Chris Paul: citizen-athlete

"Rightly or wrongly, athletes are role models," said Marc Pollick, president and founder of the $3 billion Giving Back Fund, which helps athletes and celebrities make charitable investments. "They can do so much more than a regular person. They can galvanize a fan base, just like celebrities. There's no better example than Michael J. Fox, who has raised $200 million for Parkinson's [disease]."

Paul has his own charity, the CP3 Foundation, but it is set up in a manner that allows him to more seamlessly partner with organizations. It's part of what is called a "donor-advised fund," the same kind that Pollick runs, a third-party umbrella charity staffed by professionals who get paid a fee to administrate the charity -- everything from taking in donations to filing tax forms. The arrangement is touted as a way to avoid the mismanagement common among standalone athlete charities, as reported in March by Paula Lavigne of "Outside the Lines."

Through a donor-advised fund, the CP3 Foundation has refurbished basketball courts, distributed Thanksgiving meals, hosted holiday gifting parties, supported Make a Wish kids in North Carolina and partnered with Chase Bank on the CP3 Afterschool Zone in New Orleans. Annually, the Professional Bowlers Association donates for his appearance on a celebrity invitational tournament that airs on ESPN on Super Bowl Sunday. Paul has also found time to serve as ambassador for not just the President's Council, but for a national group that aims to prevent child abuse. "A lot of times, people think the best way to give back is monetary," Paul said. "Money is all good and well -- it's good to donate -- but I think the most valuable thing we all have is our time. Our time. Kids really know when you're spending genuine time with them."

3. Be creative

Ben Roethlisberger gives a dog to a police or fire department in every city in which the Steelers play. He's supplied 109 so far, plus the vests and training, at a cost of $1 million, along the way currying favor and fans on the road. Another example of innovation: Metta World Peace raffled off his 2010 Lakers championship ring, raising $650,000 for mental health. "It was brilliant because a player who earns a championship ring can get it replaced for $10,000 or $15,000," Pollick said. "You can turn that into so much money. It's a very simple thing to do."

Tony Hawk sends the used decks of top skateboarders to famous musicians with a note, "Please write the lyrics to this skater's favorite song on his skateboard, and we'll use it to create more skateparks for kids." Pairings have included Jamie Thomas and Bob Dylan, Mike Vallely and Tom Petty and Hawk and Paul McCartney. The boards get auctioned off at BoardsandBands.org for serious cash. In September, the Tony Hawk Foundation won the annual Steve Patterson Award for athlete philanthropy, as handed out by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It's helped fund more than 500 public skateparks in low-income communities.

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