We’ve all heard the saying, “to whom much is given, much is required.” Although you don’t have to be rich or famous to give back, it is often those in the spotlight who feel they have the most to give back for what they have been given. Athletes, especially those who have had more than their share of adversity and miles of obstacles to overcome, often feel the need to give back. Not only can they feel that need, but are sometimes pushed to do so by their advisors, management, and teams.
All Sports United Sports Philanthropy Initiative was created to foster the growth and development of sports philanthropy within the United States. It was created to bring together leaders in the fields of Sports & Philanthropy via the web, social media, and gatherings to make the world a better place.All Sports United’s goal is to promote and assist those employed in professional sports and dedicated to giving back. Their emphasis is to educate sports personalities and others who wish to engage in philanthropic endeavors on the how, why, and when of leaving a legacy. The most important part, begins with the process of finding the “Why”.
The first ever Sports Philanthropy Initiative Workshop was held over Super Bowl week in New York City. The half day get-together brought together experts, athletes, foundations, and other professionals to cover topics including discussions on how to give back and work with other agencies to do so. Panelists discussed public relations, brand management, social media, and many other subjects geared toward improving the efficiency of charity and working for the greater community.
When an athlete establishes a foundation or stands by a cause, it should be something that is a natural passion and joy for them to do. The way to give, should find you, rather than taking up just any old cause that someone else suggests or seems to be popular in the news. It’s not what you do, but why you do it that makes all the difference, and can be the biggest indication of which foundations fail and which continue to grow.
In order for a foundation to be successful it must be something the athlete who creates it believes in personally, and is deeply connected to, and is actively involved in running. It must be something that inspires participation because of the nurturing, and by the active participation of the person who creates it. A successful foundation cannot be created and handed off to friends or advisers to run for the purposes of publicity.
As the oldest of eight, David Nelson of the NY Jets knew his passion would most likely come from his love of children. He didn’t know how he would help them and it wasn’t until a trip to Haiti that he discovered not how, but WHY he would decide to work with kids. While in Haiti, Wilson met a four year old orphan. Initially, Wilson was the typical American, handing the child a candy bar and some bubbles to play with. But the boy refused them and outstretched his arms up toward Wilson, all the child wanted, was a hug.
At that moment, Wilson’s passion found him.
“After that I made it my mission to give these kids an opportunity to manifest the greatness inside of them. To give them the ability to be kids and have fun, play, and to have somebody who believes in you.”
Wilson and his brothers formed the i’mME foundation, which is working to build a family-style village to house and care for orphan children in Haiti.
Nelson was joined by fellow panelists David Meltzer of Sports 1 Marketing, Lisa Delpy, of George Washington University, Tara Schwartz of the NBA and WNBA and moderator Melissa Mahler, founder of Pro Player Insiders. Each came to speak on the state of sports philanthropy and how athletes can take advantage of their platform to provide a greater good for society.
Their discussion piggybacked on Wilson’s passion for what he does as the driving force for those seeking to form their own foundations. Each in their own way, guide athletes to discover what interests them and allow their passion to find them.
Tara Schwartz encourages NBA and WNBA athletes she works with to start with something they know and are comfortable with. They will start by volunteering time doing something which involves something they are very comfortable with, “we start by putting a basketball in their hand and work from there.”
The panelist all agreed that it’s most important to athletes to try different things and allow their interests to form naturally and not allow others to decide what’s important to them, for them. But that it is also important for them to seek advice from people who will help them to do it properly and in a way that will have the most impact utilizing experts in social media, brand development, and fund raising.
David Wilson is a perfect example of what the All Sports United Sports Philanthropy Initiative is all about, and ended by explaining what his favorite quote; “Live a life that outlives your life” means to him.
“I ask guys, what is your legacy? Is it football; is it as a son, husband, father? Your legacy is what you make it. When I’m gone, I hope something I’ve done on this earth has impacted some people so that what I have poured into those children will continue to be poured into others by them. Athletes have a tremendous platform with social media, endorsements and huge influence, and this is a huge opportunity to make a difference.”
The Super Bowl Workshop consisted of the panel discussions listed below:
Panel Below: The State of Sports Philanthropy - Moderator Melissa Mahler, Pro Player Insiders; Panelists: Lisa Delpy, George Washington University; David Meltzer, Sports1 Marketing; David Nelson, WR-New York Jets; Tara Schwartz, NBA
Panel Below: PR and Brand Management Benefits - Moderator Alan Pavlosky, Sixthman/All Sports United; Panelists: Bonnie Upright, Olympus Foundation Management; Madieu Williams, NFL Saftey and ASU Humantarian Finalist 2013; Bridgett Coates, Exposure BBC; Drayton Florence, CB-Carolina Panthers; Jonathan Herman, Allan Houston Legacy Foundation
Panel Below: Social Media and Online Fundraising - Moderator: Rob Vaka, Give2Get Collection; Panelists: Sergio F De Cordova, PVBLIC Foundation; Jason Rosado, GivKwik; Polly Craik, Social Ambassador; Bobby Maylock, Prizeo
Photos courtesy of Getty Images and All Sports United
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