Sports Associations Using Fundraising Events to their Advantages

Sports Associations

In a world that is filled with so much hate and unrest it’s tempting to look at seemingly philanthropic fundraisers from sporting associations as altruistic and purely munificent. Unfortunately however that is not the way of the world; large organisations never do anything for reasons completely absent of self-interest.

Whether that be an aviation company donating to a woodland replanting scheme as a means of greenwashing or a sports organisation running a fundraiser that features constant advertising for the latest Belmont stakes betting and details of streaming packages.

That’s not an overly cynical analysis of the world, it’s just a factual observation of the yin and yang of our modern lives. The bonus of course is that, in a bid to enhance their reputations, organisations raise money for charities.

In this article we look at a range of fundraising events from sporting organisations that were mutually beneficial to both the organisations and the charities they sponsored, read on to find out what they were…

FIFA Foundation Community Programme

If you haven’t read the excellent Red Card by Ken Bensinger documenting the years of corruption at football’s governing body FIFA then we’d highly recommend picking up a copy. In the years following the publication of that book FIFA has been desperately attempting to rebrand itself as an organisation free of corruption and bribery.

Whilst decisions like awarding the 2034 World Cup to Saudi Arabia will no doubt damage that rebranding objective, other initiatives like the FIFA Foundation Community Programme are a way of the organisation laundering its reputation.

Cynical and misguided as this approach may be, it does have long-lasting benefits for a hundreds of thousands of underprivileged children around the globe. Sponsoring a variety of initiatives, the programme’s aims are to promote good health and well-being, increase the quality of education, reduce poverty and reduce inequality.

As odious and repugnant an organisation as it is, FIFA’s eagerness to repaint its public image has had a direct benefit on a huge amount of people.

(Red Card is a book any football fan should read.)

Soccer Aid

In 2006 Robbie Williams and Jonathan Wilkes initiated Soccer Aid, a charitable exhibition style football match between an England XI and a Rest of the World XI as a fundraiser for UNICEF. The first event was held at Old Trafford in front of a crowd of 71, 690.

Since then, the event has gone from being held every two years to annually and has raised over £38 million for UNICEF UK. The entire event averages an audience of 4.5 million live viewers making it a huge event for broadcasters and advertisers.

In addition to this Soccer Aid is a massive marketing opportunity to the various celebrities that are picked to play for both sides. In this way it’s the perfect example of a large scale sporting fundraiser that is mutually beneficial to both performers, broadcasters and the charity itself.

What’s more is that it has none of the moral quandaries of the previous example from FIFA.


(Highlights from the most recent Soccer Aid game in 2023)

The NFL Foundation

The NFL’s commitment to charitable organisations and fundraisers is commendable and its programme The NFL Foundation is probably the most noteworthy, far-reaching and impactful sporting charity foundation on the planet.

Not only does it focus on improving the lives of marginalised communities here in the United States and elsewhere, but through supporting various social justice campaigns, it’s also at the heart of trying to create a fairer and more equal society for future generations.

The foundation does however do certain things for its own benefit as well, some of which include fundraising initiatives aimed at improving youth football infrastructure in the United States. Which, it goes without saying, is of great benefit to the long-term success of the league and the sport in general in the USA.

In Summary

Cynicism aside, we all know that things are never truly done for altruistic reasons. On a personal level when we donate to charity there is a payoff, whether that be recognition from others or just the general feeling of well-being that we get from doing it.

It’s the same with sporting organisations when they arrange high profile fundraisers, whether those aims be underhanded and cynical like FIFA’s or more altruistic and well-meaning like Soccer Aid and the NFL Foundation.

The end goal is still the same though, charity benefits and ultimately that is a good thing.

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