It’s that time of year again—March Madness. Diehard college basketball fans are pulling out their team jerseys. College alumni are gathering to cheer on their alma maters. Even those who don’t typically get excited about basketball are filling out brackets with their colleagues.
Why is it that we all go “mad” in March, especially those of us who haven’t watched a game of basketball since the previous spring? Have the regular fans finally gotten us excited? Do we suddenly realize that basketball season is in progress and feel a need to get our fix before it’s over? Is “Basketball Fever” an actual disease that is prevalent this time of year?
Perhaps the true reason is the fact that sports bring people together. Whether it be basketball, football, swimming, or even curling, something about the camaraderie and being part of a team inspires and engages people. When collegiate sports fans come to events, many times, they are silently raising their hands, asking to be further engaged. Development professionals should relish these events as a way to engage current and potential donors, as well as disconnected alumni.
To make the most of your next sporting event, consider the following strategy:
1. Learn, Practice, and Master the Fundamentals
Like any great athlete knows, one of the keys to success is perfecting the basic skills. If you need to brush up on your development expertise, attend a training workshop or review your past materials and notes. Roleplay with a colleague. Log in to myAR and explore the video and print resources or e-Learning modules.
2. Create a Game Plan
Prior to an event, determine who will most likely be in attendance, where they currently are on the Donor Commitment Continuum, and how you can advance them to the right. Keep in mind that if an alum or donor is at your event, they are at least in the Awareness stage. Visit myAR to access the Donor Commitment Chart.
3. Coach Your Players
All good teams consist of multiple players who know their specific roles—and so should yours. Identify the key roles of all involved, including coaches, athletic directors, and even student athletes. All can play a critical role in deepening a donor’s engagement and should be prepared with the skills needed to succeed in doing so.
4. Play the Game
Now that you’ve practiced the fundamentals and developed a strategy, you are ready to connect with alumni, as well as other potential and current donors. As a development professional, it is your job to connect them to your organization in ways that are meaningful to them.
Now, go for the win!