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Operating grant for sports

An operating grant is a general grant for sports clubs and for sports groups in pensioners and special associations. The operating grant is awarded on a discretionary basis based on calculated criteria.

The grant can be applied for and is awarded once a year. The 2023 application period is from 9 January to 15 February 2023. Decisions on grants are expected to be made in April 2023.

Applicants must comply with the application guide for grants for sports and the general grant allocation guidelines of the City of Helsinki when applying for, using and reporting on grants.

Operating grants may be awarded upon application to sports clubs and sports groups in pensioners and special associations which meet the following criteria: 

  1. The domicile in accordance with the association’s statutes must be Helsinki, and the activities must be open to all residents of Helsinki. The activities to be supported must mainly be directed at Helsinki residents.
  2. In accordance with the Associations Act, the association must be registered with the Finnish Patent and Registration Office. The activities of the association must be well established. The association must have been in operation for one full calendar year before the grant application date. This does not apply to associations that have changed their name, divisions of associations that have been registered as independent associations or a full or partial merger of the activities of two or more associations that have previously received grants.
  3. Sports clubs are required to organise sports activities as their main activity in accordance with their statutes, and the sports organisation representing the type of physical activity they carry out must be an actual member of a national central organisation for physical activities and sports and/or included in the scope of the state subsidies for national sports organisations by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Sports groups in pensioners and special associations are required to organise regular guided sports activities for their members living in Helsinki.
  4. The sports club must organise regular guided physical activities for the same group at least ten times during a continuous period of three months, taking into account the nature of the activity. Sports groups in pensioners and special assocations must organise regular physical activities for the same group.
  5. At least 50 of the club’s active members living in Helsinki, or alternatively at least 20 active members under the age of 20, must participate in the club’s guided regular physical activities. The regular physical activities in sports groups in pensioners and special associations must have a suitable number of participants taking into account their physical capabilities and the type of physical activity.
  6. The association must comply with the principles of good governance and the ethical principles for sports communities in all its operations. 

The operating grant is a discretionary grant based on calculated allocation criteria. The final operating grant to be awarded is determined based on the association’s calculated grant in proportion to the share of other applicants applying for the operating grant from the total appropriations available. 

The operating grant is calculated based on the following criteria: 

  1. The number of active members in Helsinki (juniors/adults). For sports clubs, the emphasis on activities for children and young people in the calculation is 80 procent and that of activities for adults is 20 prosent. In the grant application process for 2023, individuals born in 2003 or thereafter are considered children and young people. An active member is defined in the application as a club member who participates in regular guided training activities organised for the same group at least ten times during a continuous period of at least three months. The organised regular activities must be the club’s own activities. Physical activities acquired from the city as a purchased service or activities realised in cooperation with the city are not considered own activities. An individual can only be reported as an active member for calculation purposes once, even if the same individual participates in the activities of several exercise groups over the course of the calendar year. 
  2. The number of instructors and coaches who have completed at least VOK 1, i.e. the first level of the national coach and instructor training. In addition to the VOK 1 training arranged by regional sports organisations, the calculation accounts for the number of instructors and coaches who have completed a sports federation’s coach and instructor training that is at least equal in terms of level and content, or who have completed a vocational qualification in sports (at a vocational college), a bachelor’s degree in sports studies (at a university of applied sciences) or a master’s degree in sports sciences (in sports pedagogy or biology of physical activity). 
  3. Grant applications for activities in pensioners and special associations must only include the number of active members participating in the physical activity in Helsinki and specific information on their activity. The weighting applied to sports groups for pensioners and specialised organisations in the calculation is 80 procent.

In the grant calculation, a limiting percentage is used for the number of active members to prevent the operating grant from decreasing by more than 20 procent compared to 'the operating grant share' of the operating grant for 2022. If the change is due to a structural change in the club (e.g., one or several divisions having left the club), the limiting percentage will not be used.

A grant may be awarded to eligible applicants who have applied for the grant by the given deadline. The amount of the grant cannot exceed the amount applied for. If an entity receives a grant for its sports activities from other branches of the city administration, Sports Services will not provide another grant for the same activities.

