Author Archives: Jennifer Marcuson
Posted on April 20, 2017 by Jen Marcuson
The Brackets For Good 2017 Champions post-game press conference: get the scoop on all the game-winning plays.
🏆 USA (National)
- Champion: Allied Arts
- Raised: $440,004.83
- Mission: Enriching Our Communities Through Advancement of the Arts.
- How they lit up the scoreboard: “We had brand new donors, and that’s always great. We also had loyal donors, and we had corporate partners that gave more because there was this opportunity to double their dollars. Having that $100,000 prize out there as an opportunity really helped our corporate donors say, ‘let’s get in on this!’.”
🏆 Ann Arbor
- Champion: Community Action Network
- Raised: $42,706.44
- Mission: Community Action Network partners with children, youth and families from under-resourced Washtenaw County neighborhoods to create better futures for themselves and to improve the communities in which they live.
- How they lit up the scoreboard: “Brackets For Good gave us a way to reconnect with old donors and a way to connect with new donors to raise a lot of money for our organization when we desperately needed it.”
- Champion: I AM O’KAH!
Mission: The mission of I AM O’KAH! is to empower all youth to unlock their greatest potential: through mentorship, scholarships and programs that help them navigate through socio-economic barriers to success.
- Raised: $30,477.03
- How they lit up the scoreboard: “Brackets For Good increased our outreach to first-time donors and allowed us to spread awareness about the organization to people who didn’t previously know about us.”
- Champion: NS Cares
Mission: The vision of NS Cares is to ignite progress and growth throughout the insurance industry through acts of kinds in our communities.
- Raised: $37,402.93
- How they lit up the scoreboard: “Brackets For Good not only brings in new donors and connects you to your current donor base but also connects you with other organizations you might not be aware of, and you might have future opportunities for partnership.”
- Champion: Promise Ranch Therapeutic Riding
Mission: Promise Ranch encourages individuals of all abilities, including Veterans, to reach their full potential by providing safe, supportive, and quality Green Care opportunities in our community.
- Raised: $52,718.00
- Game Winning Play: “The tournament created an intense amount of excitement within our community, with our clients, our volunteers, and also new donors. That was really amazing and thrilling for us.”
- How they lit up the scoreboard: “This competition really gave us a chance to come together as a staff, with our board, and with our volunteers and clients, and build something from the inside out.”
- Champion: CMHA (Community Mental Health Affiliates)
- Mission: CMHA is a leading provider of an integrated health and behavioral health care system for children, families and adults. By fostering improvement in the quality of life for their clients, CMHA contributes to the well-being of the communities it serves.
- Raised: $53,883.78
- How they lit up the scoreboard: “Brackets For Good was a huge team-building concept for our organization. It brought our organization together; it engaged our employees; it made us feel like a team working together for a common goal.”
- Champion: Brooke’s Place for Grieving Young People
Mission: To serve people living with childhood grief through bereavement programs, advocacy, community education and outreach. Our vision is to ensure that no person living with childhood grief feels alone.
- Raised: $91,460.74
- How they lit up the scoreboard: “Brackets For Good created tremendous awareness about our organization and actually helped families find us who need our services.”
- Champion: Neighborhood House
Mission: Our mission is to provide individuals with opportunities to enhance the quality of their lives. Our vision is to break the cycle of poverty for our children and families.
- Raised: $71,148.83
- How they lit up the scoreboard: “Brackets for Good is a tremendous way to raise awareness for your nonprofit and to really capture the energy going on around March Madness already. If you can harness that power for good and turn it into dollars, that’s wonderful.”
- Champion: Holocaust Documentation & Education Center
- Mission: To document and present an enduring, historically accurate record of the Holocaust through eyewitness accounts by Survivors, Liberators, Rescuers, and others who survived terrifying experiences, overcame fear and grief, and triumphed to live meaningful and productive. To teach people from all walks of life the universal lessons of the Holocaust, through thought-provoking exhibitions and insightful programming, illuminating the catastrophic ramifications of prejudice, racism, stereotyping, and bullying which tragically still occur today. This is accomplished through the cultivation of alliance and cooperation with individuals, organizations and institutions, locally, nationally, and internationally.
- Raised: $32,414.25
- How they lit up the scoreboard: “Brackets For Good really spreads awareness. It also boosts morale, donors become excited, friends want to get engaged, and everyone has lots of fun!”
