How This Hockey Foundation Gives Differently in Arizona

Many nonprofits don’t seriously consider sports foundations as a potential source of funding because they assume athletic-affiliated funds go to youth teams, summer camps and exercise campaigns. Although that’s often true, some professional and semi-pro teams have been expanding their grantmaking to form a more well-rounded social service approach.

One example, here, is the Arizona Coyotes Foundation, which awards grants to nonprofits that work with children, women, and servicemen in the fields of healthcare, education, cultural arts, and sports. The foundation awards grants throughout the state of Arizona, but typically limits grantmaking to within the state borders. ACF just announced a $450,000 commitment to be split among 30 nonprofits in the state.

According to Liz Kaplan, executive director of the Arizona Coyotes Foundation:

We really want to know what’s going on with them and how we can help. Here is our financial commitment to you, but we also want to do volunteer work with them. We want to get our players involved if possible. We want the public to know about them and vice versa, we want them to talk about us. We want more people to know about hockey.

Another thing that sets ACF grantmaking apart from other sports funders is its recent change in strategy. This year, ACF limited its grant capacity to just 30 nonprofitsdown from 78 in 2014. The thought behind this change is that with fewer grantees, it can make a deeper and more long-lasting impact with the organizations that align best with its goals. Recent support has gone to after-school programs, economic education for children, teen cancer programs, free arts programs for kids, and veteran care. You can learn more about the ACF-supported new grantees in The Hockey Writers.

The money for these grants is raised from galas, 50/50 raffles, auctions, and a new license plate program. In exchange for an online donation, management sends you a signed photo of one of the players. So really, hockey fans are the ones keeping these grants flowing to local causes.

To connect, reach out to Executive Director Liz Kaplan or Manager Ali Smith at 623-772-3200 or via email at Or follow this funder on Twitter and Facebook. You can check out the foundation’s 2014 annual report here as well.