It’s time. Draft your fantasy players, dig out your favorite jersey and dust off your old tailgating grill. That’s right, tonight it’s officially football season.
This evening, the Dallas Cowboys will take on the New York Giants in the NFL’s first game of the 2012 season. Millions of fans across the nation will tune in throughout the weekend to cheer for their favorite teams. This season, the NFL is hoping to capitalize on the fervor of its 182 million fans by asking them to engage with the brand beyond the gridiron.
Along with the start of regular season play, today marks the official launch of Team NFL, a new initiative sponsored by the NFL in partnership with the United Way. Team NFL was designed to aid the United Way in its goal to cut the number of high school dropouts in half by 2018. In order to meet this goal, the United Way hopes to recruit one million volunteer tutors, mentors and readers by 2014. The NFL is using its influence and resources to help turn its avid fans into volunteers and encourage students to stay in school.
One college-educated player from each of the 32 NFL teams serves as a representative to the Team NFL initiative and pledges to personally volunteer and recruit at least 3,000 other volunteers by 2014. Players involved in the initiative include notables like Nnamdi Asomugha, Philadelphia Eagles cornerback and President’s Volunteer Service Award recipient, and Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers quarterback and 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year.
My favorite thing about this initiative is that, unlike so many other cause programs, the focus is on donating time rather than money. In today’s busy world it is so much easier for brands to cut a one-time check to charity. However, Team NFL proves the league is serious about their chosen cause and feels this program is well worth their time.
There is a saying here at Crossroads painted on one of the walls in our building: “If you’re serious about making the world a better place, add something good to it.”
Brands could have a lot to gain by taking a page out of the NFL playbook. More and more companies are starting to partner with non-profits or are creating their own cause programs. By adding an element of volunteer time to its monetary donation, brands will be able to truly live its brand promise and values. Taking the time to actively participate in a chosen cause proves to consumers that a brand is serious about making a difference and adding something good to the world.