Jan 25, 2010


In November 2009, myself and 4 other students enrolled in Corporate Communications and Public Relations at Centennial College held a fundraiser at Myth Restaurant on the Danforth. The event was called Open Hearts, Open Doors and aimed at raising money for Covenant House Toronto. With the help of a great auctioneer, Andrew Gillespie, our team kept the bidders interested. The event included a live and silent auction in front of nearly one hundred people, music by DJ Hussey, free appetizers, a cash bar and more than 30 prizes ranging from $30-$500 in value.
But, how is this all related to sports?
Some of the prizes included:
- Signed and framed Andrea Bargnani Toronto Raptors jersey
- 18 holes of golf for 4 at Tam o'Shanter golf course
- Two pairs of Maple Leafs tickets
- Golf lesson over 9 holes with CPGA golf pro at Muskoka Bay Club
- Pair of Raptors tickets
After raising over $4,000 for Covenant House, I realized there is a great opportunity for athletes in fund-raising. Here are some components:
  • Exposure -Donating your jersey will provide a new item to an (hopefully) endless collection of fan memorabilia. As an athlete and not quite established yet, auctioning off some of your personals could lead to some well needed recognition in the community. Sports fans are dying to get a piece of 'the next-big-thing'. In Toronto, Maple Leaf tickets are not as accessible as most of us would like. The donation of tickets by Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment makes the public aware of the organization. If you didn't know who they were before, the value of the prize is often enough to raise some thought about who they are. This method works for athletes and organizations, alike.
  • Reputation -Through association, an athlete's name can become 'one' with charity. I like to think of it as an opportunity to brand themselves. The continuous support of a charity, donating time and copious amount of dollars will not go unnoticed by those that look up to them as well as the forever watching media. Charity is nothing but a positive attribute for an athlete and it comes at an affordable price (thank God for tax receipts). For the athletes in the 'bad-books', often a contribution helps relieve their misbehaviour, provided it is appropriate. Plaxico Burress teaching children in New York about gun control is not the best approach. On a side note, I expect Tiger Woods to be donating a hefty sum to his charities this year; maybe a house or two if he has any left by 2011. May I suggest 'Hope for Haiti'...
  • Community Involvement - Providing charities with material keeps athletes out of trouble. For the most part, this statement is true. The more time athletes have off the field, ice, mountain, octagon, etc, the more time they have for socializing. Unfortunately this can transcend into trouble for some. Stay Busy! In a true PR standpoint, athlete's focus should be on their performance- not partying. Community work keeps them busy, gives them a positive aura and makes them choose a cause to donate their millions to. For their agents, managers, trainers and families, an athletes involvement in the community gives them faith that they are behaving themselves.
  • Image - Talk about help or hindrance! To an athlete's image, charity is a serious contributor itself! Roger Federer's squeaky clean image happened via donations and charity tournaments. No, sorry Gillette, not you. Kids look up to him, parents 'look to him', athletes want to be him and fans are all the above. Charity truly is good PR.
This information is not exactly a secret. So many if not all professional current and retired athletes support at least one charity. From Alan Shearer (more modern? Fine, Andy Roddick) to Zinidine Zidane (fine, Yao Ming) support charities. Many established athletes even go in the direction of creating their own charities and foundations. For example, both the Tiger Woods Foundation and the Wayne Gretzky Foundation provides less fortunate youth with the opportunity to experience sports. Events such as street hockey tournaments and celebrity golf tournaments are huge successes.
...so are live and silent auctions.


    1. thanks for reading - check back more often or send me links to your blog!