For years now, the Philadelphia Eagles have been ahead of the curve when it comes to community impact. The Eagles Care team has taken a thoughtful, deliberate approach, focusing their efforts on capacity building for local non-profits, in addition to traditional community engagement strategies. Rather than running one-off events or cutting checks to organizations, the Eagles partner with select non-profits for an entire season to equip them with the tools and resources they need to be more efficient and impactful through the work they are already doing. The Eagles' newest initiative - the Eagles Autism Challenge - is no different.
Not only is the team raising money for innovative research, but they are also playing a role in deciding where and how the funds are utilized in the field of autism. Together with leading doctors, scientists, and organizations, the Eagles are showing professional teams how to move the needle in a major way. Launched last year, the Eagles' Autism Challenge raised $2.5 million in just one event and granted money to several local institutions. This year, the team has opened the grantee pool to any research institution in the city and will lean on the knowledge of nine autism experts to grant out $3.5 million.
Why We Like It
The Eagles’ focus on capacity building has set the team apart in the sports philanthropy space. Their intentionality, patience, and investment into Philadelphia has and continues to have a ripple effect. The team is leveraging their influence and resource to make non-profits better; a shining example of how to truly use sports for impact. Through the Eagles Autism Challenge specifically, the team has done several things really well: 1) invested in a cause close to the owner’s heart - Jeffrey Lurie’s brother is on the spectrum 2) called in professionals to assess the grant applications 3) mobilized their fanbase to raise big money in very little time. The Eagles do not believe in community relations for the sake of their brand; the team is committed to long-term, sustainable programming, and other professional teams should take note.
Philanthropy Playmakers is a sports philanthropy consulting firm that advises non-profits, athletes and foundations. Our core competencies include fundraising strategy, strategic planning, marketing, and communications at the intersection of sports and philanthropy. To learn more, contact us.