What tennis and philanthropy have in common

Roger Federer: I knew I wanted to support children living in poverty by starting my own foundation. From a very young age, I had the deep wish to give back to people who are less privileged than I am. My mother comes from South Africa, and I grew up seeing extreme poverty firsthand. During holidays spent in that region visiting family, I became aware at an early age that not all children enjoyed the same privileges I had growing up in a rich country like Switzerland. That’s why I founded the Roger Federer Foundation in 2003, beginning an exciting and educational journey.

I quickly realized that becoming a good philanthropist isn’t easy. The will to give back is not enough on its own. In the foundation’s early years, we were less rigorous about what we funded, and we quickly realized that we couldn’t measure whether we were having an impact or not. If we really wanted to change children’s lives in a tangible and sustainable way, we needed to go about it in a much more professional and strategic manner.

Philanthropy, like tennis, demands time and discipline. We follow a strict system of checks and balances and an effective project management cycle. Transparency, measurability, and evaluation of our engagement are also fundamental. And we try to achieve all this in the most cost-efficient manner. More than 92 percent of the Foundation’s expenditures flow into the countries and programs, and this is a metric that we are extremely proud of.

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