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Money Smart Athlete Blog

Teaming up to tackle the greatest challenges of our time

Dec 20, 2018 | Guest Blogs

Common Goal is not a charity but a movement. We connect our members – players, coaches, fans and businesses – with a network of 127 high-impact NGOs across six continents, each of which harnesses the power of football to advance the United Nations Global Goals. Our members pledge a minimum of 1% of their football earnings with which they can support specific organisations from a region or champion a cause close to their hearts such as health, education or gender equality. Alternatively, if our members do not have a clear preference for their pledge, they can decide to put their donation into a collective fund, which we then allocate to large-scale football for good programmes involving multiple organisations. Since being founded by streetfootballworld in August 2017, Common Goal has raised more than $1 million from more than 60 professional football players, managers and other football leaders from around the globe. But why do the likes of Alex Morgan, Giorgio Chiellini and Julian Nagelsmann choose Common Goal over, or in addition to, other charitable opportunities?

Deciding to donate to a charitable cause is the easy part. Choosing which organisation to support is where most people come unstuck. Researching where your money will have the greatest impact can often prove to be a minefield. At Common Goal our members are safe in the knowledge that their support is passed on to an organisation which meets the strict streetfootballworld network criteria: organisations must be politically and religiously independent, operate a strict child protection policy and adopt transparent operational practices regarding governance, administration and accounting. As a result, streetfootballworld has established an excellent reputation in the not-for-profit world, only awarding their seal of quality to football for good organisations of the highest standard. Working hand-in-hand with streetfootballworld, Common Goal has been able to build complete trust with its members – the cornerstone of any philanthropic relationship.

In contrast to private foundations set up by athletes which often make smaller grants and tend to focus their attentions more narrowly within a certain field or geographical area, our collective fund pools the charitable contributions from Common Goal members and allows for collective giving. This means we are able to support larger-scale projects, thus amplifying the impact of every donation no matter how small. In order to realise our vision, each year we identify a number of signature projects to support from our collective fund to help them extend their reach and scale their effect. This year, for example, we teamed up with two organisations from the streetfootballworld network, WASH United and Slum Soccer, to develop, test and implement a Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) Education guide in India. The MHM guide empowers over 2,200 girls to manage their period safely, hygienically and with confidence, and thereby allows them to fully participate fully in public life, e.g. by avoiding absence from school caused by preventable infections.

Another signature project we supported this year centred around social enterprise and developing sustainable funding streams to enable those wanting to create lasting change in their communities to set up and grow football for good organisations, whilst at the same driving local employment and entrepreneurship. In adopting a clear and collaborative approach, the focus is much more on teamplay within the field rather than competition, maximising the impact of each individual’s support.

Should players, however, opt to support a cause close to their hearts, there are no lack of organisations to team up with. Germany international Serge Gnabry, whose father is from the Ivory Coast, has been joining forces with Tackle Africa to deliver sexual health education to young people on football pitches across the continent, while Shinji Kagawa has divided his pledge among three organisations in Asia: the Indochina Starfish Foundation in Cambodia and FundLife International in the Philippines, which both centre around helping disadvantaged young people gain an education, as well as Football for All in Vietnam which focuses on HIV/AIDS prevention.

16 months into the Common Goal project, our team now boasts 380 members. What started with just one player last year – Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata – has evolved into a movement which continues to grow steadily. And the more members we have, the more ambassadors there are building bridges between the world of professional sport and organisations tackling the United Nations Global Goals. Women’s World Cup winner Heather O’Reilly, for instance, was inspired by her former US Women’s National Team teammates Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, to take the pledge and reached out to join the cause. But as previously mentioned, the Common Goal team is not just open to players and coaches but anyone from the football family. Last year UEFA President Alexander Čeferin became a member after Common Goal co-founder Jürgen Griesbeck and Juan Mata visited him at the UEFA headquarters in Switzerland. In our experience, players, influencers and decision makers in football do not often need too much convincing when the movement is presented alongside other philanthropic investments, since the Common Goal model is so simple and highly effective.

We have made huge strides in the last year but the truth is, we are only just getting started. Our aim is to engage the entire football industry to take the 1% pledge and do our part in achieving the UN Global Goals – from advancing gender equality and driving jobs and growth to promoting greater peace and social justice. It is within our power to build a future in which the world’s most popular sport – football – becomes the world’s greatest catalyst for social change. But this future will only ever be achieved, if we work together as a team.


by Andrew Wisniewski 

Common Goal / Strategic Communications Lead