Let’s get to exploring IOF finances further. It would be great to understand where the continued losses come from. First we look at the revenues, and then at the skyrocketing expenses. It makes sense to have a look at where the money is coming from first. After all, makes a huge difference if the money spent was earned on the market, or simply squeezed out from within the sport.
This task is surprisingly difficult for the post-2012 period. IOF’s commitment to highest level of transparency means that a whopping 92%(!!) of the revenues are reported on one line as “Funding/income” in the 2015 Profit and Loss Statement. One may have thought that reporting 60% of expenses on one line as “Other expenses” was interesting enough. The point is that post-2012 it is unavoidable to make estimates on the breakdown of revenues, and do a bit of a guesswork.
This is also a long topic. In this first part I look at the general picture and the various fees (taxes) charged by the IOF. In the second part I look into the attempts to bring in monies from outside orienteering: grants and ambitious commercial revenues.
The sad news is: 80% to 90% of IOF revenue comes from within the sport as various fees, in essence taxes on the love of our sport.
If you look from a distance, ignoring the details, this looks like a dynamically growing successful organisation.
Alas, details tell a different story. The expectation of dynamic growth of commercial income appears to be way overestimated when it comes to facts. It looks promising only in the budget. TV rights are balanced with similar TV expense, that makes them in essence a zero sum game. More details on that in Part 2 of this article.
The dominant source (80% to 90%) of the freely spendable revenue comes from within the sport as various fees. They come directly or indirectly from athletes, both elite and masters, and volunteer organisers who are all being taxed by the IOF for the love of our sport.
Continue reading “Where the money is coming from – Part 1”
The results of World Orienteering Day 2017 were announced today. New record, greater success. New territories involved from Antarctica to Cambodia, from Honolulu to the Isle of Man. Amazing! – Yes, everything is great until you scratch the surface. How come that out of the 35,000 more participants in 2017, 37,000 came from Turkey? Was there a decrease in the rest of the world?
No misunderstanding: All respect to the WOD team and the Regional and Youth Development Commission who organised it. Great work! Excellent promotional and teaching materials! Chapeau also to the Turkish organisers! In a country where orienteering is far from being a natural choice of sport for kids, it is absolutely great that they managed to spread the word and get so many schools interested.
The problem is that enthusiastic IOF communication is again trying to mask real questions around our sport. Like in IOF finances, everything is fine on the surface, but you do not have to go too deep to find serious questions despite the headline increase of WOD participation from 252,927 in 2016 to 288,007 in 2017.
Continue reading “WOD 2017 – beyond the headlines”
Let’s try to understand why the International Orienteering Federation has been losing substantial monies over the past 8 years. On the face of it, it should be easy: the IOF is an international sport federation, a not-for-profit organisation that publishes annual accounts. These are presented to the General Assembly every second year in the Congress binder and in the Biennial report. You can find the latest one here.
It should also help, that the fundamental values of the IOF clearly state that
“Orienteering is committed to the highest standards of governance and transparency in the conduct of its business”
Unfortunately, practice is always more complicated than declared values.
Continue reading “Highest standards of transparency”
Money matters. Even in amateur sport. Even if we prefer to focus on the sport we love.
Still, in amateur sport money is often the critical resource that limits possibilities. Ambitious ideas quickly come down to earth when one tries to find funds to cover even basic expenses. Any discussion on strategy is empty fluff when money matters are not considered together with the ideas discussed.
When we look at the finances of the IOF we see a mixed picture: solid revenue streams, runaway expenses, and dwindling reserves that may threaten bankruptcy at current trends
Continue reading “IOF Finances – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”
I have decided to write this blog because I am concerned about the future of the International Orienteering Federation, and thus the future of international orienteering. There are serious strategic, financial, organizational and moral issues faced by the IOF. I felt the internal discussions to be limited, and critical feedback to be discouraged by the leadership. I am afraid that without change the IOF may go down the path of other disgraced international sports federations.
I resigned from my position in the IOF seeing no chance to bring meaningful improvement – and often not even meaningful discussion – within the existing structures.
I had served for 6 years on the IOF Mountain Bike Orienteering Commission, the second largest orienteering discipline after Foot Orienteering, 4 of which as Chairman. I saw many things that made me concerned about the future of international orienteering as a whole, not just about individual disciplines. I tried to change things from the inside, in most cases to no avail. I finally resigned seeing no chance to bring meaningful improvement – and often not even meaningful discussion – within the existing structures. You can read my resignation letter here, the follow up discussion in the MTBO Group on facebook on, and my “exit interview” on the Portuguese Orienteering blog.
Continue reading “Why did I start to write this blog”