Good Sport

Mar 27, 2024

The real March Madness is realizing that March ends this week and 25% of your fundraising year is over. Yikes! I told you not to blink! 2024 is flying by. Only 273 shopping days left until Christmas. But, never fear, there is plenty of time to meet those fundraising goals—especially if you learn a thing or two from all that the actual March Madness has to teach us.

Most of my travel time I find myself listening to a variety of podcasts. I like to take those moments to learn a thing or two. This week I was listening to an old pod from WorkLife with Adam Grant—you should check it out. This episode was not one I usually partake in, but the current college basketball hype inspired me. Grant interviewed sportswriter, Jody Avirgan. No offense to Jody, but it was the first I'd ever heard of him! Jody is the host of Good Sport and has a knack for describing how sports can make us think differently about every part of our lives. Sports are a great metaphor. If you practice some of their fundamentals, you too can draw some vital lessons from sports that can be successfully applied to your nonprofit marketing life.

College Basketball Sport GIF by Basketball Madness

Here are a few vital lessons that I’ve observed:

Cross-Platform Marketing:  The biggest brands aren’t ballin’ on a budget when it comes to March Madness. They typically spare no expense counting on the fact that the millions of viewers that see their content will buy their product. But even those with the boldest of budgets know that cross-platform marketing is where it’s at.  Yes, you’ll see commercials, but you’ll also see articles, videos, social media posts, and possibly even some magazine or newspaper copy. Usually, they’ll take the content they’ve created and re-invent it for a variety of publishing purposes.

Cross-platform marketing word concepts banner Vector Image

Lesson to Learn:  Meet your donors where they are. You might not have a budget big enough to do it all. The good news is, you don’t have to! You know where your donors are. Maybe they read the newspaper. Perhaps they’re on Facebook. They might be email readers or mailbox openers! You can still market across platforms, as your budget allows. It never hurts if they see your message in more than one place—as long as you find them, wherever they are perusing content.

Where's Waldo? -

Fanatics:  There’s nothing that brings about fan loyalty than stiff competition. Brackets all over the world are filled out by people who pick their team, even if their team is an underdog. There’s something to be said about rooting for the home team. After all, they’ve already bought the t-shirt, made the 7-layer dip, and chilled the beer. Those loyal fans might as well throw a party and scream at the television. Apparently, that helps!

Lesson to Learn:  There’s just something about donor loyalty. Those donors love you when you’re up and they stick up for you when you’re down. They tell their friends about you and they support you year in and year out. They are die-hard donors and you need more of them! Donor loyalty can be defined in many ways, but I like to define it this way:  Donors who give to you multiple times per year, no matter what the amount. Statistics show that these loyal donors are the one most likely to leave you a major gift at the end of life or leave you in their will or estate plan. So, make like a basketball team build up a loyal following.

Royalty Free Loyalty Clip Art, Vector Images & Illustrations - iStock

Underdogs:  Speaking of underdogs, everyone loves one! Even if you love the powerhouse winner, there is something to be said for the team that has a story, the one who has been fighting with all their might to make a name for themselves. Even when they beat your team, you aren’t completely heartbroken. After all, the underdog story is always a good one and you feel like they deserve it. Perhaps we root for the underdog because we can all relate to underdog qualities. There’s just something about David beating Goliath that makes us feel like all is right with the world after all.

Lesson to Learn:  You might be small, but your mighty. You might not need to raise $1M annually, but the $500,000 or $250,000 or $100,000 you do raise makes a difference in your little corner of the world. The $5,000 a donor contributes to your organization is game-changing; that might not be the case if they give to a national org. Don’t fight it. Embrace your underdogginess! (Yes, I hereby declare that a word!)

Free Underdog Cliparts, Download Free Underdog Cliparts png images ...

Lean into the Madness:  Famous marketing brands leverage the fact that everyone is talking about basketball this time of year. Heck, my office isn’t very sportsy, but we still cut apart all the team names and did a drawing to create our brackets. There is absolutely no thought to it. Not even team color, mascot, or font is considered! We’re just joining in on the fun with a Starbucks gift card for the lucky (literally) winner.  These brands know what the world is buzzing about right now and they follow suit.

Lesson to be Learned:  Lean in to current events to relate to your donors, too.  Sure, maybe they don’t really care about March Madness—that’s fine. But they might care about Easter or Spring or Graduation or Veteran’s Day.  You know that feeling you get when you go to Target during any change in seasons? Sure, you didn’t really need that charcuterie board shaped like a bunny, but you bought it, didn’t you? We like a change of season, and we love a reason to celebrate—everyone does. So, use those ‘seasons’ as a way to connect to your donors.

Although I’d never heard Jody Avirgan’s Good Sport show before this podcast, I think I might like it. There’s something to be said about applying lessons from those who experience success to whatever it is you’re doing—nonprofit marketing, for example. Sure, you will have to scale it down to meet your needs and your budget. Look at it this way. Big brands like Nike have huge research and development teams. They have high-paid marketers who have the funding to do just about anything they’d like. And because of this, they know what works and what doesn’t work. You don’t have that, but you can learn from their examples. Take a page out of their playbook and go to the school of marketing via March Madness. It might make you think differently about how you approach your own marketing plans. #GoSports

 Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily,

[email protected]
dawn brown creative, llc. 

P.S. Fundraising is hard, even though you make it look
oh-so easy! ♥

Frideas--Friday ideas are filled with
info and inspo!

Want to participate in some Knowledge Generosity,
here's your opportunity!

What do you do with an idea?  You change the world!

Get a Fridea: a Friday idea!

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join my mailing list to receive the latest news, updates, and ideas for days!

Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

I seriously hate SPAM, like for real.

So, I promise to never sell your information, for any reason.