How Angel City FC Builds Partnerships Based on Community Impact & Female Empowerment
When Jess Smith watched Angel City FC take the field for the first time earlier this year, she turned to a representative from front-of-the-kit sponsor DoorDash and joked about her initial pitch to the brand.
At the time, back in 2020, Angel City FC didn’t have a logo. The team didn’t have a fanbase. But the organization had a purpose and the club’s Head of Revenue was able to deliver that value in Angel City FC’s vision.
“This is what we’re going to be,” Smith explained to DoorDash. “This is who we’re building it with. We’d like you to own this journey with us as our front-of-kit partner.”
The answer came quickly. The response: “Absolutely. We’re in.”
So far in this first season for the NWSL club, Angel City FC has sold more than 16,000 season tickets. The organization has 20 corporate partners generating more than $40 million dollars in value. But, most importantly, the team has built a brand based on community impact and female empowerment.
To quote SMA CEO Paula Beadle during her recent 7in7 interview with Smith on Angel City FC’s accomplishments, “wow!”
The club is leading the way in developing transformative, purpose-driven partnerships.
“It’s been an incredible journey to be a part of, certainly one that, I think, brings out the best in what that opportunity is in our industry in total,” Smith said. “To be able to do that with the upward trajectory of women’s sports, to fight toward equity, is unbelievable.”
The organization was born out of the Time’s Up movement. Smith said Natalie Portman understood the inequities at the national team level and went looking for answers. She approached Abby Wambach and asked, “what can I do to help?”
“Really what came from that is starting an organization, starting a team that’s the see it, be it that breaks down all the barriers around the inequities and showcases tangible ways that consumers and brands and the league, etc. can move this forward and really fight toward equity,” Smith said.
How does Angel City FC accomplish that? Well, it starts with its three pillars: Equity, Essentials and Education.
When it comes to equity, “we exist to combat pay equity. But equity is a bigger word than that to us. We exist to provide a level playing field for everyone we can possibly reach and do that for, whether that’s the Black community, people of color, the LGBTQ community, those with disabilities, etc.,” Smith said. “We believe in an equitable world and using our platform to reach that.”
The essentials pillar is about more than just sport. Angel City FC is working to ensure people in the community have their basic needs met. “You’ll see us do work with food security, housing security, mental wellness, to make sure we’re thinking about that side as well as the essential of sport, which we also find so important,” she said.
Finally, education is about being a participant in the important conversations happening both in the community in across the country.
“With the recent Supreme Court decision on Roe vs. Wade, we very much leaned into that we believe reproductive rights are healthcare rights,” Smith said. “That’s who we are as Angel City. We are going to do everything we can to educate the world, bring people into our ecosystem to understand that and, hopefully, garner that health equity that is important to us moving forward.”
Angel City FC is a team with a purpose. The club’s mission is resonating with both brands and consumers. “Purposeful does not mean we’re a nonprofit,” Smith said. “Purpose and profitability can go hand-in-hand. We think it’s our responsibility as a profitable business to also lead with purpose and use that platform.”
There is no doubt Angel City FC has found the sweet spot between purpose and profitability. It is truly inspiring to see a franchise build success around a mission of community impact and female empowerment.