March Madness Brackets for Fundraisers
After a winter to remember, we can finally turn our attention to something positive and exciting. This week, 68 NCAA Division I men's and 64 women's basketball teams began or are about to begin competing in the annual championship tournament ritual. These tournaments will be filled with surprises, upsets and great entertainment. It doesn't matter who is favored. No one knows who will win the championship until the last game.
All of the teams selected by the tournament committees come in different shapes and sizes. Some are large schools from powerful conferences. Smaller schools are chosen at times from weaker conferences. Each school has already achieved a level of success just to get into the tournament.
Have you ever thought of how you could relate this concept to your fundraising program?
Think of walking into your development conference room with a large bracket on the wall facing you. You see 68 donor prospects on the board. The ultimate goal of this process is to move these prospects in such a way to maximize their time, talent and treasure for the benefit of the organization you serve. These prospects are chosen through research. Some are picked via their online or direct-mail activity. Others are picked through special events, grant potential, net worth ability, linkage plus ability and interest. Still others are chosen through major-gift history, planned-giving intentions and other possibilities.
All of these prospects come from different geographical areas — areas of focus and characteristics that make them viable. On your development team of annual-, major- and planned-gift staff "coaches," these prospect pairings are rated and strategies for success formed. There is a reason they were selected for this scenario.
Just as the basketball tournament is unpredictable, so too is your prospect challenge. You do not know which prospects will be winners or losers. But, you will seek to move them from prospect to donor and eventually larger donor.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last nine years and has had the CFRE designation for the last 25 years. He has also been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for over 35 years. He received his doctorate from West Virginia University with an emphasis in philanthropy, masters from Marshall University with an emphasis on resource development and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with emphasis in marketing/management. Currently he is executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org.