It’s that time of year – basketball every night! The games get better and better. Fans are loyal, excited and stressed. People on the east coast stay up way too late. Everyone is wearing their team’s logo. The playoffs are on! If you’re a fundraising fanatic you are inspired as you imagine your fundraising team performing with the precision of your favorite basketball team.
In the NBA the coach develops a game plan. In fundraising, it’s the fundraising plan, strategic plan, business plan – or a combination of these – that serve as the game plan.
Before each crucial game NBA coaches scout their opponent. In fundraising, you prepare by researching potential donors. What are their interests and philanthropic priorities? Their current – or prior! – relationship to your organization? Don’t take your team onto the court unprepared!
Good coaching is key to both the NBA and fundraising. Basketball teams have a head coach: in fundraising coaching can come from consultants or the chief development person.
Great teams have loyal fan bases who are with them whether they are up or down. These fans believe in the team, their talents, resources and ability to prevail. With fundraising, there is a constituency that believes in your case. They feel you have all the elements to succeed, or that you are getting there. As in basketball, good fundraising teams feed off the energy. The community gives to your campaign, introduces new donors and encourages you to be successful.
Basketball teams reward their fans with fan appreciation gifts and events. You need to do the same. It’s called stewardship.
Good teams practice, practice and practice. Good fundraising programs are always educating, training, and orienting their leadership, staff and volunteers. They consistently communicate, sharing an easy-to-understand message and clear examples of impact. They don’t take anything for granted.
Basketball teams are big on stats: the number of points, how they compare with the competition or prior years. Same in fundraising. It’s time to get big on data: use it to compare your activities and results. Review it closely, make adjustments to your strategies and tactics and increase the odds of meeting your goal.
Let’s talk about recruiting. NBA teams have scouts out on grade school courts – or so it seems. What about your organization? What is your recruiting strategy? Where will your talent come from? You need more than one superstar: you need a winning team. How are you cultivating your next fundraising hires, your new board members and advisors? And don’t stop at scouting: winning teams keep their top talent. You know what that means: time to invest in building and reinforcing your current talent and helping them to be the best they can.
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.