So, your team just made The Big Dance? Here are some tips to engage your higher education institution’s donor base in the Madness.

In the basketball world, March is the most wonderful time of year. Our collegiate teams find out if the hundreds of hours devoted to practice, travel, and gameday have landed a ticket to a national tournament in March. Recent post-season victories flooding our screens remind us of the many successes that higher education institutions may have the opportunity to celebrate: awards, honors, athletic feats, Nobel Prize winners, ribbon cuttings — the list goes on.

In this article, we explore how to engage your donor base in collegiate success. Ben Mandelbaum, Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach at Alcorn State University, a “public historically Black, comprehensive land-grant institution of higher education” located in Mississippi, helps us paint the picture through the lens of basketball.

Annually, CCS Fundraising conducts thousands of personal interviews with constituents of our incredible partner organizations. One of the questions we like to ask during those interviews is, “When you choose to make a gift to a nonprofit organization, what compels you to make that gift?”

Year after year, donors are compelled to give when they feel they are making a true impact with their gift and that something great happened because of their generosity. Storytelling is an important way of underscoring the impact made from philanthropic gifts. If your higher education institution has achieved a noteworthy feat, like making a national tournament, it is a tremendous opportunity to engage your community.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind while telling your story.

FOR NEWLY ENGAGED constituents

Whether your school has made it to a tournament game or seen another success among the student body or institution, consider these tips for engaging your community now.

With all eyes on your team, help show the world what it took to get here. It could be a great time to share some of your easy-to-understand team needs; the cost of a scholarship, room and board for a standout athlete, equipment, and gear, can be daunting. And if your constituents want a thriving college community, nothing is better for enrollment in my opinion than something exciting to stand behind.

Ben Mandelbaum, Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach, Alcorn State University


When it is time to speak personally with your closest constituents about supporting the program, consider the following ideas:

You can make people feel really close to the game. Invite folks to practices, show them through your eyes what your needs are. A quick walk through the locker room, as an example, and you won’t have to explain that it needs a facelift.

Ben Mandelbaum, Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach, Alcorn State University


Every team has a story. I hear the ins and outs of each player every day. If more people knew those stories, how could you not root for the team?

Ben Mandelbaum, Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach, Alcorn State University

In conclusion, with the above tips, you can translate your good news into ongoing philanthropic support and engagement for seasons to come. Congratulations to all teams who participated this year and to every college and university that has seen a recent institutional success. And congratulations to Coach Ben and the Alcorn State Braves on their regular season title and NIT appearance.

More Insights


How to Get Alumni to Donate Through Effective Internal Partnerships

June 21, 2024

Learn how to get alumni to donate for fundraising success with effective internal partnerships at your education institution.


Custom GPTs for Fundraising: A Nonprofit Guide

May 31, 2024

Learn about Custom Generative Pre-Trained Transformers (GPTs), their application in fundraising, and how you can harness their capabilities to streamline your fundraising efforts and forge deeper connections with donors.