There are several specific distinctions between Spond and Facebook/WhatsApp. Some of the most important ones are as follow:
Spond has main groups and sub groups, which create an easy solution for larger groups of people consisting of several teams. This feature makes it possible for the main group to communicate with each other, and in addition to this, each sub group may communicate amongst themselves (for example; team yellow/blue/red). Each group is also able to bring players from other groups (teams) for matches when needed.
We have created a solution for instances where both the guardians and the child may reply to an event. This solution means that a player (child) may register with their guardian, and both the child and/or the guardian may reply to events, or the child may reply alone. Everyone (the child and both guardians) will be notified if someone replies to an event, and if someone changes the answer (for example if mum changes the answer from yes to no because she knows that the family are going away at the time of the event). This feature will also make is easier for team leaders to see who will attend the event or not, as the player is only counted once in the attendee list.
You can receive payments through Spond. If a team for example needs to collect money for sports attire, or to attend a sporting event, you can set the event to paid attendance.
Spond secures an answer from everyone, as we send out 3 free SMS messages to ensure that everyone knows what the team is communicating. Those that don’t wish to download the free app may choose to respond by e-mail.
Spond makes it possible to choose which players should be invited to the different events (everyone does not always need to be invited).
Spond can automatically send out invitations for you. This can be done on for example a weekly basis, or from a “match list” that you can easily import to Spond (at web) before the sporting season. You decide how long in advance the invitations are to be sent out.
It is easier to see who will attend the event with Spond (and “maybe” is not an option).
You can easily send out a friendly reminder to those have yet not replied to the event.
Case Study: Why Banbury Hockey swapped WhatsApp for Spond
WhatsApp is a great tool for keeping in touch with mates, but it is a whole other beast when it comes to managing a large team or group. In these days of enhanced data protection and important safeguarding responsibilities, an app that offers no guarantee of oversight or traceability is a big no-no, and could even get group admins and coaches in trouble with the law, which is why clubs like Banbury Hockey are switching to dedicated team management platforms like Spond.
More and more clubs and teams are stopping the use of messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, as they make it more complex to meet legal and regulatory requirements imposed by GDPR in Europe and similar laws being introduced in many US states, such as California's CCPA. Instead, they are turning to dedicated sports team management platforms, such as Spond, which offer a more accessible and compliant tool for admins, members and parents/guardians to keep in touch.
Banbury Hockey Club is just one example of a club that now bans WhatsApp as a messaging tool for all of its teams, regardless of age or seniority. Treasurer Gary White explained: "With so many rules now applying to sports clubs, especially those with members under 18, you need the right tools to ensure that data and safeguarding guidelines are being met.
"We had teams using various platforms, including WhatsApp, and it just got complicated. For example, some teams contain both junior and senior age members. A senior member might post content in a message, maybe banter, that was not offensive per se, but could be considered inappropriate for a younger audience, and that's obviously problematic, so we needed a platform where we could set rules as appropriate and keep an eye on things.
"WhatsApp is a great messaging tool, but where oversight and accountability are required, it's simply not fit for purpose. We need to be able to monitor the conversations our members are having and, even more importantly, know that a record of all interactions is kept so that it can be reviewed in future if necessary. That's why we took the decision as a club to specifically ban the use of WhatsApp for any member communications."
Trine Falnes, Spond CEO, commented: "Banbury Hockey is not the first sports club or team to ban WhatsApp, and it won't be the last. Under GDPR in the UK, and similar laws elsewhere, consent is only valid if the giver is fully informed, it is freely given and as simple to withdraw as it is to provide. With messaging apps like WhatsApp this simply isn't possible, and I don't mean that as a criticism; it's simply not what they were designed to do.
"For sports clubs receiving a subject access request (SAR) under GDPR, it's also vital that they can access and retrieve all communication pertaining to the individual making the request. If the data is in WhatsApp, it could be deleted by the users, and that's assuming the club even has access. There is even concern over the geographic location of where data is stored.
"The challenges of using WhatsApp as an admin tool for sport are obvious, and that's before we even get on to safeguarding issues, so the basic message needs to be that, while WhatsApp can be a great direct messaging tool, these platforms are not suitable for grassroots sports clubs and teams. You need to use a dedicated communications platform, with GDPR compliance and safeguarding features built-in, which is where a company like Spond can provide a ready-made solution."
Of course, the question of traceability and oversight for grassroots sports teams and groups is nothing new, but with more and more focus on the safeguarding and wellbeing of members, particularly those under 18, alongside the growing proliferation of messaging tools in recent years, the issue has become increasingly prominent. While some clubs have looked for solutions to make messaging tools such as WhatsApp compliant, the truth is that it's easier to switch to a dedicated platform that, if used correctly, will overcome most of the potential pitfalls for you.
Most grassroots sports admins and coaches are volunteers, which means they want to spend more time on the sport they love, without wasting valuable time on GDPR compliance, safeguarding reports and other clerical tasks. With a platform like Spond, which saves 2.5 hours every week for the average coach, this can be easily achieved, along with the reassurance that all member interactions are fully compliant and transparent.