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Players, Teams and Philanthropy: Points to Ponder

Feb 19, 2015

EisnerAmper recently helped sponsor the 2nd Annual Super Bowl Workshop, produced by All Sports United, in Scottsdale, Arizona.  The concept of philanthropy and the world of sports is an important one and some of the key observations from the conference follow below.

Our program featured an outlook on the Arizona philanthropic community with representatives from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Fiesta Bowl, and Arizona Coyotes speaking about philanthropic activities for each organization.  The key finding was that most of these organizations allowed or encouraged athletes to participate in the decision-making processes relevant to philanthropic giving. This was a logical step insofar as athletes have many different causes and organizations; the teams are wise to try to align themselves to promote the athletes’ involvement and consideration.

The program also featured a session on using technology for fundraising. An example is an application that can be used to support an athlete’s charitable support with giving driven by  that player’s statistics. Another innovative application drives social media auctions;  another technology is designed to improve reach and get athletes into the community so fans can be more in tune with athletes’ efforts at outreach.

Some additional observations of value to others considering athlete-based charitable giving programs:

  • Recruiting board members is problematic. It is likely more productive when athletes approach foundations on their own accord and with their own pre-disposed levels of commitment.
  • Micro fundraising is now common. Raffles and online auction initiatives are popular and lead to increased visibility with very small administrative costs.
  • Communications such as news releases can be useful but not every athlete or donor wants to be included due to privacy concerns. Care is needed with all such communications programs. Social media is here to stay – become proficient. Video always attracts more attention.
  • Listen to your audience. If your charity is not getting responses, look closely at your fundamentals, and pay attention to statistics. If your outbound emails are getting bounces, it is imperative to stop sending them, clean the lists or look elsewhere.  If emails are not getting opened then look carefully at your topic lines and change or test new ones. Details matter.
  • Commitment is key – stay the course.  Accountability is important –is there someone in charge and are results measured?  Priorities are important, as are motivations and setting goals.
  • Start with desire but always listen to who you are serving. This can improve organization.
  • Look for ways to develop athlete mentorship. An example is a proposed Athlete Philanthropy Training Camp, where select civic-minded players act as group leaders in discussions on what philanthropy is, how to give back, how to make the best impact.

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Evan Waxman

Evan Waxman has advised professional athletes on tax matters relating to defining and maintaining or changing a tax home and tax domicile in order to resolve the identification of where an athlete resides for state income tax purposes.

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