Category Archives: Fundraising

Announcing the 2018 Brackets For Good Champions

Posted on April 12, 2018 by Reid McDowell

And just like that, the 2018 Brackets For Good Tournaments have come to an end!! It’s been a blast here at BFG headquarters watching these past five weeks unfold. We’ve been on the edge of our seats watching the multiple Cinderella stories occurring in the tournaments as well as the innovative and engaging fundraising tactics participating nonprofits have created. It’s all led up to this past week. We were down to 26 nonprofits and each matchup provided a different challenge. Though it was a tough race, following the three day championship round, 13 nonprofits managed to make it out on top.

L'Arche Atlanta logo

From Atlanta, champs L’Arche Atlanta fought hard to bring home the $10,000 in order to help adults with and without intellectual disabilities share life and friendships in community. Throughout the tournament, they were able to raise $71,554 to further their mission! Way to go L’Arche Atlanta! View Full Atlanta Bracket


4 Paws for Ability logo

Cincinnati champions 4 Paws for Ability brought the heat in their final round to win $10,000. Overall, 4 Paws for Ability raised $82,569 to enrich the lives of children with disabilities and the lives of veterans from recent conflicts whom have lost the use of their limbs or their hearing while in active combat. They also plan to use these funds to help educate the public to accept the use of service dogs in public places. High five, 4 Paws for Ability! View Full Cincinnati Bracket


The First Tee of Connecticut logo

Connecticut’s champion, The First Tee of Connecticut, strives to impact the lives of young people throughout Connecticut by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. This is how they plan to use their $10,000 winnings, plus the $46,982 they raised throughout the entire tournament. Congratulations First Tee of Connecticut! View Full Connecticut Bracket

Aberg Center for Literacy logo

Aberg Center for Literacy, the championship winner from Dallas, got so much support from donors that they quadrupled their $10,000 championship prize. They raised $60,665 to be exact! The Aberg Center for Literacy is building richer lives, stronger families, and better communities through programs in English fluency, preparation for high school equivalency in English and Spanish, early childhood education, and family literacy. Mad props Aberg Center for Literacy!
View Full Dallas Bracket

Colorado Children's Chorale logo

Denver champion, Colorado Children’s Chorale fought in one of the closest championship rounds in the 2018 tournament out-scoring their competitor by $252. Raising a total of $39,677 Colorado Children’s Chorale strives to serve children of all ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds by providing an engaging, disciplined, and nurturing environment in which they receive outstanding performance and music training, as well as the skills, experiences, and confidence to succeed wherever their lives may take them. What a way to spend that extra $10,000! Whoop whoop! View Full Denver Bracket

Golden Retriever Rescue and Community Education Inc logo

Indiana’s champion Golden Retriever Rescue & Community Education brought out the big guns for to snag the $10,000 in their final round. GRRACE is dedicated to the rescue and re-homing of Golden Retrievers in need, as well as to the education of the public about responsible pet ownership and the special qualities of the Golden Retriever breed. Can’t wait to see how many good boys they are able to help with the incredible $121,830 they raised from the tournament! Keep up the great work GRRACE! View Full Indiana Bracket

NeuroHope of Indiana logo

Neurohope, Indianapolis’ champion, works hard to make long-term access to cutting-edge rehabilitation an affordable reality for individuals recovering from neurologic injury. They will be able to continue providing access to those services with the $10,000 prize plus much more with the $94,215 they raised in the tournament! Solid job Neurohope! View Full Indianapolis Bracket

 Louisville Parks Foundation logo

Kentucky champion Louisville Parks Foundation had amazing help from donors giving $31,965 to support their mission. Louisville Parks encourages supporters to invest in their 120+ public parks and recreational facilities, for both present and future generations. They have a vision of a City of Parks where everyone has the opportunity to Give. Plant. Play. With an additional $10,000 there’s no doubt that they will be able to get closer to making that vision a reality. Sensational job Louisville Parks Foundation!
View Full Kentucky Bracket

