Opportunities for Small Businesses to Support Athletes…

How do you feel when you see someone you support win a medal at the Olympic games?

Are you a fan of any particular athlete or sports club?

In this article, I share how easy is for businesses of any size to support future athletes – in ways that help them excel more quickly, have a positive impact in communities and could help even grow your business.

Each time the Olympics (winter or summer) come around I’m captivated by the exceptional people who come together from a diverse range of countries, backgrounds, and cultures, united by their talent and love for sport.

I enjoy hearing the inspiring stories of the medal winners – their incredible dedication plus the sacrifices and tough life choices they’ve made in their quest to get to the top of their game. However, there are many athletes who leave feeling disappointed. In some cases, they miss out on medals because they didn’t perform to the best of their abilities on the day, they were competing against better athletes or were unlucky. However, there are also equally talented and diligent athletes, who were competing at a disadvantage – because they didn’t have access to the best coaching, facilities, training, equipment, and or have balance training and working to cover their living costs while honing their skills.

While listening to a conversation between Clare Balding, Chemmy Alcott and Amy Williams during coverage of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, I realised many business owners and entrepreneurs who like sport, are in a perfect position to help future athletes win more medals, more quickly. Thanks for the inspiration ladies!

From what I gather, many aspiring medal winners need money to fund the early years of their career but the dilemma they face is that good sponsorship deals don’t happen until an athlete has a good track record and is perceived as a leader in their field.  It’s wonderful that those at the top of their game get this funding. But what about the majority of athletes who are struggling to pay for what they need to win the medals before they can secure the sponsorship deals? Likewise, there are many sports clubs and community centres that lack resources to nurture talent effectively.

How could you as a business owner, leader or entrepreneur help?

Personally, I see the support of athletes and sports clubs as types of ’cause’ well worth supporting. Not just because of the individuals you could help get to the top, but also because of the potential legacy impact.

The long-term impact of athletes winning medals/cups isn’t easy to quantify but each winner inspires others – both those already in the sport and others who are inspired to it up. The benefits of participating in sport are well documented e.g. physical fitness, emotional well-being and resilience, and the development of core life skills – all important if we want to nurture happy, healthy and sustainable communities. The more medals/cups we win in any given sport, the increased likelihood that particular sport will receive funding.

In my book Give-to-Profit: How to Grow Your Business by Supporting Charities and Social Causes, I share many ways you can strategically incorporate supporting causes into your business. I also present a model for growing a successful business that is both profitable and does good in the world.

The Give-to-Profit Model

Focusing on impact and in particular how to generate positive outcomes for a cause, you and your business is a potent way to turn your business into a profitable force for good.

Ten ways to help athletes and sports teams

  1. Incorporate fundraising into your marketing or sales campaigns – this has been one of the main ways I’ve raised funds for causes as I’ve been growing my business. There are many ways to do this. I share some of these in my free ebook 52 Ways to Raise Funds for Causes Through Your Business. If you’re interested fundraising through your business make sure you comply with what is known as ’cause marketing’ legislation and best practices. This is easy enough to do as I share in my blog post Cause Marketing Legislation and Best Practices.

  2. Support athletes’ fundraising activities – follow and support what your chosen team or athlete is doing to raise funds. As well as the traditional fundraising methods we’re now also seeing many athletes and teams turning crowdfunding platforms to raise funds from supporters.

  3. Set up your own crowdfunding/fundraising campaign – if your chosen athlete or team doesn’t have a funding raising campaign to support, you could approach them and offer to raise funds on their behalf through a crowdfunding or fundraising platform such as Gofundme.com. Obviously contact them first out of courtesy and to find out how you can get funds you raise to them.

  4. Host a fundraising or event on their behalf – if you want to raise funds and grow your business at the same time, organise an event that is highly attractive to your clients, audience, and business network. This could be an in-person event or online event.

  5. Incorporate fundraising into your business internally – rather than fundraising by engaging with people and contacts outside your business you could instead incorporate fundraising activities into your business e.g. as a staff engagement activity.

  6. Make philanthropic donations – simply donate money to the athlete or team you’d like to support. Please note if you mention your intention to donate any percentage of sales or profits in your marketing this is known as ’cause marketing’ rather than philanthropy and legislation could apply as mentioned above.

  7. Sponsorship – as with large organisations, all other businesses can sponsor athletes or sports teams e.g. providing sportswear, equipment or funding for other resources.

  8. Provide access to resources – do you have other resources your favourite athlete or team could benefit from e.g. space to practice or train, accommodation they could use when traveling or people in your organisation who could help.

  9. Volunteer your services – following on from the above point, if you have any skills that could be of benefit to athletes or clubs you could volunteer your services to help them with.

  10. Give personal introductions – do you know anyone or a group of people who could be interested in sponsoring any athletes. If you do, one of the greatest gifts you can give is an introduction to people who will support the early stages of an athlete’s career.

Fundraising for athletes and sports clubs

If you’re a sports fan the easiest thing to do is to do what most people do: sit back and hope others will support the athletes you love to watch. But just imagine, how good you’d feel if you were to support someone who becomes a future medalist or winner…

As with supporting any charity or social cause, it’s worth doing your due diligence ahead of deciding who to support so your business doesn’t become associated with someone who becomes known for the wrong reasons. How you do this depends on the type of athlete or sports club you’d like to support, who they are, and what information is publicly available. Nowadays a good starting point is Google or the professional body for your chosen sport.

Obviously, if you do decide you’d like to raise funds on behalf of an athlete or club, please make sure you contact them to let them know what you’re doing. For ideas on how to raise funds for causes including athletes, check out my free ebook 52 Ways to Raise Funds for Causes Through Your Business.

Whether sport is something you participate in or is simply something you enjoy as a spectator, I hope this article has given you food for thought.

As an individual or business owner, how you could support sports athletes or sports clubs in their quest for success?

As an athlete or sports club how you could make it easier for small to medium-sized businesses to support you?

I’d love to know what you think – please do share your comments below.

P.S. If you want to learn how to grow your business by incorporating fundraising into your marketing or business, check out The 90-Day Give-to-Profit Fundraising Challenge.

Often described as one of the most authentic and inspiring souls you can meet, Alisoun is on a mission to improve the lives of a million people – by making it easy for businesses to be a profitable force for good, and through her support of causes that tackle poverty, education and social justice.

Alisoun’s keynote talks, training, mentoring, and best-selling books Give-to-Profit: How to Grow Your Business by Supporting Charities and Social Causes and Heartatude: The 9 Principles of Heart-Centered Success have favorably changed the good fortune of thousands of people worldwide. She loves doing humanitarian work, fundraising and living by the beach in Scotland.

Alisoun is also the founder of an online business training academy and has written the following free resources:

  • Ebook: 101 Ways To Attract Great Clients, With Heart, Integrity & Social Impact (click here)
  • Ebook: 52 Ways to Raise Funds for Charities and Social Causes Through Your Business (click here)
  • Ebook: The 9 Secrets to Signing Up Clients Without Selling (click here)
  • The Online Course Creator Checklist – download here.

You can connect with Alisoun here:

  • Alisoun’s website – www.alisoun.com 
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