It was a day a while in the making but we knew the subject was one that would appeal and it seems from the reaction on the day as well as online that we together with a top class line up of speakers and contributors, delivered.

The morning kicked off with European Gold Medallist Ellen Keane sharing how swimming as a child had given her the confidence to live life to the full with her ‘lucky fin’. She wears the responsibility of helping to change perceptions on people with disability lightly and the fact she does so with a smile and humour.

She gently prodded me for having asked her agent Sinead Galvin before we went on stage if I could Giver Ellen a hand with the microphone. Language matters.

Ellen was joined by Damien O’Neill of Allianz, a business leader whose passion for the social impact of what the company does shines through. He spoke of the impact of using Paralympic athletes in advertising and of the long-standing connection to families through support of Cumman na mBunscoil.

The reward came later when our bespoke research from The Brand Fans showed a Net Promoter Score for Allianz, the willingness of customers to recommend them, that beat all others. Social Good projects work, in every way.

We discussed the challenge which businesses face in terms of cynicism and criticism for the motivation behind backing particular projects with Karl Donnelly of Three and John Greene of the Sunday Independent and showed the Nike ad that so polarised the United States but which was created only with reference to people overcoming challenges of gender, diversity disability and more, without a single shot of kneeling NFL players.

We also spoke about the importance of breaking down the barriers that exist between corporate social responsibility and sponsorship programmes.

Leinster Rugby’s Marcus Ó Buachalla delivered a strong and detailed explanation of how they had selected MS Ireland and the Down Syndrome Centre as their nominated charities and why it was for two years as opposed to a single season.

“The first key element has to be a connection to what is happening in Leinster so that our fans can see the impact of what they are being asked to support.”

The second thing, which will be a wake-up call to some was that in pitching to become a charity partner, don’t focus too much on the cause. That seems strange but as Ó Buachalla explained every cause has value, putting one as more important as another is subjective. The most important thing is to focus on more of a business case on what the partnership can do to make a real difference.

Paul Halpin and Emma Doherty from the two charities agreed that the process was robust and, importantly transparent and both felt they had learned from the experience as well. They credited the importance of timing in that they both had two live campaigns ready to be boosted by the first engagement at the start of the season.

After our first break, Shane Kelly of BEKO explained how his company tied the shifting of white goods to tackling the problem of childhood obesity around the world.

The Clasico Activation generated 4 million views and €1 million in funding for Unicef in a mere four days of its launch.

Daragh Persse guided us through The Brand Fans research on the evidence for Sport for Social Good projects having a real impact on trust, closeness, loyalty, and willingness to recommend a brand. These are the brass tacks that are essential to back up the support of projects and the intention is that we will roll out this research to a wider group of brands in advance of gathering again and publishing a similar report in 2019.

Gareth Maguire of Sport Changes Life and Gemma Bell of Bank of Ireland spoke about sport as being the best prism through which to engage customers as well as communities.

We covered the handshake between departments in the bank that helped to enhance the power of the partnership they had with the Irish Heart Foundation and the ultimate education in CPR of 300,000 schoolchildren. It would have happened but maybe not with as much impact if the right willingness across the departments had not been created first.

We spoke of the importance of when to step in and when to step out of interventions in the hardest possible circumstances, and of the impact that receiving a call from the Police service of Northern Ireland to say your team are facing a real threat of violence.

Nobody said that doing good was always going to be easy.

Interspersed through the morning we had ‘Knowledge Bursts’ from the Dublin Simon Community, Breast Cancer Ireland, Alan Kerins and from Special Olympics Athlete Fiona Ryan who moved everyone with her simple telling of her story and how sport had transformed her life.

The final session was one that will live long in my memory for the simple power of its conviction.

John Shiels is the CEO of the Manchester United Foundation. He spoke of going in to work with the children who are ‘hard to love’, and whose world extends to the ten minutes of life around them and no further.

It was a pleasure to spend time in his company and we hope to release a video of his session over the coming days so that the message can go wider still from those that were in the room.

Talks have already begun on Sport for Social Good 2019.  If you would like to be involved with a campaign, as part of the research project, as a potential speaker or simply to be there get in touch with us today quoting Sport for Social Good 2019 in the subject line and let’s have a conversation.


Thank you to all those who supported the event, to Allianz in particular whose backing and conviction gave us the will to bring it to life, to Bank of Ireland, Lidl and the Brand Fans who supported with enthusiasm, and to all those who came to learn, to share and to experience what Sport for Business is all about and how Sport for Social Good can be the most important element of what we do.

We were grateful also to Jamie and Ciaran from who are producing a video of the morning and were so professional throughout; to Liam, Mark and Ailish at the Wood Quay Venue for making the day so easy; to Aine and Devin from Trinity Sport who helped out through the day and did so with such enthusiasm, and to Orla and Roisin at Nettl who produced such top class design and print for the Annual Report.


Image Credit: Morgan Treacy,