The Brackets For Good Highlights blog is used to showcase the impact our participating organizations and sponsors have on their communities, share proven nonprofit fundraising advice, and provide updates on our March fundraising tournaments.

2017 MVP: First Time Donors!

Posted on December 27, 2017 by Jen Marcuson

This month we are looking back at the unsung MVP of the 2017 BFG tournaments: The First-Time Donor (FTD).

We logged a dizzying 31,898 donations throughout the 2017 tournaments from over 14,000 donors and across over 500 participating nonprofits. Over 8,600 of these donations came from donors who identified as not having ever donated to the nonprofit that they were supporting in the tournament before. These FTDs packed a big punch, scoring over 640,000 points across all tournaments at an average of 74 points per donation.


Who are FTDs?

First-time donors skewed female, Millennial and Generation Z aged, and came from far and wide, representing over 1,300 towns and cities, in every state in the union.  

2017 demographics graphic

Where did they score
Our new expansion markets faired the best with FTDs, with over 34% of the number of donations in the new markets coming in from FTDs. The veteran tournament still held strong, with 28% of donations registering from new donors. Even Indianapolis, our longest-running tournament, had a 29% new donor rate in 2017.

Younger nonprofits (under 10 years of operating age) fared slightly better than more established nonprofits in attracting FTDs in the tournament. These younger nonprofits collected 34% of their donations from new donors vs. 30% of longer-running nonprofits. Almost 10,000 transactions were processed from FTDs to these younger nonprofits, helping establish and support them both in the tournament and in their overall missions.

The top cause categories for the FTDs were Arts, Culture & Humanities; Youth Development; and Human Services, all top categories overall for BFG donors. The single nonprofit that collected the most individual FTD donations was Get Schooled, from the USA tournament, with 211 donations (or 21% of their total donation count) coming from new supporters.  The nonprofit that scored the most FTD points was Allied Arts, also of the USA tournament. Over $104,000 or 29% of all their points scored came from FTDs- and helped them secure the USA championship and the big $100,000 prize!

Brackets For Good 2017 tournament logos


When did they score?
The first round of the tournament easily leads the way with the highest number of first-time donations scored for nonprofits. With so many nonprofit competitors, it casts a wide net of interest and attraction for new philanthropists to get in the game. As the rounds progressed, the number of first-time donors decreased, however the amount those new supporters gave did not – in fact as the championship round heated up, rookie donors came in hard, with an average of $221 dollars raised per donation, compared to $46 in the first round.

rnd 1 vs championship rnd first time donor amounts graphic

There is no doubt that raising new awareness and support is one of our most important focuses at BFG. We are so proud of our amazing FTD MVPs and we cannot wait to see how many more we can help attract to your missions in 2018!

Posted in Brackets For Good, Fundraising, Nonprofit Story

Top 10 Reasons to Register for Brackets For Good

Posted on December 01, 2017 by Rachel Purviance


We miss watching Hoosier-native David Letterman and his famous Top 10 lists so we decided to channel our inner Dave by creating our own – Top 10 Reasons Nonprofits Need to Register for Brackets For Good! Why wait to get through the Top 10? Register now at https://bfg.org/nonprofits/registration!

We hope you enjoy!

10. Brackets For Good helps to raise awareness of all participating organizations by our own promotion of the tournaments. Through social media, advertisements, public relations and more, we’re working hard to bring more attention – and new donors – to your organization.

9. Brackets For Good provides a pre-written communication plan including press releases and email templates for board members, staff and volunteers, and your supporters. Also included in this communication plan are pre-written social media posts for those same audiences for pre-, during- and post-tournament. That’s right-we make it easy for you to put YOUR best effort on the philanthropic court!

8. Brackets For Good has created a free digital Training Camp to help you up your game in the tournament. Along with these free trainings is access to free resources as well as tools from our friends and partners. Quick training lessons help you understand and activate all the tools and resources you might not otherwise have access to!

