Emergency and disaster appeals often elicit similar calls for certain groups to give, or for providers to charge less. The appeals on behalf of NHS staff and all charities affected by the coronavirus pandemic are no different.
The first stock section of society that attracted public attention was professional footballers, specifically Premier League footballers.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested that they should donate a portion of their wages. He even specified that they should then direct these not to charities of their choice but to ‘struggling hospices’.
Such generic calls are odd. Hectoring a specific profession and not others is seldom an effective fundraising tool. It smacks of choosing an easy target, ignores existing giving and different charitable interests by said footballers, and perhaps of playing to the gallery in a crisis.
Of course, all wealthy individuals might be encouraged to join in their support of current appeals, but to single out one profession is fundraising at the level of “why don’t you ask Bill Gates to donate to your charity?” or, from my early days in fundraising, “why don’t you get Sting to put on a concert for you?”
Coming from a member of a Cabinet consisting almost exclusively of multi-millionaires the focus on professional footballers rings a little hollow too.
Nevertheless journalist Robert Peston backed the idea:
Former political adviser Alastair Campbell called this out as simple populism:
Wayne Rooney responded, pointing out that the suggestion was not made in good grace:
And was met, not unexpectedly, with a negative news story the very next morning in the Daily Mail:
SEE ALSO: How Manchester City supported its community during COVID-19 (24 May 2021)
Footballers who have given
Needless to say, footballers and Premier League players, do give to charity in various ways, and have given in response to the coronavirus crisis.
Gary Neville made available the two hotels he part-owns with former Manchester United team-mate Ryan Giggs to NHS workers free of charge.
Joe Cole and his wife have set up a charity and provided support to NHS staff.
Jordan Henderson fronted “a huge group of players” from the Premier League who have created #PlayersTogether, an initiative to partner with and support NHS Charities Together.
Other players are calling for support for other charities beyond the NHS Charities Together campaign:
Calling supporters under lockdown
Footballers can give in other ways too.
Staff, current and past players at Stoke City are calling supporters to encourage them and counter their isolation under lockdown.
The football club is owned by the Coates family. The Denise Coates Foundation has donated £10 million to help staff and patients at Royal Stoke and the County Hospital.
More football fundraising
- Six football-related fundraising events (1 June 2016)
- Got. Got. Need. Confessions of a football sticker collector (23 April 2014)
- Marcus Rashford is the youngest person to lead the Sunday Times Giving List (26 May 2021)