“I think athletes – just like people in general – want to make a difference in any way they can, however they don’t always know the best way to make that difference – at least that was the case with me.”
Modern pentathlete Tom Toolis is one of a growing number of elite athletes pledging their support and monetary donations to High Impact Athletes, an organisation which uses athletes as role models to benefit effective, evidence-based charities across the world.
Here, Tom tells why – after not knowing the best way to use his voice for good – the organisation appealed to him.
“I’ve always felt inclined to help others, but looking around at charities, I’ve never quite known which causes to donate or dedicate my time to.
“High Impact Athletes uses athletes as role models to encourage others to support gold standard, not-for-profit organisations, where 100% of the donations go to the intended cause. It didn’t take too much convincing for me to pledge 2% of my annual earnings to two charities of my choice.
“High Impact Athletes support multiple causes and follow the philosophy of effective altruism, whereby evidence and reason are used to try to benefit a cause to the greatest extent possible.
“One of the things that I really like is that, after a year of donations, High Impact Athletes provide you with feedback detailing how many people you’ve helped, or for example how many tonnes of carbon you’ve helped to remove from the environment. It really puts the impact that you’ve had in context, and it feels pretty good to know how you’ve helped.”
“Athletes are often referred to as role models, which in the past has been very much centred around their athletic performances. Now though, I think that’s changing – I think athletes are gaining respect due to their character, and what they do outside of their sport.
“You don’t have to look far to see what influence sportspeople can have in their communities – someone like Marcus Rashford is a great example.
“With social media, and the influence that athletes have over potentially thousands of people, there’s a perfect opportunity for sportspeople to use their status to promote positive messages.”