7. Since our first tournament in 2012, Brackets For Good has an average of bringing in 31% NEW DONORS to organizations.

6. You only have ONE opponent each week! This piece of the strategy helps to align internal teams from board, staff, volunteers and supporters! Competition makes for stronger teams and playing in Brackets For Good is a sure way to get the team focused on all the good work you do, together!

5. From tip-off at 8 pm until the FINAL buzzer of the Championship round, the shot-clock is ticking 24 hours a day – this constant countdown drives urgency and action among your supporters. Did someone say BUZZER BEATERS!??!

4. Everyone is a player in BFG! One donor, one donation, one dollar can make all the difference!

3. A championship run in Brackets For Good is only 5 weeks long. These 5 weeks give you a unique opportunity to tell different stories from within your organization. Highlighting team members, beneficiaries, loyal supporters, programs, and impact stories of what you can accomplish together will recruit more people to join you and your mission!

2. Brackets For Good is “The Only Sport for Nonprofits” and is uniquely timed to capitalize on the Nation’s obsession with college basketball. Only our brackets help your causes to continue to do incredible work!

1. Brackets For Good is just FUN! The nature of competitive sport, the energy of the final buzzer, and the ability for all of us to participate in making a difference makes this a fundraising opportunity you can’t miss! Join Brackets For Good and together we can build a stronger community!

Okay, now we are 100% sure you’re ready to get in the game! Register for Fundraising Madness before the final buzzer sounds! https://bfg.org/nonprofits/registration

Posted in Brackets For Good

120 Days from the 2018 Tip-Off!

Posted on October 26, 2017 by Rachel Purviance

The BFG Coaches are busy prepping for the 2018 season! Matt & Matt are stretching their hammies in between sprints, Reid has been pumping the iron, Mo is busy calculating stats and Rachel is lining up her favorite cheers!

Rachel cheering

March 2nd will get here before we know it! We want to make sure that all of our Registered Nonprofits are prepared for their play in Fundraising Madness.

Here are some pro-tips to help get your head in the game!

– If you haven’t already, follow Brackets For Good on all our social media accounts. Leading up to and during Tournament Time, our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts will be your first stop for updates and scores. We’re also on LinkedIn and YouTube!

We have also added a Roster Page in your Nonprofit Locker Room! Check out this video to learn more about the Roster Page. Get in there today and start inviting folks to your team Roster!

If you are new to Brackets For Good or need some help getting your co-workers or board excited about BFG, share our Brand New Overview Video! This video should help explain how the tournament works and hopefully get your team excited! If they would rather have a physical document to look at, we have that too! Download here.

A few things to remember…

Just in case you missed our September Mini-Game with updates of things to come in 2018, here are just a few that we can share with you! We’re always working to make BFG better and we have some exciting things in the works but here are a few items we want you to know right now.

-Community Teammates! Community Teammates are now BFG-wide for 2018. We’re excited to share even more with you soon about Community Teammates but in summary, Community Teammates are a corporate partner dedicated to YOUR organization to help your cause in the tournament. Community Teammate relationships can take many forms whether that support is financial, promotional or both!

-Coming soon in the Playbook: We’ll be sharing easy-to-implement strategies to help you have a successful tournament run. Get pumped for those!

-Nonprofit Locker Room Under Construction: We’re also going to be re-organizing the Nonprofit Locker Room to make it easier to navigate and to create a better experience for you!

-We often get questions asking about how Nonprofits are selected to participate. If we could, we would love to have an endless bracket and allow everyone to participate! However right now we’re loving the setup of 64 teams competing. We have all the answers to your Bracketology questions right here.

Finally, we want to make sure that you’re aware of the Season Schedule update. We’ve pushed some deadlines back a bit and made our tournament start on the first Friday in March.

Here is your Official Brackets For Good 2018 Season Schedule!

2018 Season Schedule

Want an even better way to make sure you don’t miss anything important in the Wonderful World of BFG? Add our 2018 Season Calendar to yours! Our BFG season calendar has all of the above dates on it, but we have also added some tips on when you should start thinking about and creating your strategy. Think of it as having Champ sitting on your shoulder giving you encouragement during your Tournament Prep Time!

Add the 2018 Brackets For Good Calendar to yours now by clicking the Google calendar image in the bottom right-hand corner of the calendar!

