Professional sports teams and philanthropy seem to go hand-in-hand these days, and it would probably be a PR nightmare to have it any other way. But from time to time, we like to take a look at the sports team philanthropy in the cities and regions we cover to see where those philanthropic dollars are flowing.
As a general rule, sports teams tend to keep their philanthropic pursuits close to home, but that’s not always the case. Today’s sports philanthropy story takes us to Boston, where the Boston Red Sox Foundation recently announced its 2016 IMPACT Award winners. Now, this foundation is the official charity of the Boston Red Sox and takes fan donations to keep its mission going.
An interesting foundation program that recently caught our attention was its IMPACT Awards, which encouraged Red Sox fans to vote on their favorite nonprofits to win one of the awards. This plays into the whole crowdfunding philanthropy movement that we just can’t stop talking about. Heck, we’ve got a whole blog devoted to the topic: Crowd Cash!
But something else interesting about this Red Sox grant program is that it didn’t include Boston, or anywhere in Massachusetts for that matter, in the opportunity at all. Instead, it took a broader geographic approach and focused on the five New England states that surround Massachusetts instead: Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Sure, it’s nice to include areas that don’t have their own professional baseball team in the mix, but we have to wonder if local groups felt a bit left when this was announced.
Fifteen charitable organizations in New England emerged as winners, with first, second, and third place winners in each of the five states. First place winners got $10,000, second place $3,000, and third place $2,000.
Here are the top winners in each state:
- Connecticut: Save a Suit
- Maine: Wounded Heroes Program of Maine
- New Hampshire: Rockingham Nutrition Meals on Wheels
- Rhode Island: Friends Way
- Vermont: Camp Ta-Kum-Ta
Common themes among the winners include veterans, basic needs, mental health, and childhood disease. Anyone who receives commercial emails from the Red Sox was eligible to vote for groups in their home state. So in addition to broadening its philanthropic scope geographically, the team is also geographically broadening its fan base with campaigns like these.
The Boston Red Sox Foundation has been around since 2002 and focuses its overall giving on the issues of health, education, recreation, and social service needs of children, families and veterans. Unlike some sports teams that maintain a tighter local focus, this one regularly extends its support all throughout New England, not just Boston. Since it was formed, it has given out over $82 million to charity, which makes it one of the largest team charities across all professional sports.