- Champion: Cottage Cove Urban Ministries
- Mission: To provide educational opportunities and training in the arts through the power and in the name of Jesus Christ.
- Raised: $40,049.70
- How they lit up the scoreboard: “The biggest thing for us was that it was a way to get more people involved early in the year when normally fundraising just doesn’t happen.”
🏆 St. Louis
- Champion: Camp Jump Start
- Mission: Camp Jump Start is a whole health summer camp dedicated to jump start kid success.
- Raised: $106,088.43
- How they lit up the scoreboard: “Brackets For Good gave us a great opportunity to engage all of our staff, donors, and volunteers in order to be a team. Everyone wanted us to win, round after round after round and it got everyone very engaged!”
🏆 Twin Cities
- Champion: Ronald McDonald House Charities, Upper Midwest
Mission: We, in partnership with our community, provide a comfortable and caring home-away-from-home that supports keeping families together and reduces stress during a child’s serious illness.
- Raised: $64,190.07
- Game Winning Play: “The social media presence has been priceless.”
- How they lit up the scoreboard: “Brackets For Good is one of the best ways we’ve had to engage new donors or lapsed donors. The competitive spirit energizes not only our staff, but our donors as well as the philanthropic community.”
Posted on February 25, 2017 by Jen Marcuson
Birge & Held (B&H) is a national apartment real estate, private equity and investment firm located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Since 2008, B&H has acquired and currently manages over $350,000,000 in multi-family assets across the country. Through private equity and creative debt structures, B&H continues to grow its portfolio of assets and generate strong returns for its investors.
B&G is dedicated to creating profitable partnerships with their stakeholders, an enriched work environment for employees, best in class properties for their residents, and opportunities for community involvement. They have a Community Service policy for all employees and encourage continuous philanthropic initiatives. In this spirit, B&G has generously signed up to be a BFG 2017 Indianapolis Community Teammate. They are partnered with the Humane Society of Hamilton County, our 2015 Indianapolis Champion!
We are excited to see what B&H and the Humane Society unleash in the 2017 tournament together.
Posted in Indianapolis
Posted on January 31, 2017 by Jen Marcuson
Maryland New Directions (MND) was introduced to Brackets For Good last year when they received a postcard inviting them to check out the website. It didn’t take them long to realize the value the forthcoming tournament could bring, and they registered to be among the first competitors in the 2017 Baltimore tournament.
Offering no-cost career counseling and job skills training, MND has been serving low-income Baltimore residents for 43 years. They offer a range of training services such as career assessments, mock interviews, one-on-one coaching, and job placement assistance. Being well-versed in professional skills development, it is no surprise that the team at MND has already huddled up and developed a full tournament strategy!
Development Manager Barbara Reed says that the team is busy “getting in game mode” for the upcoming competition. They have already warmed up by creating “Team MND” marketing materials, have drafted local businesses to support their tournament run, and are developing video clips. Most of their tournament playbook is top-secret, but Barbara revealed that they will roll out a “Jump Shot for Jobs” promotion. Everyone from volunteers to board members are being put through the paces in order to be able to spread the word, plan special events, and connect with their supporters.
Barbara reports that they have put the BFG website and locker room tools to good use in creating their game-plan. They have viewed the training materials, taken advantage of the available logos and graphics, and integrated the sample social media posts into their planned messaging. Barbara says that the provided writing samples help them to more clearly articulate what BFG is all about in a consistent manner. Ensuring that everyone is getting the same clear and concise message about BFG will help most effectively encourage their supporters to participate, both locally and across the nation.
MND changes lives through employment. Since 1973, they have worked with nearly 140,000 individuals. As they enter 2017, they do so with hopes to grow their newest Youth Opportunity work initiative, focused on unemployed inner city residents, aged 18-24. If MND was to secure the Baltimore Championship title, the funds would be used to support targeted efforts specifically for that demographic. No matter how far they advance, Barbara says that MND is looking forward to new donors, community support, and a great deal of fun. With only 24 days to go until tip-off, the MND team is in great shape and ready to score early and often!
Posted on December 20, 2016 by Jen Marcuson
First Book is a national organization that aims to close the achievement gap and attain educational equity, by providing kids, classrooms, and communities in need with books and educational resources. First Book Indy, the local Indianapolis chapter of the organization, is committed to providing access to new books for children in need in Marion County and the surrounding counties. This fully volunteer-staffed group has competed in three Indianapolis Brackets For Good tournaments and has raised over $13,000 for their mission.
