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Alumni join together to support NCSSM through March Madness donor challenge

Each year, during the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament, NCSSM hosts its very own March Madness—an alumni donor participation challenge, with classes competing for the title of March Madness Champions. This year, the Class of 2000 took home the prize, with 31.62% of their class making a qualifying donation to the NCSSM Foundation. The challenge raised more than $87,000 dollars in support of NCSSM.

During the annual competition, NCSSM’s alumni classes—from the first class of 1982 to our future alumni classes of 2018 and 2019—compete against each other to have the highest percentage of donor participation in support of the school. Any gift to the NCSSM Foundation during the month of March counts, and participation is calculated per class based on the number of donors during the competition divided by the number of people in the class.

Not only is the competition a fun, friendly rivalry between classes, it is also important in generating support for the NCSSM Foundation, and in boosting donor participation. This year, 493 alumni made a gift to the Foundation during the challenge, boosting year-to-date alumni participation to a high of 13%.

A few updates to the rules this year spiced up the competition. For the first time, the future alumni classes of 2018 and 2019—current students—were invited to participate against the alumni classes. Additionally, the competition received overtime by extending the end date from March 31 to April 2, the date of the NCAA Tournament Championship game.

The competition never disappoints. This year, new competitors emerged in the Class of 1995, and the top two places came down to a stiff competition between the Classes of 2000 and 2003 on the final night. In the late hours of the competition, the Class of 2003 made a surge, surpassing 2000. In just four hours, 2003 added 17 donors to their participation, boosting them to 27.7%. After the update was posted to the NCSSM Alumni Association group on Facebook, Lauren Carr Wiggs ‘00 took to her class page to rally her classmates to victory. And it worked! The Class of 2000 reclaimed the title of March Madness champions, the Class of 2003 claimed the title in 2017.

The dedication of alumni advocates certainly plays a strong role in leading their classes to victory, says Annual Giving Officer Anne Clark Hathaway. King Jones, from the winning Class of 2000, pointed to the dedication of classmates like Wiggs as motivators for their class, but also spoke about the pride their class has from creating a precedent of winning. A newer challenger, the Class of 2003, who won the competition in 2017, has a system to their success. Class representative Jenna Ingersoll ‘03 says, “We foster two things: a sense of pride and competition. We make emails go viral among our class, we use Facebook to reach out and remind people often of the ongoing challenge.”

An anonymous challenge issued by a classmate helped motivate the Class of 1995, who finished in third place this year—if  50 or 100 classmates donated $20 or more during the competition, the challenger would donate an additional $10,000 or $20,000 to NCSSM respectively. The donations starting rolling in after the challenge was announced, boosting the class’s participation from 1.9% to 9.3%, matching their 2017 finish,  within just a few days.

In the end, March Madness is a great opportunity to connect with classmates while coming together to support NCSSM. Jones reflected on the competition, saying, “the best part [of March Madness] is joking around with classmates on our Facebook group. This always brings us together, even if it is virtual and for a relatively short period of time.” Plus, he adds, “my sister graduated in ‘02, so it’s nice to rub a victory in her face!”

 Miss out on March Madness, but still want to contribute? Visit our donation page to make a gift today. Thank you for your support of the NCSSM Foundation.