The Essence of Sports Philanthropy


There’s been so much attention focused on the negative actions of a few athletes lately, that it seemed a good time to bring focus to those who do good, and illustrate how sports philanthropy can have impact. Additionally, it provides a great lesson to any type or size nonprofit who is interested in finding a way to increase awareness and support.

Thanks to Scott Manthorne of All Sports United, who shared this video, where Packers’ Aaron surprises Annie, the creator of Gold In September ( with me today. After having watched it, I can tell you it’s worth the 6 minute time investment!  Not only because of the inspiring work that this young girl and her NFL door-knocking buddy are doing, but because it’s an excellent example of what your nonprofit can do to raise awareness and gain support in an effort to increase your impact (and isn’t that why you’re reading this?).



What I like most about this video from a nonprofit marketing perspective:

1. Leverages celebrity creatively—and authentically

Be creative: Not every “celebrity” needs to be of the  “A-List” calibar- any organization has opportunity to collaborate with someone who is recognizable in the community. Maybe it’s a minor league ball player, or a popular school teacher, or a local author or artist. Get creative, but connect your goal authentically and creatively with how they can participate; being sure to maximize the use of their time.

In this case, they took (what looks like one) a day to knock on doors and connect with people on a personal level. The familiarity of a famous NFL Star may have helped in many cases. (But, if it were me, I’d have had no idea who he was -but probably would’ve responded more to the young girl who is my daughter’s age).


2. Connect personally —and through social media

As you know, having personal conversations are the most effective way to gain support for your cause. But it’s not realistic to think you can connect personally with the number of people whose support your cause needs. Today, social media is so often our first call to action for connecting- maybe we sometimes forget to go the personal route or put it on the back burner. So, with some advance planning, you can do both.

  •  #itsAaron -Use a hashtag to connect the event and use it when you keep everyone on top of your progress
  • Un-Selfies or Selfies- EVERYONE has a smartphone these days! Take pictures and share and post and tag to further the reach
  • Tell your story. There are a variety of ways - find the one that’s right for your organization
  • YouTube: It’s the second largest search engine in the WORLD! And it has a special program for nonprofits
  • Infographics. Visuals are big for getting attention and engaging. (in case you haven’t noticed this trend in the other examples) Infographics offer a way to convey data- without overwhelming

And, best of all, these are all techniques that you can implement.  Here’s some advice on what to plan for and some free and/or inexpensive tools to help you.


Now get out there and Rock and Roll!