By Kirk Wakefield

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 24: NFL superstar Vernon Davis (L), through a partnership between the Vernon Davis Foundation and RASA Restaurant, delivers free meals to frontline healthcare workers battling the Coronavirus pandemic at the George Washington University Hospital on April 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

The move by the Minnesota Timberwolves to find a patch sponsor that is “an agent of change for social advancement” is bound to be the first of many teams aligning with socially and culturally aware brands. The good news is we now live in a time where this makes good moral and financial sense.

Why? Because Americans value generous, purpose-driven brands.

Generosity characterizes America. The U.S. is the most generous country in the world. In times of crisis we come together to give. Our giving nature translates into fan expectations that leagues and media with money will donate to Covid-Relief initiatives. In turn, fans report support for leagues and brands that respond positively during the crisis. Consumers, particularly Gen Y & Z, are four to six times more likely to trust, buy, champion and recommend brands that have a strong purpose. The question is, who’s keeping score?

Kristen Fulmer, founder of Recipric, suggests teams and leagues can measure the mutual benefit of mission-driven metrics that parallel traditional ROI measurement. Fulmer suggests teams can “redefine home field advantage” using new elements that define fans, athletes, team, owners, and the community in a positive light. The process begins by cataloging, collecting and calculating the generosity quotient (GQ) of teams, owners, individual athletes and sponsoring brands. The relative return on generosity (ROG) measures the impact in two ways.

In principle, organizations with clear corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability objectives wish to produce a change in the perceptions and consumption behaviors that literally change the world. NRG sponsors the Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles in part to influence fans to conserve energy, reduce waste and recycle. Are fans more likely to take these actions because of the partnership activation? The first scorecard would quantify the change in fans’ beliefs and behavior in accordance with the CSR and sustainability goals of the sponsor and the organization. These fans should, in turn, be more loyal to both the sponsor and team.

The second set of metrics relate to changes in the organization’s positioning in the minds of fans as a consequence of the collective assets deployed to reach CSR/sustainability goals. In the context of COVID-relief, the “assets” observable by fans include:

  1. Financial Contributions: Directly to community organizations or indirectly through funds (e.g., NFL DraftathonNHL players donating to auctions, etc.) by organization (league or team) or athlete.
  2. Facility Repurposing: For direct relief (testing site, blood drives, staging areas, etc.) or indirect relief (e.g., ballpark food to godrive-in moviesdining on the field, etc.).
  3. Production/Equipment Repurposing: Shifting production (e.g., sports companies producing medical supplies) or sharing equipment to provide support and relief.
  4. Meals delivered/donated to at-risk families (e.g., see how NFL Players are helping)
  5. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Donated and/or delivered.
  6. Price concessions or assurances: Offering ticket price concessions, providing incentives, ticket insurance or other measures to protect consumers (e.g., like the Patriots letting season ticket holders skip a season).
  7. Benefits to essential workers: Providing childcare, extended medical care, or other benefits (e.g., Atlanta teams surprise nurses during Nurse Appreciation week).

The measurable consequences for the team and its sponsors are net increases in passion, preference and purchases. In the case of the Texans and Eagles, if it wasn’t for NRG, fans of these teams wouldn’t have it so good, considering the actions and support the sponsor provides as partner of the teams.

Top 10 Pro Sports Relief Roll Call

Thanks to Recipric, we showcase the generosity of pro sports located in the markets with some of the highest confirmed COVID cases per million people. When we, as fans, see the generosity of admired others, we will continue to pay it forward in our own circles of life. The net positive impact for brands and teams can be measured, but requires an intentional calculus to determine if the efforts achieve intended purposes.











Read the original Forbes article here