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Mixing Sports Marketing And Philanthropy In A Slow Economy

From guest blogger Brian Gainor:

With the nation currently facing an economic downturn, it's sometimes easy for philanthropy dollars and efforts to get lost in the mix. As managers begin feeling the pressure to examine each and every sector of their business, charity dollars are often trimmed because they fail to tell a complete story and deliver results that hit the bottom line.

As a result, industry personnel are now being challenged with the question, "How can corporations ensure that their sports marketing and charity dollars are both working in sync to deliver business results?"

Luckily for sports marketers, one young man—Harrie Bakst—has all the answers.

Harrie Bakst is a 23-year old entrepreneur who started the Carnegie Sports Group, a venture that helps companies combine their sports marketing and philanthropy efforts to deliver business results and achieve social goals.

Bakst however is not your typical 23-year old. He is a cancer survivor, a focal point of the new "Bakst Brothers" brand by Reebok, and the face of the book "A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through The Streets of New York" (Harper Collins).

As a businessman, Bakst has worked diligently to build effective programs for Coca-Cola Co., Reebok, and various other companies that are seeking to achieve the double-edged goal of initiating programs that achieve business and philanthropic results.

For Harrie Bakst, it's been all about timing. After graduating from NYU, he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. But instead of waving the white flag, Bakst took it upon himself to turn his diagnosis into an opportunity to make a difference. After successfully overcoming a disease that affects only 600 people each year, Harrie started the Carnegie Sports Group as a way to raise money for cancer research and help non-profit organizations secure funding through corporate marketing and sponsorship funds (buckets ten (10) times the size of typical philanthropic budgets).

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IEG research has revealed that cause marketing initiatives (which is Harrie Bakst's focus of concentration) are heavily on the rise, despite the fact that current economic conditions have forced companies to trim their sponsorship and ordinary philanthropic spend for 2009. The sector of cause marketing has seen a leap in corporate attention because 87% of consumers prefer a socially conscious brand over a non-socially conscious brand (assuming price and quality are constant) and companies can often receive 501(c)3 tax benefit from implementing such initiatives.

Bakst's persistence has led to business relationships with the Coca-Cola Co., Puma,CBS, Chipotle, GM, and Major League Soccer among others. His business has played a large role in driving charitable funds through a number of high-profile operations, including Stand Up for a Cure (starring Jerry Seinfeld), the NY Knicks exhibition game against Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv, and a Grassroot Soccer Charity event in New York City.

Hats off to Harrie for all the great things he has done in the sports industry. Please contact Harrie at hbakst@carnegiesportsgroup.com if you would like to learn more about his story and doing business with the Carnegie Sports Group.

Brian Gainor is the founding editor of PartnershipActivation.com, a site that identifies best practices in the sports marketplace. Brian can be reached at bgainor@partnershipactivation.com.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com