Though I’ve mentioned the Major League Baseball’s cause work through global volunteering, we’ve yet to feature the group’s overall cause strategy and illustrate examples of execution. To get the full picture, I had the pleasure of connecting with Jacqueline Parkes—MLB’s Chief Marketing Officer—who oversees their community activities.
I was not only surprised by what Jacqueline shared with me, but delighted too. Here are my key takeaways on our conversation, which demonstrate why MLB’s model is successful:
1) Compassion comes from the top. It is MLB’s Commissioner Bud Selig’s belief that the company is a social institution. This means it is the MLB’s mission to move that vision forward, and the strength behind that mission is reinforced at all levels of the company.
2) Causes are diverse. From cause marketing to cash donations, MLB leverages their assets to support a number of causes. They’ve raised over $35 million for Stand Up To Cancer, and have been a Boys & Girls Club partner for 17 years. They support nonprofits dedicated to prostate cancer research and breast cancer awareness. MLB’s community department works with all 30 club community directors, in 27 different areas. Naturally, each club has different philanthropic priorities, so MLB helps enable them to advance their causes.
3) When MLB commits, they put in 110%. “We take our cause work seriously,” says Parkes. “For example, our partnership with Stand Up To Cancer is integrated into literally everything we do. We use our digital assets and television ads to run PSAs and dedicate games to cause.”
4) Community is paramount. Throughout my conversation with Parkes, she reinforced MLB’s belief that the communities in which they operate are the centerpiece of their corporate responsibility. MLB created a foundation to help PTSD-afflicted veterans because they recognize the health of their communities is the health of their game. “We’re reviving inner cities and aligning with leading charitable organizations—ones addressing problems affecting 1 of 2 men [prostate cancer] or 1 of 3 women [breast cancer]—in the places where we live and play. We want to compete with [cancer], not each other, so we partner and collaborate whenever possible.”
5) Everyone is involved. When it comes to MLB’s cause portfolio, the players live up to their monikers as active participants. MLB dedicated Game One of the World Series (video below) to Stand Up To Cancer. Fans in the stands literally stood up to cancer, holding placards with the name of the person to whom they were paying tribute. Here’s the thing—players were holding placards too. Every single player held up at least one placard; some held up two. In fact, umpires, camera crews, and sports newscasters stood up too—everyone joined.