Championship Rings… What Fundraising can Learn from Professional Sports

Every major sport the world over culminates in some form of championship.  Here in North America we have the National Football League that has the Super Bowl.  The National Hockey League awards the Stanley Cup.  Major League Baseball has the World Series and the National Basketball Association claims World Champions (but if you ask me, both of these are misnomers because they don’t really play against the World).

It’s widely known that the championship team receives a trophy and that each player on a winning team receives a championship ring.  These tend to be big, gaudy, completely impractical, diamond-studded affairs that cost well into the thousands of dollars.  In fact, the National Football League buys 150 rings for the Super Bowl champions each year and pays up to $7,000 per ring!

Less well known is the fact that these championship rings are given to people throughout the organization.  People like coaches, trainers, scouts, front-office staff, and even cheerleaders receive a ring in recognition of their efforts towards the team’s overall success.  Case in point, the Chicago Blackhawks gives a championship ring to their National Anthem singer, Jim Cornelison, who now has three!

The point is: they get it.  These professional teams clearly understand that the players are merely the focal point of a much larger, yet less obvious, team.  It’s not just the players in the game.  It’s not just the coaches. Championships come from every person in the organization sharing in and working towards a common goal.

So what’s this got to do with fundraising…an important lesson.

With our clients, we continually reinforce the notion of a “culture of philanthropy.”  I first heard this phrase in 1989 in a speech by then ACB Chief Executive, Jim Biggins.  Jim’s point was that in order for development to be successful there must be understanding, support, effort, and buy-in from every level of an organization. The way a receptionist answers the phone (you know when someone’s unhappy by their tone, don’t you) to the consistency of vision by the CEO to a staff member working with a client all play a direct and vital role in donor experience and development’s ability to perform.

Remember, it may be development’s responsibility to raise funds but it’s everyone’s responsibility to help development be successful.  Over the next several editions of the Bureau News, ACB will produce a series of articles on what it means and how to and move your organization towards a true culture of philanthropy.

2016-11-02T23:12:02+00:00 July 9th, 2016|