BOSCA 2018 was an awesome workshop. This was our first year attending, and I was blown away by the strong link between a genuine and sustainable athletics department culture and successful fundraising.
As we learned an amazing culture can be the engine for all types of growth. To name a few:
- Fundraising → dollars and cents matter, as you all are well aware.
- Recruiting → the ability to bring in star coaches, athletes and staff is paramount.
- Retaining → once in the door, you need to hold onto those stars.
- Winning → both on and off the field; academic and athletic success will continue to fuel your program.
We heard Matt Jones say “culture eats strategy”. I couldn’t agree more, and would extend that a bit to say culture should be an integral component of your strategy. Devin Crosby, Tim Selgo, and others provided a great overview of what comprises culture – relationships, excellence, caring about people, being willing to take risks. And most importantly, knowing your “Why”, and then actually living it.
1) Living Your Department’s Why
Context matters. The underlying passion – or lack thereof – within your department is the guiding force behind all of your decisions and requests for gifts. Put yourself in your donor’s shoes – would you give to an athletic department that just wants to win, or one that wants to provide the best possible experience to student-athletes and produce influential citizens in our world?
Are you acting in a way that is consistent with your Why every single day? Is your department efficient and consistent enough to communicate that mission in meetings, during orientation, at practice?
2) Cultivate Relationships
Relationships are hard work. You can probably identify at least one coach on campus who struggles to connect with his/her athletes. And you can probably identify at least one coach who you as an administrator struggle to connect with. Even if you’re great at relationships, the sheer volume of coaches, staff and athletes – relationships to upkeep – can be overwhelming.
Whether you like it or not, the presence or lack of relationship cultivation is on display when you bring donors on campus. Does the lack of coordination hurt your ability to physically bring people in and show them your culture?
“I believe that the easiest way to erode trust within an organization is to not value time.”
—Buck Buchanan, Hendrix University Head Football Coach (and TeamSynced customer)
3) Involve Student-Athletes
Your student-athletes are a key constituent in your athletic department (without them it wouldn’t exist!). As such they should be part of your culture. Give them a voice. By meeting with them regularly and providing an open communication channel that isn’t just “come by my office”, you can ensure student-athletes are front and center in culture discussions.
Your donors appreciate this because it provides validation that their gifts actually made an impact.
4) Don’t Settle for Mediocre
You’re already providing your coaches and athletes with the best equipment, facilities, venues, and sport-specific technologies (i.e., swing analytics software for baseball and softball). Are you providing them with the BEST organizational tools and technology so that the rest of your donors’ gifts can be fully utilized? If you’re like many of the programs we speak with, the answer is there’s room to improve. And that’s ok.
“We strive to be effective; organization and communication are two huge tools in making sure we are not wasting valuable time.” (read more)
Bringing It Home
Let me tie all of this together: communication and maximizing productivity with your available resources can make or break your attainment of great culture.
We at TeamSynced have been doing exactly that for programs just like yours for years. Give your coaches and athletes the BEST tool to be successful. Remove obstacles – such as communication and schedule breakdowns and the resulting productivity hit – so they can fully live their Why. Don’t be afraid to leverage technology to do this – we all know that everyone from student-athletes to boosters don’t read email anymore so you must adapt.
Thank you for letting TeamSynced be part of this amazing community.