As an inclusive community club, Luton Town & Indians Cricket Club (LTICC) encourages participation from all ages, abilities and backgrounds. When the pandemic left them in a precarious financial position, the crowd and Sport England were there to help. 

Run entirely by volunteers, Luton Town & Indians Cricket Club is the social hub of the Luton community. Their warm, welcoming, and inclusive environment, along with their commitment to minimise financial barriers, attracts people from all walks of life and financial backgrounds. 

Their facilities are used by a wide range of other voluntary and social groups, including hockey, bowls and bridge clubs, as well as for parties and gatherings. 

With almost all of their revenue generated through matches, the bar, and fundraising events, the pandemic hit them hard. Their income dropped dramatically, leaving them with a major hole in their finances. Their incredible team of volunteers came together to reduce costs and apply for grants, but their forecasting still showed a loss of more than £20,000 in 2021 without significant fundraising. 

They identified three main areas of focus at their club where improvements were needed. This was the development of their Junior Cricket, Girls and Ladies Cricket, and Disability Cricket, which involved buying new equipment and employing additional coaches. 

To help them achieve their goals they set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise £20,000! The LTICC pulled together an array of fantastic rewards, from a bundle box of scrunchies to a one-to-one football coaching session, meaning that their campaign appealed to everyone in the community.

Bhoja Karavadra, the Chairman of Luton Town & Indians Cricket Club, told us, “As a cricket club looking for funding, we were introduced to the idea of crowdfunding through Cricket East. Then we heard about the extra injection of funding from Sport England which made the idea of crowdfunding even more attractive to us. Going through the COVID-19 pandemic meant that our club was shut for long periods of time and our main sources of income dried up.” 

After 56 days, their crowd of 147 supporters came together to raise £21,155 and an estimated £2,015 in Gift Aid. This included a boost of £10,000 from Sport England’s Return to Play: Active Together fund! This fund is helping the sport and physical activity sector through the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

“We were pleasantly surprised by how much we managed to raise! We reached out to the local community in Luton, most of which are people who aren’t part of our cricket club or even connected with cricket, so it was amazing that they all helped us out and chipped in. It was great because it gave our club wider exposure in the community and let people know that there was a cricket club in Luton. We also put our crowdfunding video on YouTube which meant that a lot of people got to see it.

“The other added benefit of crowdfunding was that we went out to the community, especially to businesses, looking for rewards which meant the campaign didn’t just spread awareness, it also allowed us to build relationships with people in the area.”

When asked about the +Extra funding from Sport England, he said, “It made an amazing difference to our plans. If the Sport England funding wasn’t available then we would have only raised £10,000 which wouldn’t have been enough for what we wanted to do. Without it, we would have had to put our plans on hold for two or three years. It was 100% an amazing cash injection for our club.”

He continued, “We started using the funding and completing our plans last year, so we’re almost a year into doing the things that we wanted to do in all three areas. It’s going excellently! We wanted to buy equipment and we’ve done that. We wanted to employ specialist coaches for our ladies teams and we’ve done that. Crowdfunding has made an amazing difference to our plans.”

After such a positive and successful first experience of crowdfunding, we asked Bhoja and the team if they had any top tips for others out there thinking about crowdfunding! 

He said, “We had help from the Crowdfunder team and from Team Beds & Luton. They advised us that we should do a video and write our own story. All in all, we had a lot of great advice in setting up our project so use the resources Crowdfunder has available. We also ran a media campaign and spoke to local radio stations which enabled us to build links and relationships with so many different people and businesses in the area. This is a massive plus for us going forward. So we would recommend reaching out to people and letting them know what you’re doing for exposure.” 

Feeling inspired? Find out if you could be eligible to unlock extra funding for your sports club from Sport England’s Active Together fund!