Best in Sweden when it comes to supporting non profit associations.

Photo Mats Engfors/Fotographic

In 2020, the municipality of Boden was named the friendliest in Sweden when it came to supporting non profit associations. With the award comes pride, joy but also a responsibility

Non profit associations are a very important part of our society and account for a large part of the leisure activities in Sweden. Our associations in the municipality of Boden covers a very wide range of interests. There are associations for everything from motor and dance to a variety of sports, art, theater, fishing, bridge, shooting and scouting. The associations are ran by volunteers who together make our municipality an attractive place to want to move to and live in.

Behind the award for “friendliest municipality in Sweden when it came to supporting non profit associations” is the organization Sweden’s associations (Sveriges föreningar). The award is based on the key words independence, respect, participation in strategies and good conditions to operate. How does the municipality of Boden live up to this?

– Above all, I think a lot is about us having a dialogue and really talking to the associations. We invite them to brainstorming sessions and discussions, says Alf Wennskog, Department of Culture, Leisure and Youth.

Recurring dialogue meetings are a well-established concept that began with cultural associations several years ago and has been refined to include everyone. It raises issues that affect everyone, information is shared and relationships are built and understanding is created. During the pandemic, the dialogue has intensified further and has been met with extra support and help based on the associations’ stated needs.

The motivation for the award is as follows:

“The collaboration in Boden is characterized by regular dialogue meetings as non profit associations raises topics that drive development and creates new collaborations. This leads to Boden being an exciting municipality to operate and live in. During the pandemic, collaboration has been carried out in a new way with knowledge gathering and support packages, which enables non profit associations to operate in the long term in its beloved Boden. ”

Pandemic support for associations

A concrete example is the extra pandemic support package that the municipality of Boden has distributed to the associations this year. A total of SEK 1 million has been allocated to activities and financial assistance.

2020 was a tough year for many associations that not only lost large sales and entrance fees, but also many income-generating assignments in markets, the planned Swedish Championships week and more. A lot had to be canceled or adjusted. At the same time, the pressure on outdoor activities increased and the need for pandemic-safe activities.

– We have struggled to adapt to rules and regulations that changed regarding to different age groups through out the pandemic. We have had all the practices and even meetings outdoors in the cold to lower the risk of spreading the virus, but we still tried to keep going. It is important for everyone to keep going, but most of all for young people, says Kenth Wärja, head coach of Trångfors IF (which offers football practice for women in different age groups).

Financial support for the associations

In addition to supporting the associations financially, for example through no rent payments for practices in the municipality’s sport arenas and the fact that the associations were allowed to retain financing for canceled activities. They were also allowed to keep the financial support for events despite not being able to host the event and extra pandemic support was also introduced. The financial support package could be applied for by all types of associations and was divided into two categories. One, of approximately SEK 250,000, went to concrete investments such as new barbecue areas, snowmobile trails, ski tracks and more to meet the increased demand for outdoor activities. The second part, approximately SEK 750,000, has been distributed as purely financial support to cover financial losses.

– For us, I would say that the support from the municipality and the national sports association has been the salvation to remain at all, says Peter Backlund, chairman of Trångfors IF and one of the active pensioners who spend a very large part of their time volunteering.

He describes a loss of income in the association of about SEK 300,000 during the pandemic year 2020. It has not been possible to cover everything with grants, but the fact the muncipality let us rent the arena for free this year instead of SEK 125,000 and the new support for elite teams has weighed up the losses somewhat. They have also received help to refurbish a hockey rink.

– I lift my hat and give a big praise to the municipality of Boden which has given the associations an extremely important help this year, he says.

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