Grants are meant to support activities organised by the association itself and not, for example, activities acquired by the city from the association as a purchased service or activities that are otherwise supported (e.g. by means of cooperation agreements).

The grant cannot exceed 80 procent of the eligible expenditure. ‘Eligible expenditure’ refers to costs incurred for the activities of the association. Loan repayments, interest and write-offs, depreciation, provisions or any other calculated items that are not based on actual costs are not taken into account as expenditure incurred for the activities.

The smallest operating grant to be awarded is EUR 200.

Operating grants are open for application once a year. The 2023 application period is from 9 January to 15 February 2023. Grants must be applied for within the application period specified. If an application is not submitted by the deadline, it will be regarded as late and rejected.

The grant is primarily applied for through the operating and facility usage grant application form. The same application is to be used to apply for a sports facility usage grant.

Click here for instructions on how to use the e-services to apply for a grant and how to log in.

In exceptional cases, the grant application may be submitted to the City Register Office at City of Helsinki Register Office, Culture and Leisure Division/Sports, PO Box 10, FI-00099 City of Helsinki, Finland (street address: City Hall, Pohjoisesplanadi 11–13). Applications submitted to the City Register Office must arrive by 16.00 on the last day of the application period.

The application must be accompanied with the mandatory attachments specified for each grant, a list of which is available below.

For the application to be processed, applicants must attach the mandatory documents to the application form. The mandatory attachments to an operating grant application are:

  • Action plan for the application year
  • Budget for the application year
  • Financial statements (most recently confirmed, 2021 or 2022)
  • Audit report (most recently confirmed, 2021 or 2022)
  • Annual report (most recently confirmed, 2021 or 2022)

If the applicant has not previously applied for any grants from the City of Helsinki or if any of the relevant information has changed, the following documents must also be attached to the application:

  • Rules of the association
  • A notice from the bank on the account holder or a copy of a bank statement (the applicant must have its own Finnish bank account into which the grant will be paid)
  • An extract from the Register of Associations

Decisions on operating grants are made by the Sports Sub-committee. Decisions are expected to be made in April. The grant decisions, including the instructions for appeal, will be sent for information to all applicants.

See previous decisions of the Sports Sub-committee on the page of the Sports Sub-committee.

The grant will be paid in accordance with the grant decision in one instalment into a bank account specified by the recipient. If the recipient does not have a bank account, they must open one. The City of Helsinki will only pay a grant into a bank account in the name of the recipient.

A prerequisite for the granting and payment of the grant is that there have been no discrepancies regarding any grants awarded by the city to the recipient in previous years. The city has the right to suspend the payment of a grant until the matter has been resolved if there is reason to suspect that the prerequisites for the recovery of a grant specified in Section 10 of the general grant criteria of the City of Helsinki are met.

The city has the right to set off the grant in whole or in part against a recoverable claim from the recipient.

A grant awarded to a sports club may be used to cover expenses arising from the club’s own activities. A grant for an activity group for a pensioners or a special association is a targeted grant that must be used to cover the association’s expenses resulting from its sports activities.

The grant must be used for the association’s non-profit activities. The grant must be used during the year in which it was awarded, unless otherwise specified in the decision.

The grant cannot be used for fundraising or for business and investment expenditures, or to increase the association’s financial assets or any other long-term investments. The grant cannot be forwarded to other associations or distributed as individual grants to members. The funds must be used for the operations of the association in general.

The recipient must notify the City of Helsinki without delay of any significant change affecting the use of the grant.

The use of the operating grant will be reported in connection with the application for the following year’s operating grant. The application form includes a separate section for this, and the mandatory attachments submitted with the application form are a part of reporting the last year's grant as well.

If the applicant has received an operating grant in 2022 but is not applying for a grant in 2023, the applicant must submit a separate report on the use of the 2022 grant to The report must be submitted by 31 December 2023. The report must indicate the use and allocation of the grant. Furthermore, approved financial statements, an annual report and an audit report for 2022 must be attached to the email.

Instructions on completing the application form 2023 (pdf, in Finnish)

Read more about the other documents governing the award, use and reporting of grants for sports on the Guidance and support page.

The contact details of personnel providing personalised guidance on sports grants are available on the Contact details page.

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