Clear mission and vision — Create statements that embody your intentions and goals because they serve as the basis for programming. They be easy to understand and communicate to potential, donors, partners, and sponsors.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Hannibal Navies.

Hannibal Navies is the Vice President of Development at Athletes Charitable and a nine-year NFL veteran. He is passionate about philanthropy and social good efforts that create meaningful change in disenfranchised communities. In this role, Navies provides leadership, strategic direction, and creative partnership opportunities that fuel the growth and sustainability of both Athletes Charitable and United Charitable. Hannibal’s leadership in this work reflects the dedication that he has for empowering professional athletes and his desire to see them thrive beyond their sports careers.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about a ‘top of mind’ topic. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?

The first thing that comes to mind is the passing of my father. It propelled me into fight or flight mode, where I had to make the conscious decision to be disciplined. This contributed to my personal growth and allowed me to become my own man. I felt prepared to do so based on the lessons my father taught me about history, legacy, the value of mentorship, and the importance of fatherhood. He imparted more knowledge and values to me in 13 years than some people get in a lifetime. This leads into the second life experience that has shaped me, which is when I became a father myself. I want to pass on that same knowledge and values/morals to my own children. I am who I am because of the father that I am.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? We would love to hear a few stories or examples.

The first is integrity; I have strong morals and values. I pride myself on not only being honest, but a man of my word who will not shirk his commitments or responsibilities. With that said, I think it is key to lead by example. It is important to establish a culture of integrity, trust, respect, compassion, among others traits, and that starts at the top with leadership. The last thing I will call out is the ability to overcome adversity. It is something that we will all encounter, and I view failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.

What’s the most interesting discovery you’ve made since you started leading your organization?

I have a front row seat to how fun, innovative and powerful philanthropy can be for athletes. Philanthropy is a vehicle to change or touch people’s lives. When you have the platform of an athlete, and the understanding of how to use your influence to spur positive change, you can truly make a difference. They have the unique ability to bring more attention to a cause, raise more money, and have their impact realized much faster. It is an amazing feeling for our athletes to see the result of their commitment to service.

Can you please tell our readers more about how you or your organization intends to make a significant social impact?

This answer is two-fold. I have over 20 years of experience in philanthropy dating back to the establishment of the Hannibal Navies Foundation in 2003 during my NFL career. That has since evolved into the 360 Sports Academy, where our mission is to engage and develop youth by providing year-round educational and athletic resources. We put an emphasis on providing comprehensive programming with a focus on not only academics and athletics, but life skills and service. It is a 360 approach to ensuring they become productive citizens. In my position as the VP of Development of United and Athletes Charitable, I am able to use my knowledge and personal experience in philanthropy to guide and be a resource to other athletes wanting to start their own journey. The more athletes that use their platform and influence for social good, the greater the impact.

What makes you feel passionate about this cause more than any other?

I am able to help people all over the world by empowering others to become social entrepreneurs. In this role, my reach is bigger; it is more than just my cause. I am passionate about United Charitable and Athletes Charitable because I have the opportunity to give others the tools to achieve sustainable impact and create a legacy through service that they can be proud of.

Without naming names, could you share a story about an individual who benefitted from your initiatives?

We have a number of young athletes on the roster who have committed to giving earlier in their career. They are provided with structure and a team to guide them on strategy and compliance. As a result, they will not only continue to get better on the field, court or course, but be able to maximize their influence and impact beyond their sport. This is a luxury that I did not have when I first launched my foundation.

We all want to help and to live a life of purpose. What are three actions anyone could take to help address the root cause of the problem you’re trying to solve?

My advice would be to find a cause or organization that they are passionate about, and get behind it through advocacy, volunteerism or donations. There is no contribution too small; they just have to be willing to give any amount their time, expertise, or financial support. If they desire to play a larger role, there is always the option of starting their own foundation. This is why United Charitable and Athletes Charitable is so important; we make it less intimidating and more approachable.

Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Create A Successful & Effective Nonprofit That Leaves A Lasting Legacy?”

Athletes Charitable assists athletes successfully navigate the complexities of establishing or growing their philanthropic efforts by serving as a turnkey operation that provides the tools, resources and expertise to build a legacy beyond the playing field. Based on our vast experience, here is my Top 5 list:

  1. Clear mission and vision — Create statements that embody your intentions and goals because they serve as the basis for programming. They be easy to understand and communicate to potential, donors, partners, and sponsors.
  2. Community Outreach — Successful organizers create and foster relationships within their communities. A trusted network makes it easier to build donor lists and opens the door to potential partnership and sponsorship opportunities.
  3. Compliance — “70% of athlete charities are not compliant after 2 years.” There are many things to consider including expense tracking, insurance, waivers, and more. Compliance is the backbone of any successful non-profit and is a prerequisite for sustainable growth. Sustainable
  4. Strategy — Take the time to develop a strategy, set measurable goals, and establish ways to track progress to ensure the work is sustainable.
  5. Transparency — Be open about how the money raised is being spent. People are more likely to make repeat donations when they are aware of how and where their dollar is making an impact.

How has the pandemic changed your definition of success?

The definition of success has not changed for me; it is more so my approach. You have to be self -driven, and ask yourself, “How do I sharpen my skill set our understand what my true value is?” It is all about setting your own goals and expectations for yourself.

How do you get inspired after an inevitable setback?

I know that any setback will make me stronger because I will have learned something in the process, and learning means you are getting better. I operate under the mindset that when adversity hits, it means that something bigger is coming.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world who you would like to talk to, to share the idea behind your non-profit? He, she, or they might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would like to have a conversation with Lebron James. I feel that he has not only made philanthropy a priority, but is innovative. He is an example to athletes that philanthropy and community impact is an important part of their legacy. It would be interesting to hear his thoughts about how to get more collaboration amongst athletes on their philanthropic endeavors.

You’re doing important work. How can our readers follow your progress online?

I encourage readers to visit to learn more about what our nonprofit does, as well as sign up for our monthly newsletter. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn and follow Athletes Charitable on all social media channels.

Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and wellness.