Frequently Asked Questions

Who developed The Principles?


The Principles were first launched in 2011, under The Voluntary Code of Good Governance title, after the Sport and Recreation Alliance brought together a cross-sector group of governance representatives to support the development of the first governance code for the sport and recreation sector. The Alliance led the development of The Principles of Good Governance for Sport and Recreation, based on the original voluntary code principles, with the support of a consultation group made up of representatives from across our membership, from each of the sports councils and from the voluntary sector. In addition, we carried out a consultation of existing good governance signatories by online survey, to gain the views of the wider sector on the changes we proposed.

The Principles of Good Governance for Sport and Recreation share the same DNA as The Voluntary Code, but has been updated to make sure it still represents the gold standard of good governance, as well as providing the practical guidance and support the sector needs to implement it.


Sport and recreation bodies that receive public funding from Sport England or UK Sport are required to comply with A Code for Sports Governance. Why do we need The Principles as well?


The Voluntary Code was launched in 2011 in response to a large body of evidence that suggested the sport and recreation sector would benefit from a single model of good governance. In leading its development, the Alliance was able to bring together the whole of the sector, not just publicly funded organisations, to create a code of good practice that reflects the diverse needs of over 300 bodies.

A significant amount of public and lottery money is now invested in sport and recreation, and it is right that these funds are protected. By setting governance standards as part of the funding agreement, Sports Councils can ensure their investment is being properly managed. However, the vast majority of organisations operating in the sport and recreation sector are not recipients of UK Sport or Sport England funding. The Principles provide an option for these organisations to implement the highest standards of good governance on their own terms, whilst also providing clear, supportive and practical guidance on how to do so.

The adaptability of the principles make it possible to apply them to any organisation, from a small local sports club to a large national governing body. The Principles can be a first step into good governance, or a stepping stone towards the gold standard.


How do we know The Principles are the best way to achieve good governance?


In 2014, the Alliance commissioned Birkbeck University to carry out an independent impact of The Voluntary Code since its launch in 2011. The findings were significant with 95% respondents stating the Code had been effective or very effective in assisting good governance. Moreover, 3 out of 4 respondents said implementing The Voluntary Code had had a positive effect on their whole organisation. Whether in receipt of public funds or not, organisations that sign up and take action have shown The Voluntary Code can make a difference to their organisations. 


Who are The Principles intended for?


Signing up to The Principles is not restricted to Alliance members. Any organisation with sport and recreation as its core purpose, or which uses sport and recreation to achieve community or social enterprise aims, will find the principles useful.

Organisations can be unincorporated associations, charities or companies of any form operating in the voluntary, private or public sectors. However they must have control of their own affairs, as set out in a constitution or similar. Otherwise many of The Principles could be inapplicable and they will be unable to take the actions necessary to implement them.


What does signing up to The Principles mean?


Signing up to The Principles is a commitment to improvement. You are aiming to implement The Principles in way that is suitable and proportionate to your organisation.  It is an aspirational sign up that is driven by your own desire to be a well-governed organisation.

Signing up to The Principles is a commitment to using them as a benchmarking tool – assessing how well you are doing against good governance practice; and a planning framework – what steps you will take to address gaps and create positive change. There is no timeline for implementation and signing-up is a statement of intent which your members, partners and stakeholders will expect to be followed by constructive action. 


What are the benefits of signing up to The Principles?


The Principles are designed with the intention of helping good organisations become high-performing organisations. Good governance is fundamental to sustainable development, because it prepares a strong foundation for decision making and inspires a culture that values integrity and a commitment to your vision and mission. Implementing The Principles will give you credibility with funders and commercial partners, as well as keeping your members happy.


What do we have to do to sign up to The Principles?


1.    Discuss The Principles at a board meeting and examine the principles in terms of what they mean for your organisation;

2.    Include The Principles as an objective in your strategic plan;

3.    Select a board member to act as governance lead for your board;

4.    Contact the Alliance to confirm your commitment to implementing The Principles.

For more information visit our sign-up page here


We don’t comply with all the actions in The Principles at the moment.  Does this mean we cannot or should not sign-up?


Signing up to The Principles is not an indication that everything in them has been achieved.  Neither is it an indication that you will put in place a plan to achieve everything that is listed in The Principles.  Governance should not be about ticking a list. Each organisation should benchmark itself against The Principles before prioritising actions for implementation.  Signing up to The Principles is a statement that your organisation is prepared to think seriously about governance and to bring The Principles to life at a pace that suits your organisation.  


What support will I get if my organisation signs up? 


The Alliance has developed a wide range of support tools to help you understand and implement The Principles. These include templates and guidance materials on the Governance Library area of the Alliance website.

Individual board members can also access tailored training developed by the Alliance. Workshops and webinars are held throughout the year which focus on individual principles and the issues organisations have highlighted as important.

The Alliance Governance Team offers expertise and advice as well as 1:1 consultancy. Contact us at or on 020 7976 3900.