VP and Co-Founder of The Players Philanthropy Fund
Former Baltimore Raven Kicker Matt Stover discusses his new playing field.
Matt it is truly an honor to connect with you today.
You had an extremely successful 20-year career in the NFL. Where did the desire to play
football start? Tell us about the journey to the NFL.
My desire to play in the football, be in the NFL, was a part of me since my 1st grade teacher told my parents sign me up for football. I started as a running back, then to wide receiver, then
punter, and eventually into a kicker. I was always around the game. In middle and high school I
sold programs at all of the Dallas Cowboy, Cotton Bowl, and SMU games. I was very close to
the Dallas Cowboys organization because many of the coaches lived around me. I grew up with
Lee Reeves, son of legendary Coach Dan Reeves. I loved to kick and thought “Why not me”.
You were able to remain very level-headed throughout your NFL career – avoiding the
pitfalls that many athletes fall privy to. How were you able to achieve this?
I credit my wife Debbie for it all. She and our kids are my foundation. Throughout the years and
the long hours on the road, I always remained focused on what was best for them. Additionally, I
knew I wanted to live a life of significance. I knew I wanted to give back to the greater good and help others give back as well.
Switching to your business and philanthropic endeavors, you’re the co-founder of the
Players Philanthropy Fund (PPF). Tell our readers about the fund, how it started, and the
mission that drives it.
The Players Philanthropy Fund (PPF) is an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity that acts
as a fiduciary, enabling organizations to engage in philanthropy without the fiscal, legal, and
operational burden of starting a new standalone nonprofit.
The mission of the Players Philanthropy Fund is to educate, facilitate, and inspire best-practice-
based philanthropy. Everyday, PPF’s goal is to empower individuals by providing financial and
administrative support to their charitable organization, freeing them to focus on achieving the
maximum impact possible for their charity or community.
My PPF co-founders, nonprofit executive Seth McDonnell and estate planning attorney Emil
Kallina, knew that if we could develop a way to remove much of the complexity and confusion
that athletes, celebrities and other individuals experience in developing a charity, we’d see
higher participation in giving. With that idea in mind, we developed three operating platforms an individual, group of individuals, or corporation/association can choose from to establish their charitable organization: The Donor Advised Fund, Fiscal Sponsorship, and Private Operating Foundation.Each platform has its own unique financial and administrative benefits.
PPF allows the athletes, entertainers, and other potential philanthropists to establish a foundation or charity without the administrative burden of a stand-alone organization. When doing so,there's a lot of trust that goes on both sides of the table. You're becoming teammates so to speak.
What lessons did you take from your football career that helped you create PPF's operating process with its clients?
My football career taught me that I wanted to build an organization that is transparent, flexible,
and inclusive. An organization that runs likes a business but feels like a family. I believe that
trust is built when you lead with an education-first mentality, so in establishing PPF we created
an infrastructure that allows clients or potential clients to ask questions or be connected with
resources that will allow for them to achieve success.
Matt you have your own foundation, The Matt Stover Foundation. Can you tell us a little
bit about it?
For the majority of my career, my wife and I made generous private donations to many
community-based charitable organizations. Back in 2002, I realized that I could do more by
founding my own charitable organization. With that in mind, the Matt Stover Foundation was
launched. The mission of the Matt Stover Foundation is to pool our donations with funds from
other individuals and organizations. The result has been greater assistance to those who need it
Today’s professional athlete is doing more to prepare for their life after sports. What
advice would you give to a young professional athlete who desires to establish a
business or charity in retirement?
My biggest piece of advice is for each athlete to start thinking early. God willing, your career will last a long time. In the event that it doesn’t, you want to already have a backup plan in motion.
Here are a few things my personal and professional experience have taught me to consider
before developing a charitable organization:
Brand – How will launching a charitable organization help the individual realize his or her short-
and long-term personal brand goals? Does the person have the team in place to ensure the
charities’ brand and messaging are strong and executed consistently and effectively?
Differentiation – How will the mission of this organization be different from other similar
organizations in its space? How will this charity improve/change/innovate the charitable
Timing – Is this the right time for a person to take on the responsibility of being the face of a
charitable organization. Additionally, will this person have the time required to make the
Financial requirements – Does this person fully understand the financial requirements of
operating a charitable organization? Does the person have a team and processes in place to
ensure the charities long-term success?
Matt, we always want to get to know our guests better so now it’s your turn. You and the
family are away on vacation together. You’ve managed to get one hour to be by yourself.
What will you be doing?
I would sit and enjoy a good book.
Matt Stover, I want to thank you for taking the time to give us a glimpse into the Player
Philanthropy Fund and into your life as well. If someone wanted to know more about the
fund, your foundation, or to book you for speaking engagements, how can they contact
Please visit to learn more about our mission and clients. You can also find us on
social media via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
Thank you and all the best to you.