Welcome to this week’s TMR Sports Philanthropy Spotlight…Today we look at sports-centric philanthropies getting creative around COVID-19 pandemic efforts with insights from Sports Philanthropy Network’s Roy Kessel.
As the first big “live” sporting event since the COVID-19 crisis began, tonight’s NFL Draft is expected to garner some of the largest ratings in history. People stuck at home thirsting for live action are eager for the Draft to quench their thirst.
Handed the sports world’s undivided attention, this spotlight has created some unique opportunities for organizations to expand their fundraising efforts.
As expected, the NFL leads the way with its “Draft-A-Thon.” Featured on the live Draft broadcast across all platforms, and paying tribute to healthcare workers and first responders, the Draft-A-Thon’s goal is to raise funds to help support six national nonprofits and their respective COVID-19 relief efforts:
- American Red Cross and its work to maintain a sufficient supply of blood while continuing to deliver its lifesaving mission due to the Coronavirus Outbreak.
- CDC Foundation’s All of Us: Combat Coronavirus Campaign to support vulnerable communities and bolster laboratory capacity, clinical research, data and technology infrastructure and local response efforts.
- Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund to help member food banks meet the increased need due to school closures, job disruptions, and current health risks.
- Meals on Wheels COVID-19 Response Fund to ensure local communities have what they need to feed the at-risk elderly population.
- Salvation Army and its network form a safety net for individuals and families living in poverty or experiencing homelessness by providing food, shelter, hygiene kits, as well as support to first responders.
- United Way’s COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund to help those in need access food and shelter, childcare for first responders and more while bolstering 211, United Way’s go-to information resource in times of crisis.
The NFL has already done a stellar job spotlighting the work of its teams and players as they come together in support of COVID-19 relief.
Many NFL teams, owners and players are undertaking their own efforts with Philadelphia Eagles‘ GM Howie Roseman spearheading an effort to bring NFL GMs together to raise money. Roseman organized his peers–and many NFL head coaches–to donate $1,000 per draft pick to the NFL’s fundraiser. With more than 250 picks, Roseman is targeting a minimum of $500,000 from this initiative based on $2,000 for each team’s pick ($1,000 from the GM and $1,000 from the coach).
In addition to Roseman’s spark, other recent initiatives include:
- Chicago Bears’ Khalil Mack donates $350K to relief efforts in Chicago
- Players Coalition and NFL Commit Over $3 million to communities of color for COVID-19 Relief
- Sean Payton donates $100K to New Orleans food bank
- Jeffrey Lurie and Eagles donate $1 million to COVID-19 relief in Philadelphia
- Glazer Family Continues to Provide COVID-19 Relief to Feeding America Tampa Bay
And how can we not recognize NFL partner Anheuser-Busch and yes, even everyone’s favorite commissioner-to-hate, Roger Goodell, for having a sense of humor? Bud Light Seltzer‘s fancentric campaign will donate $1 to the Draft-A-Thon for every Tweet using the hashtag #BooTheCommish.
— Bud Light (@budlight) April 23, 2020
Besides the large-scale initiatives of the NFL and large national organizations, smaller foundations, individual teams and social entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the spotlight to support their initiatives.
Rivals Media, founded by John Cioe, has launched interactive draft-related games which allow fans, donors and supporters to play along in real time or set their picks in advance. Five teams then created their own team-branded version of the Rivals Media game, giving fans the chance to win prizes such as season tickets or special team-related experiences:
- Miami Dolphins Foundation
- Seattle Seahawks Charitable Foundation
- Denver Broncos Charities
- Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation
- Carolina Panthers
“We are excited to launch this free sports challenge to make the NFL Draft a more engaging experience,” said Cioe. “With the sports world on hiatus due to COVID-19, we know fans are eager to find a way to engage with the Draft and contribute to the philanthropic efforts of their favorite organization. In addition to the team programs, we are proud to launch the Sports Philanthropy Draft Challenge in conjunction with the Sports Philanthropy Network to help community-based sports organizations impacted by coronavirus. We are proud that our technology and platform is available to be used by these organizations to overcome the devastating impact of coronavirus.”
The Sports Philanthropy Draft Challenge will feature a “Celebrity Leader Board” to encourage athletes and celebrities to use their social media platforms to inspire their friends and rivals to compete against each other in order to raise more funds for the impacted organizations.
While the NFL Draft dominates coverage this week, it is far from the only game in town.
The All-In-Challenge, launched by Fanatics and its founder Michael Rubin, has gathered some of the largest names in sports to create over 170 auctions and sweepstakes. Together with ESPN employing its massive reach to provide a lot of high-profile publicity, all funds raised from the All-In Challenge are going exclusively to provide food to kids, the elderly and frontline heroes. At press time, the initiative had already raised over $15 million and shows no signs of slowing down.
- Ultimate Sports Fan Experience (Basically tickets to every major sporting event)
- Golf at Pebble Beach With Justin Timberlake and Bill Murray
- VIP Super Bowl Experience
- Play HORSE and sit courtside with Magic Johnson
- One Day Contract with the Dallas Mavericks and Mark Cuban
- The Ultimate ESPN Experience
- Dinner and Golf with Payton Manning
- Play 18 holes with Greg Norman
- Play a 7-inning softball game at Dodger Stadium
- Co-host on CBS with Tiki Barber
- Join Kenny Albert in the booth for an NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA game
In addition to the All-In Challenge, more noteworthy efforts this week include:
- Djokovic, Federer and Nadal trying to create a fund for lower-ranked players
- 50 MLB Players Teaming Up To Provide Over 4 Million Meals for Children
- Dodgers Foundation CEO Shares Jackie Robinson’s inspiration and legacy
- PGA of America starts relief fund with $5 million donation
As we head into warmer weather and some states elect to loosen the restrictions on outdoor activities such as golf, it will be interesting to watch whether organizations attempt to use golf outings as an opportunity to gather supporters together and raise funds. Some southern states have left their courses open and Georgia and South Carolina are now opening other parts of their states as well. Even midwestern states like Wisconsin, Indiana and Iowa have opened their courses.
Since golf outings are a popular fundraising tool during the summer and since the nature of golf allows a reasonable degree of social distancing, this is potentially one type of fundraising event that could be held, even in the midst of the crisis. Creating an opportunity to connect and engage with donors (even without a dinner or the usual post-round activities) could allow organizations to start the healing process. These types of golf events may spark creativity for those groups that incorporate virtual fundraising tools to hold auctions and raffles.
We will examine fundraising technologies and strategies in an upcoming Sports Philanthropy Spotlight.