What can you tell us about the BIG Foundation?
The idea of the BiG Foundation was conceived a couple of years ago but remained just an idea until I had a meeting with England rugby legend, Jason Leonard OBE, who discussed his involvement with various charities over the years since his retirement from the game. A few beers later, The BiG Foundation was born. The idea was to raise money through my connections within the betting and gaming industry to provide support for those in and around the industry.
As an example, there are many sports people who have dedicated their lives to the sports they love with little or no financial reward. Without this dedication the betting industry would be unable to survive. Some of these individuals fall on hard times through injury or other and so we wanted to help these people. Added to this many charities won’t accept donations from our industry. Creating The BiG Foundation provides a conduit for these funds.
The first major event is the BIG Sports Dinner – what can attendees expect?
We set out to make The BiG Sports Dinner ‘The’ only Sports Dinner in the Betting and Gaming Industry. Attended by a host of sports stars, and featuring a few key industry awards, including; ‘The Best Sports Betting Campaign’ and; ‘The Best Use of a Sporting Star in a Betting Campaign’. It will be a fantastic night of sports stories, banter and brilliant entertainment whilst raising money for some amazing sports related charities.
The BiG Sports Dinner, 2014 will launch The BiG Foundation which aims to improve and enhance the quality of life of injured, sick, or terminally ill individuals globally, with a focus on the healing power of sport.
We have Austin Healey hosting the evening along with a number of other sports personalities who will ‘take to the sofa’ to provide a light hearted Q and A session. We will have a magician and other entertainment as well as an after party at Mahiki.
What challenges have you faced in putting this on?
To put it simply this has been one of the hardest projects I have been involved with! In over 15 years in Betting and Gaming I don’t think I have had to endure such challenges in getting this project off the drawing board. First of all was getting the Charity set up and registered legally, get the brand, mission statements, website and social media in place. Then there was designing the event itself. Without my ‘partners’ in this it would have been a long and expensive road. Already the Founders have had to contribute substantial, time effort and personal funds to get us thus far.
Along the way we have understood that regardless of your ‘charitable’ status, people always want to make money out of you so we have had to become more business focussed than ever. On top of that it is getting people to commit to attending the event. We need to pay for things in advance but I don’t think people realise that the money needs to be committed as early as possible so there is the further issue of trying to push people without being overly so. I don’t think we are asking for a lot, but on meeting one CEO on another issue, he mentioned his £100 million marketing budget. I thought this an opportune moment to introduce BiG and was dumbstruck on the feedback I got: “Good luck with that!”
Now the easy part! The Foundation itself has been well received, as you can see by the people involved. We have Patrons and Ambassadors including Sarah, Duchess of York, Harry Redknapp, Jason Leonard OBE, Guy Sangster, Jamie Spencer, and Dalton Grant, amongst others. We have tried to ensure we get a representative from the major sports as well as cover the globe with representatives is Asia and America in order to take the brand global.
Microgaming have been fantastic in their support and their generosity has really helped kick start the project. We hope that others will follow their lead and really put us on the map. The Patrons and Directors don’t take any fees out of there Charity and all funds raised will go to Charity.
How can companies get involved?
Quite simply we just want people to attend the event in any form, or if they have the budget, to sponsor part of the event. I can personally guarantee everyone will have a fantastic fun-filled evening. We have some great speakers. We have some great auction and raffle prizes (some of which are already on the website). Email us at [email protected] or download a booking form from the website.
What are the long term plans for the BIG Foundation?
We want the The BiG Sports Dinner 2014 to be the inaugural event for a regular appearance on the calendar. We want to add BiG Sports Lunches, we want to add BiG Sports Golf Days, we want to take the brand global. I want to see The BiG Foundation training and rehabilitation camps further down the line. All of this is very achievable.