History of Kickball for a Cause
For the first 13 years, the tournament was called Kickball for Hope and the beneficiary each year was Girls Hope, a local organization doing great work in our community. As a result of PUMP’s 2015 Strategic Planning process that established four new priority focus areas for PUMP, we changed the tournament to Kickball for a Cause to provide us greater flexibility to support these new areas. In 2015 and 2016, PUMP staff selected 4 nonprofits each year who were aligned with our 4 new focus areas. In some ways, this was the start of PUMP’s renewed emphasis on advocacy in the community. The Causes in the first two years included:
- Infrastructure & Connectivity: Bike Pittsburgh
- Education & Employment: The Education Partnership
- Health & Wellness: The Mario Lemieux Foundation
- Diversity & Inclusion: The YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh
- Infrastructure & Connectivity: Friends of the Riverfront
- Education & Employment: Orange Arrow
- Health & Wellness: 412 Food Rescue
- Diversity & Inclusion: Strong Women, Strong Girls
In 2017, PUMP advanced our Public Policy work even further by creating a Advocacy & Public Policy Agenda to give young people a platform to advocate and care for the Pittsburgh region. The 16-point public policy agenda represented 4 key themes: Diverse & Connected Region; Equitable Opportunities for Success; Active & Engaged Residents; and Equitable Access to Health and Wellness. With this update, PUMP once again realigned the focus of Kickball for a Cause with these priorities and, based on feedback from participants in the tournament, also decided to limit the beneficiaries each year to 1-2 Causes so that both players and PUMP members could more deeply connect with and learn from the Causes.
Given that we wanted to engage our members and players on a deeper level, we also changed the format to a multi-step process in order to decide on the Causes. This way the engagement with the Causes started from the very beginning, instead of just at the tournament itself. First, we hold open nominations where we collect the suggestions of organizations from our members. To ensure nominees are a good fit for the event, we then have an internal vetting process to narrow the list down to between 5-10 finalists using the the following criteria:
- The organization’s mission and programming align with PUMP’s Advocacy + Public Policy Agenda.
- The organization must be a 501(c)3 with a focus on the Greater Pittsburgh Region.
- The organization must have demonstrated programming that impacts the lives of the people of the Greater Pittsburgh Region.
- Organizational capacity to demonstrate impact
- Organizational capacity to be involved and engaging at the event
- Good communication with PUMP
- The organization has a need for Financial Assistance to elevate their work
- Having not been a Cause in the prior two years
After the internal vetting process, we are left with between 5-10 organizations. At this point we offer a two-week open voting period for the community. This gives us the chance to highlight the work of 8-10 organizations who are doing amazing work in Pittsburgh and for our members and event participants to get to know them better. It also allows for each organization to share the voting process and in turn their audience and followers get to know us and our work too. In the end, the finalist that receives the most votes in the community process automatically becomes a Kickball for a Cause beneficiary. PUMP then decides if that one is enough, or if a second Cause is warranted. For the past two years, we have selected a second Cause because voting was so close between the top Causes.
Since adopting our new Kickball for a Cause nomination and voting process, our beneficiaries have been:
2020 (canceled) and 2021:
Over the lifetime of this event, PUMP has raised over $134,000 for worthy Causes in the region. The best part is that we have built lasting relationships with these organizations and we have been able to work together, long past Kickball for a Cause, to support each other!