Money Smart Athlete Blog

Organized Philanthropy in Sports

By Constantinos Massonos, Contributor

The power of sports in implementing positive change is recognized at a global level and not only from organizations focused on sports.  The United Nations, one of the world’s largest organizations, has introduced the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace back in 2001, to help coordinate all their charitable efforts that create positive change using sports.

The amazing growth of organized professional sports and the sports industry in general, has transformed athletes into powerful social icons, who have considerable influence in our society and act as role models for young people who dream of following their idols’ footsteps.  Beyond athletes, there are also clubs, leagues and national and international sports associations which understand that they can utilize their increasing influence to create positive social development, change lives and provide hope to those who are facing adversity.

Organized philanthropy has been growing rapidly during the past decade and a number of organizations have been set up to harness the power of sports, in various philanthropic endeavors.  Below, we list just a few examples of successful organized charity through sports.

In America, athletes of great caliber, such as Muhammad Ali, Andre Agassi and Tony Hawk, have teamed up to launch Athletes for Hope, a charity that now numbers more than 4000 athletes-members. The organization aims to educate, inspire, and empower the athletes to channel their energy for a common goal: to make a difference in the world through sports philanthropy.

The three biggest leagues in the US have created their own initiatives through which they give back to their communities. The NFL, through the “NFL Foundation”, has committed more than $350 million to charitable and philanthropic causes, while the NBA through the “NBA Cares” and the MLB through the “MLB Community” try to address important social issues in the US and abroad.

Lebron James is not only an NBA superstar, but also a generous philanthropist through the “Lebron James Family Foundation”. From paying for 1,000 kids to attend college to starting “Wheels for Education,” a program that provides school supplies, access to computers and even bicycles to low-income kids, the Lebron James Family Foundation contributes to the education of underprivileged youngsters.

The Inter American Development Bank in South America has reached more than 12,000 youth in Argentina, Barbados, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica and Mexico, using development programs based on sports.

The Euroleague, in Europe, has been working with its clubs on the One Team project and they use basketball to achieve real social impact in several communities across the continent.

UK based FootballAid, allows fans to experience the thrill of match day: wear their team’s official shirt in the changing rooms, walk down the tunnel to the sound of a cheering crowd and play for 90 minutes in their favorite pitch. So far, FootballAid has used the relevant proceeds to pay more than 2.2 million pounds to charities.

Dutch soccer team Feyenoord and their main partner Opel have worked together to help the Dutch Hart Foundation reach their goals of recruiting 170,000 volunteers and fundraising more than 120,000 Euros.

Right to Play, founded in 2000, is a global organization that aims to teach children in need through educational games. Right to Play trains community leaders as coaches to deliver its programs in 18 countries affected by war, poverty, and disease in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and North America.

Common Goal is another charitable global initiative that encourages professional football players to pledge 1% of their earnings to a central fund which is allocated to charitable causes in various parts of the world.

The above are just a few examples of how the power of sports is interconnected with philanthropy along with efforts to change the world in a positive way.  If you are an athlete, sports club or organization and want to give back to the community you can contact us at [email protected] and we will be happy to discuss available options.