CSR: A vital part of sports sponsorship

Companies using Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes are
increasingly using sponsorship as a vehicle to deliver objectives for
two main reasons. First, sport can really change people’s lives.
Whether as a participant or spectator, people engage with sport in
such a manner that it can make a huge difference to their health or
their lifestyle. It doesn’t matter, if in some cases, violence has
been part of sport.

Second, sport is run at every level imaginable, from kids playing
football on the street, to major global events such as the FIFA World
Cup or the Olympic Games.

Companies seeking to develop successful CSR programmes, see sport as a
ready-made and flexible platform that can be adapted to a wide variety
of objectives. Businesses today are expected to look beyond their
bottom line and most accept they have a social responsibility to the
health and well-being of the communities in which they operate.

A Business with a strong CSR programme ensures it sits tightly
alongside their sustainable marketing policy, which focuses on how
products are sourced, manufactured, promoted and distributed.

Organisations are choosing CSR projects which counter the negative
impacts they might be having on the environment or on people’s lives.
A strong CSR strategy will prove profitable for a company over the
long term because its relationship with different stakeholders, from
customers and suppliers to employees and the media, is boosted.

Stakeholders also demand total transparency and any inappropriate
activity or evidence that a company is involved in a social project
for the wrong reasons, such as mainly to attract positive media
coverage, will attract fierce criticism.

For years, businesses have tended to spend their CSR budgets on
supporting environmental or arts-based causes such as music or other
related shows but increasingly, sport is being seen as a way to meet
social and community obligations. Sport is regarded as a much more
influential channel than the arts; reaching and engaging with more
people from across the entire social and demographic spectrum.  So as
the saying goes, your brand does better when it goes to meet people
where they are.

Worldwide, it is agreed that CSR is becoming part of a more eclectic
sponsorship mix. This is something that sports rights holders are
starting to take advantage of. While pure sports sponsorship can often
be based on hard-nosed marketing and business decisions, CSR
investment is often based more on how a business can improve the
communities in which it operates. Therefore, it is imperative that
sponsors realise how important it is that they choose a cause or sport
which has a synergy with the organisation’s mission statement and
values, as well as its products and services.

Sport is an effective CSR medium because it boasts values that any
socially-responsible business should be striving for. These include
fair play to everyone involved, including employees and suppliers,
transparency and opportunities for all to succeed, as well as good
community relations. Even children love sport a lot and they can feel
the excitement whenever a brand reaches out to them through sporting

There are many examples of how businesses around the world are using
sport more and more to fulfill their CSR obligations. Sport is adding
value to the sponsor and individual sports and at the same time
changing people’s lives on a local, national and international level.
There isn’t any doubt that sports managers are certainly realising the
mutual benefit of teaming up with brands to drive forward their CSR

Other advantages to CSR in sport is that most professional clubs have
initiatives in place to help disadvantaged people improve their
education or health.

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Probably, it is possible that CSR programmes attached to sport can’t
benefit everyone. However, the most important thing for sport
promoters is to focus on the interests of the majority; even when the
sole targets are young people in their teens.

If your organization wants to involve in CSR, here are the checklists
for success:
*       Company must ensure CSR programmes are strategic and well thought through.
*       It must be efficient if it is to have a maximum impact on the sport,
social cause and the organisation itself.
*       It must involve all stakeholders and identify how the organisation
can make improvements.