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Sports Marketing + Charity + Brands = Community ROI

Lorianne DiSabato(This is a guest article by Cord Pereira)

“On behalf of the Atlanta Hawks, I’d like to thank our ownership group for recognizing that for every dollar we give away, we get three in return!”‘

These were the honest words of an Atlanta Hawks spokesperson during an acceptance speech when the organization received the “Pro Team Community Award” from the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame, back in the mid 90’s.  The Hawks, like all pro teams, work closely with their community charities in a multitude of ways.  After all, professional sports franchises are really quasi-public utilities that are emotionally owned by their communities, and therefore an organic platform to all kinds of community programs.

I’m not focusing on specific programs or on the community impact a sports organization has on local charities. Rather, I’m pointing out how important considering online social community inclusion is in designing winning local sports charity programs.

The evolution of the Internet since the 1990’s has fundamentally changed the way sports organizations need to view charities. Today, local charities are equipped with state-of-the-art web and mobile technologies and have moved their memberships into private and public communities, like Facebook, Twitter, etc.  At the same time, sports marketers United Way of London & Middlesexhave finally discovered the fruits of their own real-time online fan/community networks.  So, connect the dots between the two communities, and you’ve got a platform for launching new programs, entertainment and special offers.  For a sports organization working with multiple local non-profits, this represents a micro-targeting strategy to reach everyone in their community with a valued message.  But sports and charity partnerships aren’t enough.  Brands and media partners also want to hitch to programs.

Brands are increasingly insisting on measurable return on investment for their precious marketing dollars. Creative-minded sports and charity organizations can easily come up with fresh programs. They attract the emotional side of brands, by allowing brands to live through their programs in the real world and digitally. Let’s not forget that in addition to marketing dollars, brands also have their own online communities as well . . . that are ripe for various forms of program publishing.

The reward for a well-designed charity program is measurable “Community ROI” where all parties involved in a program win financially, just as the Atlanta Hawks eluded.


Cord_PereiraCord Pereira. Cord is Managing Director of BrandEntertain, a management consulting firm for sports & entertainment properties and branded entertainment. He founded and sold Diamond Sports Management, an integrated venue, franchise and event management company, whose properties included the Boise Hawks, Sioux City Explorers and Grove Hotel & Qwest Arena.

Image Lorianne DiSabato

Image by United Way of London & Middlesex

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6 Responses to Sports Marketing + Charity + Brands = Community ROI

  1. Anita Lobo February 18, 2010 at 1:17 am #

    Interesting example Cord.
    The developing/ emerging markets from India to Africa, are trying to adopt this model actively. Sport can and should play a vital role in partnering with charities/ foundations to bring about real change in and with the communities they live with.
    Anita Lobo

  2. Howard Brodwin February 21, 2010 at 7:27 pm #

    Great piece Cord – really nice to see more organizations embracing the benefits of cause marketing and CSR in the sports industry.

    Hopefully we can get to a place where these events and programs are more than news stories – they’re part of “standard operating procedure” for every sports organization out there.

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