging client group would be well advised to give this serious consideration since these involve risks.
This is often called a social enterprise. For more information and help in setting up a social enterprise visit Firstport (An organisation who are responsible for helping groups set up as social enterprises)
Charity status is a badge that a club can wear that brings with it some benefits. Both incorporated and unincorporated voluntary organisations can apply for charity status. To acquire it they need to prove (in simplified terms) that they are of public benefit, independent of government, non party political and not for private gain. The advantages include some tax breaks, wider fundraising opportunities and potentially greater public trust. The flipside is similar to incorporation, with governing body members legally bound to act responsibly (not necessarily a bad thing!) and obliged to report to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.
More information about different types of legal structure can be found on SCVO website.
A risk assessment is a pre-requirement of any activity. It balances the potential hazards that may be encountered and the level of risks which these hazards provide.
We have a sample risk assessment available to download from the 'orange tabs' on the banner.
The simplest solution to insurance problems is to affiliate your club with a governing body or membership organisation.
Working with Children, Young People or Vulnerable Groups
By law any club that wishes to work with children, young people or vulnerable groups has to adhere to the following procedures.Back
You have your plan in place and you are now ready to get everything set up!
If you require funding please click here for advice and lists of current funding bodies and who they are likely to fund.
How long will all this take?
Setting up a new club can take a number of months. Because you are trying to reach consensus on big decisions very often these will be held up, for example, until the required people can all make it to a meeting. It is a bit like wiring a building: lots of delicate and time consuming work behind the scenes but, do it right and the lights will go on first time. Rush it, however, and costly repair work may be needed down the line.
It is good practice to use the help available to you. Contact your Scottish Cycling Regional Development Officer, they have information on a range of issues relevant to building and sustaining a voluntary organisation. Your local council for voluntary service may also be able to offer support and guidance on a one to one level. Visit the CVS website to find your local CVS.
Where can I get further information and support?
Mountain Biking Specific
- Scottish Cycling Regional Development Officer
- CTC 'Bike Club' Officers (Glasgow & Edinburgh/Fife)
- Scottish Cycling
- Help for Clubs - http://www.helpforclubs.org.uk
- SCVO Information Service: 0800 169 0022 / firstname.lastname@example.org
- SCVO website: www.scvo.org.uk
- Local Councils for Voluntary Service: www.scvo.org.uk/cvsnetwork
- Firstport - Free business support and awards to new-start social entrepreneurs throughout Scotland - www.firstport.org.uk/
Constitutions and charitable status
SCVO Guide to Constitutions and Charitable Status
- Available in hard copy and online from : www.scvo.org.uk
OSCR - The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator
- : www.oscr.org.uk / 01382 220 446
- www.companieshouse.gov.uk / 0303 1234 500
There is more information available on the roles within governing committees here:
- SCVO governance website - www.scvo.org.uk/governance v