Job Profile: Sports Philanthropy

Professional sports clubs were initially started as a way to entertain fans, encourage friendly competition, and celebrate the talent of hard-working athletes. As such, the sports industry has grown to generate around $700 billion every year, which is around one percent of the total global GDP. With all of this monetary success, many multi-billion sports organizations have created a new emphasis on giving back to their local or global community. That’s precisely where the unique niche of sports philanthropy comes into the picture. Sports philanthropy is devoted to creating corporate social responsibility by using sports for the common good. Professionals who specialize in sports philanthropy typically work in marketing, sales, events management, or administration and seek to develop charitable fundraisers off the field.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for the 55,230 individuals working in philanthropy and fundraising across all industries is $56,840, which is equivalent to a mean hourly wage of $27.33. In particular, philanthropists employed in the spectator sports industry earned less than average with a mean salary of $41,770 annually or $20.08 per hour.

Beginning Salary

When first starting out in the sports philanthropy field, it’s likely that you’ll land in the bottom tenth percentile of earnings with a yearly salary around $31,190. However, it’s important to remember that sports philanthropy jobs offer great upward mobility for eventually bringing home more than $90,160 each year. In fact, many fundraising-oriented sports marketing managers receive six-figure annual salaries over $119,480.

Key Responsibilities

Working in sports philanthropy comes with the primary responsibility of creating a clear charitable mission and implementing a strategic plan for using the sports-related organization to raise funds for noble causes. On a typical day in sports philanthropy, professionals may be involved in networking with local charities, rallying athletes behind a certain non-profit, pioneering community initiatives, forming mutually beneficial partnerships with foundations, setting organizational fundraising goals, orchestrating social media profiles, and assessing the effectiveness of fundraising campaigns. Sports philanthropy has the overall goal of harnessing the enormous public prestige of professional athletics to raise awareness on the world’s most noble fundraising charities.

Necessary Skills

In order to be successful in sports philanthropy, you’ll need to have outstanding interpersonal skills for connecting athletes and sports teams with foundation managers in devising major philanthropic efforts. Having good organizational skills is a must to manage several charitable events and non-profit relationships. Leadership skills are important for sports philanthropy roles where managing a large team of fundraising specialists is required. At times, public speaking abilities are important for philanthropists to speak on behalf of their sports organization and clearly articulate the club’s fundraising mission. Sports philanthropy jobs also mandate fine-tuned writing skills for crafting press releases and grabbing the attention of fans willing to donate towards the charitable cause.

Degree and Education Requirements

Before jumping into the exciting and rewarding sports philanthropy field, it’s typically required that you have obtained at least a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited higher learning institution. Many aspiring philanthropists decide to earn a sports management degree to focus on business models applied in supporting the operations of sporting activities. It’s also possible to unlock sports philanthropy jobs with a degree in business, marketing, public relations, communications, or non-profit management. Heading to graduate school to enroll in a master’s program for sports management or marketing will also lead to more advanced career paths using your executive position to spread goodwill.

Pros and Cons of the Position

As with other similar careers in sports management, working in sports philanthropy will come with its fair share of advantages and disadvantages that you should be aware of. Firstly, there’s a tremendous amount of flexibility in this field because professionals can start philanthropic efforts in virtually any sports-related position at the amateur or professional level. Sports philanthropy gives the emotional reward of giving back to communities in need and mending faces for which the sports club has received negative media exposure. Professionals in sports philanthropy often report a very high level of job satisfaction and lower turnover rates. On the other hand, sports philanthropy isn’t one of the best-paying jobs in the sports arena and wages can be quite low for newcomers. Working in sports philanthropy usually means long irregular hours, especially when organizing fundraising events in evenings or on weekends.

Getting Started

While earning an appropriate education, it’s important for you to begin building an impressive resume with experience that blends sports management with philanthropy work. Take on internships, co-ops, and part-time positions to learn new real-world approaches that are being used for corporate social responsibility in sports. You could even organize your own charitable event for your college’s athletic teams. Starting in entry-level positions for professional sports teams, sports leagues, athlete foundations, sports-related corporations, and non-profits using sports for social good is advised. You’ll develop the skills and network connections to start a career in sports philanthropy in this manner. If necessary, become licensed through your chosen sports league to expand your career independence. You may not get your dream job immediately following school, but always keep dreaming bigger and you’ll shine brighter.

Future Outlook

Our nation’s economy is recovering from the recent downturn, which means that there will be more capital to spare for sending to charitable organizations. Non-profits are receiving less financial support than in the past, so fundraisers will be in strong demand to collect donations and carry on the charity’s mission to help others. In particular, sports philanthropy will be growing as more athletic foundations seek to give back. Using social media to cultivate sports-related fundraisers and connect with potential partners will be very popular. According to the BLS, overall employment in philanthropy is expected to thrive much faster than average by 17 percent, thus creating a total of 11,400 new jobs before 2022.

Many college graduates entering the sports industry wish to enter the limelight as a successful sports agent, general manager, or sports marketer. However, sports philanthropy is a splendid career path that pays off with numerous intrinsic rewards by connecting the booming sports arena with non-profit organizations seeking to improve our world’s well-being. Turn your hobby in community service and love for athletics into success by considering a career in sports philanthropy.

Other great resources:

The Complete Guide to Careers in Sports Management

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