Special Olympics Maryland logo

From Maryland, champion Special Olympics Maryland rallied donors and raised $30,015 to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The $10,000 prize will also help in giving their athletes more opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community. Thumbs way up Special Olympics Maryland! View Full Maryland Bracket

A Vision of Redemption, Inc. logo

Miami’s champion, A Vision of Redemption, raised $38,631 to support its mission to enhance the quality of life of children/families affected by incarceration. The BFG crew as well as the donors are looking forward to seeing how AVOR will use the $10,000 prize to encourage, uplift and strengthen the hope of men and women who are and were incarcerated, abandoned, abused, and are reentering society through job training, family counseling, social services, and rehabilitation. You rock AVOR! View Full Miami Bracket

Dodge Nature Center logo

From Minnesota, Dodge Nature Center got donors engaged enough to raise a mind-blowing $125,859. Along with their $10,000 prize, these funds will help to continue to provide exceptional experiences in nature through environmental education. Unbeleafable work Dodge Nature Center! View Full Minnesota Bracket


Park Center logo

Nashville champion, the Park Center empowers people who have mental illness and substance use disorders to live and work in their communities. With the combination of their $10,000 prize and the $40,854 donated by supporters, they will be able to continue providing services like housing, psychiatric rehabilitation day programs, homeless outreach, SSI/SSDI applications, substance abuse treatment, and employment services. Keep spreading the good Park Center! View Full Nashville Bracket

Brace for Impact 46 logo

From St. Louis, champion Brace For Impact 46 had strong support from donors raising $100,863. Brace For Impact 46 can now continue to provide daily care for the 40+ thriving children who have been abandoned or orphaned in Cap Haitien, Haiti. Brace for Impact 46 provides a hot meal every school day to 200 students and staff. Think about the impact the extra $10,000 will make on their mission! Epic work Brace For Impact 46! View Full St. Louis Bracket

These champions did a fantastic job of engaging donors, but let’s not forget the other 592 fantastic organizations that participated in the 2018 tournament!! Here’s a round of applause for all the spectacular nonprofits that competed *Claps hands in a circle*. And here’s a round of applause for the empowered donors that contributed to the total $2,987,679 raised for all 605 charities *claps hands in a circle again*. Here’s a special shout out to the first-time donors to those organizations! We hope this tournament has inspired you to stay involved with an organization, or two, that you love! High five friends and keep doing good!

Posted in BFG History, Brackets For Good, Fundraising

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

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

Local Giving, Global Impact: Food For His Children

Posted on July 27, 2017 by Jen Marcuson

Food For His Children

Minnesota’s Food for His Children (FFHC) fought their way through 4 tough rounds to finish as one of the Philanthropic Four organizations in the Twin Cities tournament.  While the team was 100% volunteer-run in the US and one of the smaller organizations to participate in BFG17, they are likely the only organization to have board members and staff on the ground in Tanzania!

FFHC provides holistic community development to families living in material poverty in rural Tanzania.  Since their launch in 2008, they have served over 225 families. Through their program, which costs about $21 per month per family, recipients learn new ways of farming, caring for livestock, how to run businesses, and about saving money and providing for their families. Often, this is done through a program of sustainable goat farming.

While they did have a valiant tournament run, and earned over $16,000 for their program, serving a community outside the local community did prove to be a challenge. Co-founder and Executive Director Kerrie Holschbach reflected, “I think it was harder for us to compete against organizations that serve locally because the people they impact are right here. The 1,500 people we are directly impacting are a world away.” Ultimately, their global status offered a differentiation from some of the other organizations. Kerrie added, “We have much to offer people who want to give locally, but impact globally. Many who know they have the ability to transform generations with just $21 per month are fervently passionate about giving and want to do anything they can to make an impact.”

