SBD/Issue 232/Sports & Society

DC Teams' Newfound Star Power Could Lead To Charitable Boost

 

The "philanthropic push" in DC "could get a big boost from the arrival of a new slate of stars and genuine excitement across the prospects" of the Redskins, Wizards, Nationals and Capitals, according to a front-page piece by Susan Kinzie of the WASHINGTON POST. The teams' "potential success could lead to more than energized fans, sold-out games and additional revenue for the franchises." It also "could mean more donors to the teams' charitable foundations, more volunteers for team-sponsored charity events, more corporate partners for charity efforts." DC charitable efforts in the past have been "dwarfed by the biggest team foundations nationally." The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation "gave away nearly $400,000 in 2008, a fraction of the more than $3 million the Red Sox Foundation donated." Meanwhile, the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation "has long been the largest among the area's sports teams," and tax records indicated that it "gave away more than $500,000 in grants in 2008." The Ravens that year donated $2.7M, but the contributions "don't reflect the other ways teams and athletes raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for local nonprofits: By using their visibility to put the word out about good causes, sending players to charity events and donating signed merchandise." Capitals and Wizards Owner Ted Leonsis "has repeatedly encouraged the Caps to use their fan following to generate donations and volunteers, and he has already told the Wizards the same thing." Leonsis: "Every business that I get involved in must pursue a double bottom line. I firmly believe that you can do well while you're doing good." Kinzie noted there are "plenty of business reasons for the increase" in charitable foundations, including "tax breaks, and a kind of positive advertising that money can't buy." Kinzie: "Philanthropy can be a great way to chip away at ugly headlines about scandals and big money in pro sports. It can have enormous marketing benefits, too" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/15).

MAN ON A MISSION: In Boston, Gary Washburn noted 76ers C Samuel Dalembert for the past seven months has "carried out a personal campaign to send aid to Haiti." Dalembert, a native of Haiti, "formed his own foundation as a means of sending aid without the red tape," and he also "donated $100,000 immediately and has spent his summer going back and forth to Haiti to oversee the rebuilding efforts." Dalembert last Thursday accepted the Manny Jackson Basketball Human Spirit Award at the Basketball HOF, and he "reminded the audience to keep Haiti in its consciousness" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/15).

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