Chuck Ealey: businesspeople need to be involved in charity

Chuck Ealey (2nd from the left) at the May 23 press conference for the Golf Against Kids Cancer event on June 24.

Chuck Ealey has set records on the football field, but his goal now is to help charities.

The Mississauga resident and former CFL quarterback aims to encourage more business professionals to get involved in foundation work following his retirement later this fall.

“It would be me with people one-on-one,” Ealey told about his plans for a specialized consulting business. “There’s ways that they can set a foundation in memory of an individual and have income from that foundation paid to the Cancer Society or whatever charity they want to support.”

Ealey said that in his experience, doing foundational work and setting up a foundation is a very onerous time-consuming process. “There’s a simpler way to do that,” said the regional manager for the Misssissauga office of Investors Group. “That’s what I’ll be working on when people want to have their own foundation with limited resources that they want to give back to various charities.”

Setting up a big foundation normally involves a board of directors and tax issues with the government.

But Ealey said there is an easier alternative, through a strategic planning process, to establish something in a person’s name or other name to support other existing charities. “There’s a simpler way for more people to be involved and giving back to the community versus the big process like we do with Coast to Coast for Cancer,” he said.

The former CFL rookie of the year and all star acknowledged the importance of networks and businesses that help sponsor events and other work. “We give back to those companies,” Ealey said, “Whether it be banks or our business. A lot of our work in business comes from them.”

And while fundraising is definitely a key issue, Ealey emphasized that business people can still contribute to charities and foundations through other, non-monetary, methods. “You can drop off stuff, you can pick up stuff, you can create signs, you can create a number of different ways to support a charity,” he said, citing in-kind services.

“I think it’s just a matter of getting the best different people.”

While having a business background is great for when you’re on the board of a large place like the Living Arts Centre, it’s less important for a smaller charity. “There the business aspect only makes sure you follow the rules and read the instructions about how you set up those things,” he said.

The primary challenges are central things like funding, marketing, getting enough volunteers and competing for awareness against other existing charities. “It’s just getting the resources and people to get the financial contributions to something they believe in,” Ealey said.

The Mississauga Sports Hall of Famer also admitted, in some cases, it has been harder to raise funds. “The resources in income and profitability of companies have changed and then you get hit up by so many charities,” Ealey said, noting the importance of volunteers to help cut down on costs.

Ultimately, Ealey encouraged business people to get involved in charity work, be it through volunteering, donations or events like the Golf Against Kids Cancer event happening on June 24 at Mississauga’s Rattlesnake Point Golf Club.

“We’ve been blessed with the opportunity and resources to help other people and I think that’s what life is really all about.”

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