Being a fairly new organization, the exposure provided by participating in BFG was invaluable to FFHC.  They were featured in a BFG Top 10 Video, utilized the training tools provided, and their team in Tanzania learned creative ways to share their work via short video clips. They gained online fundraising experience and attracted new supporters, some of whom have started volunteering with them since the tournament. As a result, their confidence in fundraising has grown. In the pre-tournament survey, FFHC had stated that they felt they had been only ‘moderately successful’ in online fundraising to date. After their BFG run, Kerri stated, “Today, I would say that we have been very successful in online fundraising!”  She added, “One comment we heard from our donors in the last rounds was that they were ‘pulling for the little guy’ because we were up against organizations that have million dollar budgets and paid staff who can focus on fundraising and communications. The nitty-gritty work for BFG was done with just three volunteers, which should encourage all nonprofits to give BFG a shot.”

While Kerri won’t reveal her top-secret tournament strategies, she said that upon reflecting on their 2017 performance, one thing she would change was the temptation to hold back asking for donations in the earlier rounds due to fear of exhausting their supporter base. She believes they would do just as well if they encouraged supporters to give from the beginning, not to wait until the end of the round or until the later rounds.  Next time, she says, “we will operate from a different mindset and our opponent will be blessed by also raising more money in order to keep up with us!”

Posted in Brackets For Good, Fundraising, Nonprofit Story | Tagged Twin Cities

All-Star Spotlight: A Vision of Redemption

Posted on June 28, 2017 by Jen Marcuson

A Vision of Redemption_logo and beneficiary_Brackets For Good Miami_ 2017.jpg

A breakout star in the 2017 Miami BFG tournament was undoubtedly A Vision of Redemption, Inc., a young but feisty team out of Pompano Beach. Founded in 2012, AVOR is a volunteer-staffed nonprofit whose mission is to enhance the quality of life of families affected by incarceration. Through their programs, which include career coaching, familial support, family visitation, and services to returning citizens released from the correctional system, they aim to ensure that all individuals have the access to the resources necessary to ensure future self-sustainability.

The championship round was the highest-scoring round of the Miami tournament. Both AVOR and their final competitor, the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center, scored significantly more than they had in any of their previous rounds. We asked AVOR what their game plan was going into that nerve-racking round. AVOR founder Robin Figueroa noted that while they were in it to win it, they knew they were up against a strong competitor. She said, “We were really praying that we could win as the organization we were up against was pretty big. It’s a museum and they were founded before we were born. So we knew they had support and money to back them up since they’d been in business for such a long time.”

To rally their supporters, Figueroa said that they adopted many of the tools provided in the BFG locker room; specifically the email tools. She noted that they were able to use these tools to monitor their email opens and clicks. She credits the locker room training with helping them get to second place.

Despite being brand new to the BFG fundraising model, AVOR raised an impressive 42% of their points via Buzzer Beaters. In fact, Buzzer Beaters are what got them through Round 1! In regular play, AVOR was just behind their first competitor but the Buzzer Beaters made all the difference. Figueroa won’t reveal her Buzzer Beater strategy because she plans on winning next year (we love that enthusiasm!).

While they played valiantly, AVOR ultimately came in second and the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center took the Miami title. The disappointment was short-lived however, because the funds raised exceeded expectations and were put to good use – to fix their 20-passenger bus which they plan to use to take kids to visit their parents who are incarcerated. They also used some funds to purchase supplies to support ongoing programs and hire a grant writer.

Figueroa has some excellent advice for prospective competitors out there, who might be thinking about flexing their philanthropic muscles in next years’ tournaments:

“If you are thinking about joining BFG do it!! What are you waiting for?  It’s the most fun and nerve wrecking moments of your nonprofit life. It has you on the edge of your seat, biting your nails, jumping, screaming and celebrating all in the same day. It’s exciting and if you are lucky enough to win, it will give the chance of a lifetime… more importantly, have fun!!”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Congratulations to A Vision of Redemption on their amazing tournament run!

Posted in Brackets For Good, Fundraising, Nonprofit Story | Tagged Miami

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