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