Industry News, Philanthropy, Tips and Advice

The Value of Corporate Social Responsibility in Sports

Stats and research provided in partnership with ZeroCater.

Plenty of people give back for all sorts of reasons during the year. Lots of giving is concentrated at the holiday time when people’s needs become much more amplified but people give back throughout the year, too, because frankly the need is always there—it doesn’t matter when.

That’s what’s led many businesses to figure out how to give back as a team, and it’s also what’s led many corporate leaders to discover what the benefits are of giving back for their company and employees. There are obvious reasons why giving back is so important—it does good and helps to build teamwork. But it also helps people reduce their stress and increase their happiness. Why should you consider giving back as a team for the benefits it offers? ZeroCater created an informative graphic to explain it.

We took a closer look at each part of the graphic and how it can apply to sports philanthropy.

Giving by the Numbers

In 2016, Americans donated $389.05 billion while corporations donated $18.55 billion. Yes, you read that right- the majority of charitable contributions came from individuals. It’s great to think about getting big corporate partners on board to support a program or initiative- it can raise valuable awareness and resources. But more important is what that awareness brings: the opportunity to build up a donor base and bring in individuals to contribute to your cause.

There are 1,521,052 registered charitable organizations in the US. That’s an enormous number of charities to consider when giving your time or resources. If you are a corporate brand, athlete or sports team/league, this number should make you think. In the already extremely crowded nonprofit world, does it make sense to create your own?

This should be a conversation with the stakeholders in your brand. Is your cause one that is specifically under supported by charitable organizations? Do you have the resources, time and commitment to run a nonprofit? Keep in mind that a successful nonprofit is run the same as a successful for-profit!

If the answer to either of these questions is no, take a look at the nonprofits that already exist to support the causes you care about. About 80% of nonprofits say they have difficulty building strong corporate partnerships, which means they are looking for brands like yours to join their mission.

Do your research on sites like Charity Navigator, but more importantly, get in contact! Talk to someone from the organization to ask them what they need and what some of the challenges have been. Go volunteer and visit the organization’s projects to get a feel for what they do in the community. You’ll get a better idea of whether the organization is the right partner for you, and if so how you may be able to help.

Giving is Good for Business

According to ZeroCater, 92% of companies say their customers expect them to be good corporate citizens. This includes sports organizations and brands. Think about your fans- they want you to speak up on issues that matter to them. Look at brands like Nike who took a stand on a political issue and got positive feedback in terms of revenue despite the backlash. And look at Under Armour, who’s CEO was in hot water when celebrity endorsers like Steph Curry spoke out against him for joining an advisory group to President Trump. The causes you support matter to your partners, fans and consumers- they want to feel good about supporting your brand.

Beyond just those outside of your brand, social responsibility can make an impact internally as well. 79% of employees say they want to work for a socially responsible company. For corporate brands, leagues and teams, some of your most important brand ambassadors are your employees (including athletes). Imagine a 13% boost in employee productivity and revenue and a 50% decrease in employee turnover. According to Project ROI, a well-designed Corporate Social Responsibility program can do that.

Ways to Give Back

Corporations and brands can make an impact without necessarily shelling out money. Especially in the sports world, the awareness you bring can be a valuable asset to a nonprofit organization. Think about the various ways you partner with corporations that don’t involve money. Can you refer donors? Can you create marketing opportunities for them by offering them a complimentary registration at a relevant event or conference? Sometimes even supporting through social media can be a big help. All of these can apply to a partnership to a nonprofit as well.

If you have an office with a bunch of employees, engage them in philanthropy and then call them hold a food drive or clothing drive for a local organization. Offer your employees paid time off to get out in the community and do service work. Give your employees the option of using money for an office birthday party to go towards a charity or initiative that matters to them. You can also offer to match employee donations to nonprofits.

No matter how you decide to engage in social responsibility, just remember: be authentic and measure the results! It’s important to engage in a cause or initiative that fits well with your brand and mission. Anything else will seem forced and have less of an impact. And measuring success is key to ensuring the sustainability of the initiative. Plus, you can’t share the good news about the work you are doing with partners, clients, fans, etc if you don’t have proof of impact!

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