Posted in Brackets For Good

All Star Spotlight: From the Basketball Court to the Giving Court

Posted on September 27, 2017 by Rachel Purviance

Summer Search

The 2017 USA tournament was a big first for BFG – a coast-to-coast philanthropic contest pitting large national organizations with huge star power against each other for a $100,000 championship prize. While BFG has traditionally operated on the local level, the national tournament was a chance to showcase our Fundraising Madness on a large scale.

One energetic competitor in the tournament was Summer Search – an organization whose mission is to help low-income teenagers develop the skills they need to become college educated leaders who give back to their families and communities.  Summer Search was a perfect candidate for the USA tournament since they have locations in several US cities and a former collegiate basketball player on staff! Game on!

Stephanie Davis, National Senior Development Associate with Summer Search and former college basketball player for Beloit College confirmed for us that there are definitely similarities between college basketball and Brackets For Good. She said, “hours and hours of preparation were necessary for success in BFG, just like the hours you need to put in practicing in order to run plays correctly, hit a game winning jumper, or have the endurance to make it through an entire game. The final few hours of each round in the BFG tournament definitely gave me the same kind of adrenaline rush that I would get during games! I’d never experienced that kind of heart-pounding excitement in fundraising before.” Aha! We thought so!

On coaching her staff for the tournament, Stephanie reported that it was easy to get everyone on the same page because she had a spectacular, hard-working team, who were all dedicated to the same goal and willing to put in the extra effort in order to succeed. Their strategy was to divide the workload in ways that played to individual strengths. Stephanie said that she just pointed her teammates in the right direction, and let them do what they do best.

While Summer Search ultimately did not win the USA tournament, they made it to the Engaged Eight round, and brought in over $30,000 for their programs. Their average donation amount and average number of times a supporter donated to their run was well above the tournament average. Clearly inspired to give and give again, their supporters brought the points round after round. Stephanie stated that this was due to the incredible staff participation and amazing support from their Board of Directors, who spread the word among their networks and made their own gifts to help them advance.  She reported that the intensity of the competition definitely brought everyone together and made for a rich and memorable experience.  She recalled, “Once the buzzer sounded and the points were calculated, those cheers of victory were the best!”

Their final round in the tournament was a close one – in a match-up that scored over 12,000 points per competitor, Summer Search missed a spot in the Philanthropic Four by only 111 points.  Stephanie said, “That was such a heart breaker! It really did feel like we were beaten by a game-winning jumper. I’ve relived that round multiple times, and would definitely make a few game-plan changes if we could do it all over. One change is that we should’ve asked for a larger gift earlier in the round to see how the competition responded. We definitely learned not to sleep on anybody, especially when it comes to Buzzer Beaters!”

Summer Search score

Oh, Buzzer Beaters? Well since you brought them up….
Stephanie said, “Next year I’d like to see more 3-pointers in the 2018 tournament – and I’m partial to 3-pointers since this was my forte as a player! But a good team always has something up their sleeve! Buzzer Beaters definitely kept us on the edge of our seats and required some fast math in those exhilarating final seconds of each round.”

Posted in Brackets For Good, Fundraising, Nonprofit Story

All-Star Spotlight: “Community Teammate”– Morales Group and Exodus Refugee Immigration #Dreamteam

Posted on August 28, 2017 by Jen Marcuson

Exodus Refugee Immigration Morales Group

Brackets For Good introduced a new strategic feature to the 2017 Indianapolis tournament: The Community Teammate. Designed to pair local businesses with participating nonprofits to help them increase their reach and strengthen their competitiveness in the tournament, the program raised the stakes and essentially created two teams carrying the ball for each nonprofit – but it didn’t mean anyone got any extra bench time!

One such partnership, between Exodus Refugee Immigration and Morales Group Staffing, was definitely a slam dunk. Morales, a staffing firm that focuses on the local immigrant population, has been recognized as one of the fastest growing Hispanic owned businesses in America and one of the best places to work in Indiana. Their BFG nonprofit teammate, Exodus, has been working to resettle refugees in Indianapolis for over 30 years. Pairing up for the tournament was a natural extension of their ongoing relationship.

