Rovers have been shortlisted for the 'Coronavirus Innovation Award: Compassion' category, ahead of the 2020 Sports Business Awards ceremony, in December of this year.
The 'Compassion' category aims to celebrate the fundraising, volunteering, and acts of kindness from an organisation or individuals, during the pandemic.
Rovers worked hard throughout the height of the pandemic to ensure people in the community felt looked after and supported by their club.
Initially, when the pandemic first started to take hold, the Club created a 'Helping the Gas' guide, which focused on four key areas.
How you can help your club - With no revenue streams, we wanted to let supporters know of ways they could help the club if they were in the position to do so. This included interacting with social media, and renewing season tickets.
How you can help our suppliers - We were aware of the effect the pandemic would have not just on the club, but on the suppliers who relied on our trade throughout the season. Therefore, we reached out to suppliers and asked for ways supporters could help, this included buying pies directly from our supplier's site, or purchasing programmes to complete supporter's collections!
How you can help your community - We worked closely with our Community Trust throughout the pandemic to provide the community with as much support as possible. The unsold food from our cancelled game was donated to food banks, and alongside the Trust, we provided club minibuses to support the local community.
How you can help your friends/family - This section provided links to government advice on the pandemic and offered supporters the chance to get in contact regarding vulnerable friends/family. We then went through these responses and arranged food deliveries, or for players to ring up and check on at-risk fans who were shielding.
Additionally, to those initial points, we also reached out to the most at-risk group amongst our fanbase, those over 70-years-old. We know that Rovers provides a sense of community, and the social aspect would be dearly missed through the pandemic, but as a club, we wanted to reach out in any way we could. From this, manager, Ben Garner wrote personal letters to supporters over 70, offering the club's support in whatever way it could during the pandemic.
We also wanted to show our support for the phenomenal work the NHS has done throughout the pandemic, saving lives up and down the country, and so, the club made the decision to donate over 1000 tickets to NHS staff for use when fans can return to stadiums. Furthermore, the club chose to put a 'Thank You NHS' message on our warm-up shirts this season, while also providing supporters with the option to have the message included on their purchase of the kits. A cut of the profits from the branding would then be donated to Above and Beyond, our official 2020/21 charity.
Throughout this time, the club endeavored to communicate as much as possible with fans, making sure supporters were aware of developments off the field while the season was paused, as well as where the club stood on key issues. This included open letters from our Chairman and CEO, as well as a virtual Fans Forum, which aimed to answer any supporter queries throughout the uncertain times.
More recently, the club made the decision to grant all season ticket holders, match ticket purchasers and advertisers a refund amounting to five twenty thirds of their purchase, to match the four matches missed at the end of the season, and the additional game lost through the expulsion of Bury from the league. We offered this refund in a variety of forms, in the hope that we could provide for every supporter's preferences.
These options included a cash refund, ticketing credit for use on a 2020/21 season ticket or match day purchases, voucher for our online store, or an option to donate the refund to our academy.
On the nomination, Commercial Director, Tom Gorringe said, “This pandemic has been the greatest threat to the football club in its history, however, our attempts from the start have been to come out of it stronger than we went in and to do all we can to support everyone that needs it.
"We were delighted to work with our Community Trust to get out to all of the supporters in need within the city, as well as communicating with supporters through a variety of means to help ensure that we go through this difficult time together. In addition, we have looked to support the heroes in the NHS who have helped us all, by partnering with Above and Beyond, donating 1,000 tickets to NHS workers for when spectators return and including the ’Thank You NHS’ branding on our warm-up kits for the season.
"We continue to be humbled by the support that we have received during this time and we hope that we can all continue to work together to support those around us, maintain our community roots and help the club reach its full potential.”
The Community Trust was heavily involved in a lot of the work done throughout the pandemic, and CEO of the Trust, Adam Tutton, had this to say on the nomination, "We are delighted to have been shortlisted for Coronavirus Innovation Award for Compassion at this years Sports Business Awards.