Tag Archives: NBA

Information is Currency

Anyone familiar with Commissioner David Stern of the NBA knows that the term “information is currency” is a very important mantra of his. It is his belief that information about every aspect of your organization, information about other organizations with which you compete, information about what programs, initiatives or projects are working—or not working—all of this information is the same as currency. And the more information that you have and hold, the richer you are!

In other words, the more key facts and data you are able to assemble regarding all aspects of your own organization and processes, your competition, and prevailing market conditions, the smarter you are and the better your organization’s planning and decision-making will be.

Well known management consultant Peter Drucker said, “My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.” One of the driving forces behind successful companies is the notion that the relentless search for data and information—and the encouragement within an organization to take whatever time is needed to ask the right questions—is as important, if not more important, than the answers that follow.

As a nonprofit fundraiser, where the competition for charitable dollars is fierce and where there are always more requests than there are gifts, it is even more critical that members of a nonprofit development team be prepared and armed with as much key information and data as possible in advance of approaching and meeting with a potential donor.

If I am in the process of approaching a potential donor with a gift proposal, either to my own organization or to an organization I am representing, and in advance of a meeting with that potential donor, pieces of information that may be of benefit to me might include:

  • Is this person known for his/her philanthropic giving? Does (s)he have a history of giving?
  • What types of causes or organizations have they supported in the past? Is there a trend or pattern to the type of causes they have supported?
  • In regard to their past giving, is there information about how much they have given? How much in total, and how much in individual gifts?
  • Is his/her spouse or family involved in the charitable giving? Is multi-generational philanthropic giving important to the family?
  • Is the donor apt to participate and provide support beyond the actual donation? Does (s)he often sit on boards, or does the donor participate in on-the-ground volunteer efforts?
  • Does the person tend to seek recognition for the support (s)he provides, or does the donor eschew publicity surrounding his/her gifts?
  • Does it appear the donor’s gift had the intended impact and results? Was the charitable endeavor a success?
  • Has the donor ever been involved in a charitable gift or initiative that was not deemed successful? And why?
  • Does the mission or purpose of your organization present any present any philosophical or political obstacles that would stand in the way of the potential donor giving?

While the process of identifying a potential donor, making the actual donation proposal, and receiving the formal commitment of a gift may often take many twists and turns, the road is far more manageable with solid information and preparation. It is far better to be over-prepared and not have to use the information you have gathered than to be under-prepared and find yourself in an awkward or uncomfortable situation where you are thinking to yourself, “I should have know that information before I walked in the door!”

Information is indeed currency, no matter the task or the assignment, and the more we have accumulated, the more successful we will be.

Next Installment: Step #4: Identify your prospects

This is the third part of a 10-part series The Only Difference is Zeros: 10 Steps to Improved Nonprofit Development and Fundraising

-Don Stirling

2 Comments

Filed under Better Fundraising and Development, Initiative: Nonprofit Operations

The Only Difference is Zeros

10 Steps to Improved Nonprofit Development and Fundraising

In 1984, as part of the first real job of my career, I had just come to New York City and joined NBA Properties, the official licensing arm of the National Basketball Association. In Denver that year, we were about to introduce to the basketball world a new concept—the NBA All-Star Weekend. Back then it was to include two showcase events—the Slam-Dunk Championship and what we called then, the Old Timers Game. (Soon after we found that our participants in that game preferred we call it the Legends Game!).

My responsibilities that year included putting together a shoe deal for those participating in the Old Timers Game. We identified a provider and put a deal together that, at the time, seemed like huge dollars. The shoe provider would provide the shoes and $5,000! But, if more than 13 of the 24 participants would actually wear the sneakers during the game, NBA Properties would be paid $7,500. As only 11 of the players actually wore the shoes in the first half, I actually went into both locker rooms at halftime and aggressively campaigned for two more players to wear the shoes the second half—thus earning us an additional $2,500! Days not soon forgotten.

Flash forward to 1997, and I am now serving as the managing director of marketing for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. I am now participating in sponsorship presentations where the asking price is $50,000,000. Many times it was not lost on me that certainly some things had changed from the $5,000 asks to now the $50,000,000 asks. And yet, in taking a closer look, the development/fundraising process was, for both asks, very, very similar. The only difference is the zeros!

Over the coming weeks, now having spent over 25 years in the fundraising/development/sponsorship world, I will be sharing what I have come to see as 10 Steps to Improved Nonprofit Development and Fundraising. Steps that I have come to trust and use along the way, and which have served me well—from the NBA to Children’s Miracle Network to the Massachusetts Sports & Film Partnership to Operation Kids. Hopefully this list of steps will be of value to you as you pursue development and fundraising activities for the organization you represent.

Step #1: Love what you do and love who you represent!

Before you embark on any capital campaign, annual fundraising effort, donor program or revenue-generating activity, make sure you are passionate about the organization you represent, energized about the services and impact your organization provides, and that you flat-out love what you are doing. With so much competition for individual or family donor dollars, foundation dollars, or corporate dollars, the very first impression that the person you are presenting to needs to know and feel, is that you, as a representative of your organization, has a true passion and burning emotion for that which you are presenting and offering.

If you don’t truly care about the mission and purpose of the organization you are representing, and the services and assistance they provide, why should the person you are presenting to care either?

You have to have it inside of you. It needs to burn…not real hot some days and cooler other days. That passion for your organization and what it stands for and provides must burn steady, and burn bright. That passion for what you do and who you represent must be that “special sauce” that gets you out of bed everyday, and inspires you, day in and day out, to work hard, to prepare and to compete.

Without it, potential donors partners will see through you and will likely share in your transparent disinterest. With it, potential donors will say to themselves, “There is something deeper going on here and I need to find out more.” Before a person believes in your organization and your mission, they first must believe in you.

Next Week:    Step #2: Define who you are, what you are, what you can provide, and what you are offering!

-Don Stirling

7 Comments

Filed under Better Fundraising and Development, Initiative: Nonprofit Operations

Highlights from the ProSports Team Challenge

The first annual ProSports Team Challenge proved to be all that was advertised, and much more! The venue was beautiful, the celebrities were gracious and the hospitality of the Fantasy Springs was remarkable.

But the surprise was this – the tournament was truly exciting!

At this point we cannot reveal the winners until the event airs on Fox Sports. But to peak your interest, the professional hockey team opens the event as the favored team…and they are very good. But if you know your sports legends, you know that the MLB team and the NFL team, hosts some very, very good golfers; and NBA players can never be counted out of a tournament.
Whatever you may be doing on June 28-29, get some friends together, check your local Fox Sports listing, make your projections and tune in to this event. When you put 16 professional athletes on a golf course with a purse at stake, the competitive instincts kick in and you are in for a treat. I will leave it at that!


1 Comment

Filed under Corporate giving, Initiative: Children's Issues