"Sport has the power to change the world." -–Nelson Mandela
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the world of sports should be viewed as far more than a "give away" program. Sports properties have unparalleled influence that extends across racial and cultural barriers. Unprecedented positive social change is possible when sports executives recognize this influence and seek to fully leverage it.
Sports properties such as Liverpool Football Club, the Tampa Bay Lightning (Hometown Heroes) and the NBA (NBA Cares) have demonstrated how creative CSR activation which goes beyond merely promoting the cause can generate significant social change while at the same time delivering a positive business impact for the sports property.
Liverpool Football Club's strategy to activate its CSR initiatives in conjunction with its primary sponsor, Standard Chartered Bank, is a great model. Yesterday the Sports Business Journal reported that Standard Chartered Bank announced a $135 million 3-year extension of its 5-year old relationship with Liverpool. The London DAILY MIRROR reported Liverpool CCO Billy Hogan said, "The "most obvious use of the partnership between the two brands has been the Seeing is Believing event," which has supported the bank's program tackling avoidable blindness around the world. The bank said that its sponsorship of the club "has also allowed it to leverage LFC’s major social media presence to educate and share awareness on HIV/AIDS," supporting the bank’s Living with HIV program.
Sports properties and sponsors desiring maximum social and business impact with their CSR initiatives should consider partnering with organizations that specialize in creating social change via sports. Partnering with organizations like Sports Forward (http://www.sportforward.org/#home) is a fantastic tactic for sports properties to generate immediate, meaningful impact. As an example, Sports Forward has over 25 years experience in creating sustainable social change using sports in over 60 countries around the globe. Additionally, involvement with organizations like Sports Forward resonates deeply with the globally minded, cause oriented millennial generation that all sports properties are seeking to win.