Written by Mat Kanan, Assistant Athletic Director, Development Communications & Stewardship, Oregon State University
All Together Now …
When I was asked to write a blog post for NACMA, I began to wonder what would be the impact I could have on this community. My role within Oregon State Athletics is somewhat unique. As Assistant Athletic Director for Development Communications & Stewardship (yes, that does actually fit on just one business card), I work with our annual giving and major gift teams to show the impact of one’s contribution, among other areas. Hopefully, these efforts entice prospective donors to give once, and then again (and again, and again). I am also very fortunate to work with our marketing, communications, fan engagement, and ideation teams to put forth a cohesive brand and message for fans of all levels.
So … how can what I do on a daily basis move the needle with this audience. Then it dawned on me. It was so simple and something that has undoubtedly been on many of our report cards and notes home from teachers since we were in grade school.
(Your first name) works well with others.
That’s it. That is what we need to do. Now, we use words like collaborate, and synergize, but at the root of it, we need to work well together in order to reach our common goal.
Now, this concept can be easier said than done at points in our respective careers and I include myself fully into this category. We pride ourselves on the work we do and, at times, we aren’t the first in line to relinquish ownership. We have the vision and feel we are the best to execute that vision. We all chose to work in college athletics, where competition is at the forefront of what we do. We keep score. We want to win, but we don’t (and can’t) win alone.
Over the past few years, our external team has collaborated on season ticket campaigns, head coach and athletic director announcements, etc. The announcement of our athletic director, Scott Barnes, was multi-faceted and took the work of members of the communications, marketing, development, ideation and executive team working together to pull it off seamlessly. The parts we executed correctly, we celebrated. The aspects where we fell short, we noted and filed away for the next time in order to be better.
I personally was a part of three sport-specific fundraising campaigns and an annual fund fall drive campaign where the goals were to fund a new rowing scull, a players lounge, hall of fame space, and generate new members to our annual fund. All campaigns surpassed their public and stretch goals, but that was not the main common component. What they all had in common was the fact that each campaign incorporated team members from multiple areas of the department doing their part without working in a vacuum.
After each campaign, we drew from what did well, and where we needed to improve. The following is a template, of sorts, we tried to follow to the best of our abilities during the four aforementioned campaigns. Coming up with the following would not have been possible without collaboration. Hopefully this will prove helpful to you and your coworkers.
- Determine and agree upon the goal – The first step to a successful campaign (whether it is revenue generation, fan engagement, ticket or donation focused) is to all agree on what you are trying to achieve, and who/what it will ultimately impact.
- Determine internal/external partners – If an effort is going to be successful, it’s likely going to take help from the outside (alumni, influencers with a passion for the subject matter, etc.).
- Identify your audience – In most cases this will be fairly evident (lapsed donors, returning season ticket holders, etc.), but there will be instances when the best approach is to find an audience whose passion matches your priority.
- Develop the plan – Each member of the campaign team is there because they bring something to the table, so be sure to utilize everyone’s strengths in order to reach your goal.
- Establish milestones – Throughout a campaign, it is good to reach mini-goals in order to show progress to your targeted audience, and to celebrate success internally along the way. Reaching smaller goals en route to the ultimate goal can also drive a larger level of participation. Everyone wants to associate with a winning idea.
- Execute plan with transparency – Be transparent with your audience (those who have participated, and those who are still prospective participants), your teammates and yourself. Be willing to admit a misstep and move forward. Talk about the goals of the campaign and who will be impacted the most by its success.
- Conduct campaign quality control – Depending on the length of a campaign (in terms of time), it is beneficial to periodically huddle up with the campaign team to determine if any adjustments need to be made.
- Have a plan for success – When your campaign reaches its goal, have a strategy to capitalize on that success. Develop content that not only tells of your success, but also who and what that success will benefit, and how further participation will only have that much bigger of an impact.
- Post-Campaign Debrief – When the dust settles on your amazingly successful campaign, sit down as a team to celebrate the victories and note the missteps. This is also a good time to determine what aspects of the campaign can be repurposed for use by different areas of your external team, and entire department, at a later date.
We spend many hours with one another. We spend those countless hours together for one reason. We love what we do, and we love for whom we do it. I guess that is technically two reasons, but the point is that our ultimate goal is to provide the best possible experience, resources, and opportunities for our respective student-athletes.
And we can’t do it alone.