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Detroit Lions help rebuild city with innovative gridiron giving, U-M researchers say
Date:5/20/2014

ANN ARBORThe Detroit Lions' new model of philanthropy and community engagement may prove to be a touchdown for the city of Detroit.

A new case study of corporate social responsibility in sport by University of Michigan researchers uses the Lions as an exemplar of a professional sports team reinventing its charitable giving and community relations approach in hopes of making a bigger impact on the community.

In 2012, the Lions created the "Living in the City" campaigna new model of corporate philanthropy that emphasizes deeper relationships with a small core group of community nonprofits and organizations, say Kathryn Heinze, assistant professor of sport management at the U-M School of Kinesiology, and Sara Soderstrom, assistant professor of organizational studies and program in the environment at the U-M College of Literature, Science, and Arts.

Corporate social responsibility has increasingly played a large role in professional sports, but the Lions' revamped giving strategy differs from traditional charitable giving among professional sports in several key ways, Heinze says. Typically, teams practice broad philanthropythey divvy up a large pot of money among many different organizations with different missions. With a few exceptions, the team's involvement with the nonprofit usually ends there, Heinze says.

The Lions developed a giving strategy that focuses on two areas of greatest need in Detroit: 1) health and wellness and 2) community development. To concentrate its focus, the number of organizations the Lions support dropped by roughly 80 percent to six core groups, Heinze says.

"The Lions' partnerships are fewer in number, but the relationships and commitment are stronger," Heinze said. "These relationships evolved into unique and authentic partnerships for the Lions and their partners that have, so far, resulted in a number of innovative and successful joint programs and activities."

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Contact: Laura Bailey
baileylm@umich.edu
734-647-1848
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

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