The two organizations have been working together for many years, working to secure job placements for refugee clients. The desire for Morales to become a Community Teammate came out of the spirit of their Community Outreach program. Monique Charlebois, Director of Human Resources with Morales, stated, “We live our mission every day. We want to build better futures and we want to do that with our partnerships.”  Morales’ outreach includes financially supporting organizations in their community but also provides a deeper level of commitment and activity, including encouraging employees to do at least 25 hours a year of volunteer work, some of which is on company time. Cole Varga, Executive Director of Exodus, wholeheartedly agrees, “This organization walks the walk. They really care about this population.”

CEO Tom Morales said that when they signed up to be in the BFG Teammate program they specifically asked if Exodus had a partner. Once they were paired up, dedicated staff were assigned to work with the Director of Development at Exodus, Liz Standiford, and together they created a strategy with the ultimate goal of winning the tournament. They also wanted to ensure Exodus raised at least $35-$40,000, a huge increase over previous years’ totals for the organization, but a goal they surpassed, raising $44,000 and making it to the Engaged Eight round.

Amanda Franklin, Branding and Digital Strategy at Morales, revealed one in-house engagement tactic they used; the Lids Free Throw points. Earning $2-$3 just for filling out your donor profile was easy and they earned over $100 from doing that. She noted, “It was also a good opportunity for the staff to get a better understanding of what the tournament is about.”

The two organizations came together to create shared social media messages and strategized their Friday night round-end plans together. Each Friday, Morales, Exodus, or the unofficial third partner, Luna Language Services, hosted a party for staff, volunteers, board members, and friends of each organization. Morales hosted the first week, treating everyone to food, the live BFG feed, and a silent auction of donated goods to help raise more money to put toward the last seconds of the round. Each week as they progressed, video feed of the cheering partygoers would be shared online after the round close.

While they worked closely together, they did not work alone. Tom revealed that a key strategy was reaching out to other affiliated organizations, such as Luna. “Overall, we realized there was no reason not to share in the fun!” he added, “I’m not just talking about the financial piece. It was something very different, so that was the first step – how can we reach out and make it entertaining for everybody.” Monique confirmed, “We definitely strengthened our connection with Luna. For many of us that would go to the events, it was good to get to know other organizations that are also so passionate about this.”

Morales acknowledged that their round-by-round budget occasionally got thrown by the wayside due to the fierce competitiveness amongst the team. Tom said, “I honestly believe that had I been there during our final round, we would have gone over because I wasn’t going to lose! I think it’s really important to note, every time I did give, I didn’t feel like I was buying something. It felt like I was giving to something that was really going to be for the greater good.”

The two organizations share an easy camaraderie, joking back and forth about the tense end-of-round moments they shared. The tournament partnership played a role in creating this level of comfort. Monique commented, “Coming together on the Friday nights, and getting to know the team better, it was a lot of fun. We encouraged people to come by giving them volunteer hours for coming.” Cole agreed, “For some of our non-employment staff who don’t interact with Morales all the time, it was nice to have them here and give them a chance to interact.”

Amanda noted the importance of being invested in your partner. She said, “I don’t think it would have been nearly as successful had we been partnered with someone that we hadn’t had a relationship with. A lot of work goes in behind the scenes, and you’re working very closely together. I would definitely recommend that if someone is going to do this, they partner with someone they have a connection with.”

When asked if they would participate again, Monique was quick to jump in, “Absolutely we would do it again! It is such a great cause and it is so much fun. I would advocate for anyone being a teammate to one of the organizations. As soon as it was over, we were thinking about how we were going to do things differently next year. It was a great way to collaborate, be team players, and support a good cause.” Tom added, “Had the competition not been there, I don’t think we would have raised the same amount at all. I think it was the strategic, competitive component that really got us going.”

And of course, when asked about their Buzzer Beater strategy, everyone agreed… “We won’t reveal it!”

Posted in Brackets For Good, Indianapolis, Nonprofit Story, Sponsor Story

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