Despite not having any full-time staff, no budget for promotion, and changes at the national level that resulted in retiring their local website in 2015, they have managed to successfully compete in the tournaments through good organization and planning, leveraging the skills and passion of their volunteers, and utilizing the resources of the national organization whenever possible.
Before the start of each tournament, the local group discussed the competition in their board meetings. Everyone on the board, comprised of about a dozen people, was involved in idea generation. A public relations team of two took over the plans for the social media aspect of the competition. One member planned and scheduled most of the posts, but input came from multiple members, such as the idea for their “unselfie” promotion, which featured facts about literacy. Material from the national website and blog was curated and repurposed for social posts. They also launched a giveaway for donors during a specific week of the tournament. Additionally, members used their own social media accounts to promote First Book to a wider audience and several different members attended BFG events.
They relied on the professional knowledge of their volunteers; their lead for public relations works in the field, and had experience with similar campaigns. They did their research with the content created by the national organization, and planned ahead for the “unselfie” promotion by taking several pictures of board members to use later in the tournament. The national organization also supported them by retweeting some of their Twitter posts and by donating to their giveaway.
Without spending any money specifically for the tournament, and by strategically using Facebook, Twitter, and e-newsletters, as well as leveraging the use of their board and personal networks, they were able to raise awareness about their cause and attract many new donors. Over their 3 years BFG, First Book states that 83% of the donors that came to them through the tournament were new to them. In 2015, their highest-scoring and furthest advancing year, First Book reports that they definitely saw additional benefits from advancing into the second and third rounds.
First book has succeeded by working together as a team and divvying up the tournament responsibilities amongst their members. Everyone in this group owns a share of the points they’ve scored, the supporters they have attracted, and the educational advancement of many children for whom the love of reading will serve them their whole lives.
Posted on November 14, 2016 by Jen Marcuson
The final round of the 2016 BFG Twin Cities tournament came down to Spare Key and The Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial Association (LEMA). Spare Key is an organization that provides assistance to families in crisis with critically ill or seriously injured children. LEMA supports families of fallen law enforcement officers when they have lost their lives in the line of duty. Despite similar missions to assist Minnesota families in need, the two organizations had only a limited knowledge of each other’s work before they found themselves head-to-head, battling it out to become the first Twin Cities champion.
In what was the highest-scoring final round of all the 2016 city tournaments, Spare Key edged out LEMA to win, but their match-up didn’t end there. After the tournament, LEMA President Jeff Beahen reached out to Spare Key. In the spirit of shared excitement for the successes both organizations experienced, a dialogue formed about how they could leverage the momentum of the tournament and create a partnership.
Spare Key Executive Director, Erich Mische, noted that many people on their Board of Directors had been involved in government and public policy and had the privilege of working with the men and women of law enforcement throughout their careers. Because of that body of knowledge, they were pleased to learn of the profound work that LEMA does on behalf of those who are committed to protecting and serving communities throughout Minnesota.
Jeff said on behalf of LEMA that while they didn’t know Spare Key before the tournament, the more they learned, the more interest they had in their organization. He noted, “toward the end, we mentioned that if we had to lose, at least it would be to Spare Key, as we admired their mission and their passion for those they served.”
The outcome of the conversations between the two organizations was the creation of a program to provide housing grants to Minnesota Law Enforcement families with critically ill or seriously injured children in the hospital. Spare Key designated their $10,000 prize from winning the tournament toward this program and LEMA donated an additional $5,000 to Spare Key to be used for the initiative.
Erich said, “we believe it has made many families who might not otherwise know of Spare Key aware of our program and services. Equally important, those families have shared information about our program to others which we believe will ultimately result in Spare Key being an important resource to law enforcement families who have sick and injured children in the hospital.” He added, “one of our strategic goals and objectives for 2017 is to increasingly highlight the relationship with LEMA and more proactively promote our program to law enforcement families throughout Minnesota.”
Jeff stated that the new relationship, “truly opened our eyes to the value of working with other non-profits toward common goals. We have a whole new approach to our marketing and branding after Brackets for Good, and we are so extremely grateful for this experience.” The feeling is mutual for Erich, who said, “we are privileged to have come to know the individuals leading LEMA, and the families they serve”.
Congratulations to both Spare Key and LEMA for this incredible endeavor. Friendly competition is an incredibly powerful force for GOOD. We look forward to seeing what these two champion organizations can do together in their community.
It’s Competitive Giving. Everybody Wins.
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