Calling all alumni: March Madness is kicking off, and not just for the NCAA. For the month of March, NCSSM challenges all 34 classes of alumni with its own competition. The class with the highest percentage of donors takes home the March Madness title. While sparking competition between classes, the annual challenge primarily aims to boost donor participation and encourage new donors.
March Madness encourages alumni to support either the Greater Challenge Fund or the NCSSM Foundation’s Unrestricted Endowment, the two designations that allow gifts to have the most significant impact at NCSSM. The competition uses percentage of class members participating for comparison, focusing on participation numbers, not dollars raised.
“This campaign always garners so much excitement because we are a basketball state,” says Lauren Carr ’00, development director at NCSSM. “So many of our alumni grew up watching basketball, so for many of us this is the most exciting time of the year.” The campaign has grown quickly in its five years. In 2014, the top-contributing class had 7 percent of its members donating. Participation more than doubled in 2015, with the top two classes coming in at close to 20 percent participation each.
“It’s become a tradition for a lot of alumni to intentionally give during March,” Carr says, “because they want to support their class, and they recognize that giving during this time has that additional impact of inspiring a larger group to give back as well.”
The campaign keeps its focus on participation over the actual amount raised. “I have always been a firm believer that it is not what you give, but that you give,” says Colin Law ’86 and past president of the Alumni Board. “I am not able to give as much money as some, but I am able to give more time than most. Some people may have very little of either to give, but to give even a small amount is HUGE in boosting the truly important participation numbers.”
“That’s why [the March Madness campaign] is so important,” says Carr, “because it does have a larger impact than just that direct cash deposit to support our programs. We are able to make that money go further, to inspire others to give more than they might have in the past, or to encourage them to take the time to pick up the phone and call a classmate to encourage them to help their class by giving as well.”
Last year, the Class of 2000 won the March Madness Challenge for the second year in a row. With a fierce sprint at the end of the month, the classes of 1986 and 2000 were neck and neck up to the buzzer. The Class of 1982 came in third and the Class of 2007 rounded out fourth place, but deserves a special mention for being a standout among young alumni classes.