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01/30/2012 04:34 PM
When professional athletes retire, there are several paths they often choose. Some stay within their sport, finding a role as a coach, a scout, a broadcaster or in a management position. Others venture into the business world and forge a new career. And many still look to use their platform as a way to give back to the communities that supported them along their journey.
Chris Doleman spent 15 years chasing down quarterbacks and running backs for the Vikings, Falcons and 49ers, leaving the game in 2000 with 150 1/2 sacks and is a finalist for the NFL Hall of Fame this year. As a player, he was highly committed to supporting his team's and the league's community programs. So it was a natural transition for him to seek out a way to combine his passion for giving back with his business savvy and entrepreneurial spirit.
Doleman realized that most former pro athletes stay very active with their respective foundations upon leaving their sport. But many find that raising money on a regular basis can be a bigger challenge than a third and long on the road or a 2 strike count in the late innings. What he saw were players repeatedly going to the same sources for funding, and commonly not getting enough funds to effectively distribute through their foundations. So rather than compete for the same dollars by starting his own foundation, Doleman took another route and found a way to help them all.
With the launch of Chris Doleman Pro Auctions and the Celebrity Charitable Network, foundations and sports nonprofits have access to one-of-a-kind experiences that can be used to raise funds and drive awareness. We had a chance to talk with Chris to learn more about his new business ventures and how they're designed to help foundations of all sizes with their fundraising goals...
Q: Why did you create Chris Doleman Pro Auctions and Celebrity Charitable Network?
A: Chris Doleman Pro Auctions® was created to offer charities and non-profit organizations a unique and innovative way to raise funds online. I wanted to offer the organizations an opportunity where they can take advantage of an online auction platform. Through Chris Doleman Pro Auctions, we also work with the organizations to integrate social media and fundraising by hosting online auction events for all levels of charitable and non-profit organizations. The service is available to any charitable organization wishing to raise awareness of upcoming auctions and increase exposure of auction items to a broader audience of potential bidders, ultimately generating improved charitable funds raised. Auctions range from high-end celebrity and sports figures and their charities, to smaller, regional non-profit organizations looking for a wider audience.
In addition to the Chris Doleman Pro Auctions online auction service, we utilize The Celebrity Charitable Network (CCN) as an information gateway to highlight charitable organizations and their efforts to raise awareness through various projects.
I felt by having these two platforms operate within each other, this would give the charities and non-profit organizations the best of both worlds, a robust online auction system and an opportunity to promote their products and services.
Q: Why was the auction model chosen as the fundraising tool?
A: Online auctions have grown to be a viable tool for charities and non-profit organizations. An online auction can reduce the cost of planning the live auction event. Additionally, the opportunity exist to reach a wider audience to promote your product and services. Chris Doleman Pro Auctions is a great resource to help raise awareness and build customer loyalty for your organization.
Q: How do Nonprofits and Foundations get involved with the auctions?
A: Nonprofits and foundations who are interested in conducting an online auction can contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . Our team will work with them to help them set up an account, assist them in uploading their auction items and provide technical support. In addition, our graphics design team will design banners to promote their auction on the auction website and the Celebrity Charitable Network website.
Q: Are there ways for Nonprofits to tie-in an auction with an existing fundraising program or upcoming event?
A: Absolutely! Our platform is flexible enough to allow non-profits to tailor fundraising programs. Some nonprofits may need to just use our online auction platform, whereas others may need to incorporate a full marketing strategy. Our team works with our clients to plan a perfect strategy for their next fundraising event.
Q: What inspired you to give back? Did it come from your family, an influential person or a specific event in your life?
A: To me, giving back is a lifestyle. For as long as I could remember, whether I played amateur or professional sports, I always made sure I acknowledged the kids on the sidelines who were in wheelchairs, terminally ill or were born with some kind of affliction.
They are the true heroes because they get up every day wishing they lived a life that most people take for granted. This is why I feel I have the responsibility to give thanks for the things that I’m able to do with my body.
Terminally ill kids may never get a chance to see adulthood. To me, they, along with the homeless, hungry and those in need are considered the “influential persons” in my life.
Q: During your time as an NFL player, were there any charitable programs you were involved with – either driven by the league or a team - that stood out or stuck with you? Was there a cause or program you supported every season?
A: I typically gravitated to supporting charitable programs that gave back to terminally ill children. I enjoy making a difference in the lives of innocent yet, less fortunate children.
Q: Do you feel the NFL does a good job in encouraging teams and players to get involved with community and charitable programs?
A: Yes, the NFL participates in some amazing projects when it comes to community and charitable programs. My guess is there are roughly about 1/3 to 1/2 of the 53 players on the team that have some kind of charity or foundation they work with.
It’s a part of our social responsibility within the NFL to give back. As a matter of fact, players and the entire NFL family attend several charity events throughout the year. Also, the NFL has a nonprofit organization called NFL Giving. This organization encompasses the many ways that the National Football League, including its clubs, owners and players, strengthen communities nationwide.
Q: Are there any specific causes or charitable programs that are important to you today?
A: The charitable programs I find to be important is anything that helps humanity as a whole. My focus is to help citizens of the U.S. and focusing on taking care of those here at home. I’m not opposed to assisting the rest of the world, but if we focus on making us healthier, we can become better people. You grow from the inside out. By taking care of the homeless, hungry, the working poor and those who are struggling, we can unite and come together to build a better community and ultimately a better world.