Five fundraising lessons from the World Cup

For a solid month, soccer has dominated the global sports scene as 32 national teams played their hearts out for World Cup glory. The matches, goals, flops, and fouls have provided coaches of teams ranging from U-6 to the big leagues with teachable moments enough to last another four years.stick_figure_kick_soccer_400_clr_6087

But the World Cup as a source of fundraising lessons? You bet. Five in fact, borrowed from an article in Entrepreneur magazine.

Okay, so the Entrepreneur piece is written with business types in mind, but with a substitute or added word here and there, the soccer-themed counsel is on goal for leaders in the nonprofit world as well. I encourage you to read the article for yourself, but here are the bullet points with a bit of my commentary in italics.


1. Talent doesn’t always win. Case in point, the boys from Brazil. I cringe when boards and CEOs pin their fundraising hopes on a super-star development officer. It takes a team, a solid infrastructure, a winsome case for support, and a plan to get to goal.

2. Community is your organization’s best friend. For entrepreneurs and fundraisers alike, this is a reminder of the importance of building community for your customers and prospects/donors and friends. Focus on education, information and service rather than pure self-promotion as a way to build customer/donor loyalty without feeling like Spam 2.0.

3. The underdog has a role on the big stage. Among both nonprofits and for-profits, “the biggest players aren’t always the most fit to deliver” the goods. Entrepreneurs and fundraisers can provide unique value and differentiation even if they are smaller or less experienced.

4. The relevance of scarcity. I would have rather the author had titled this “differentiation matters,” because that’s the point. Soccer is played year around on many great stages but only the World Cup brings the passion and commitment that we saw over the past month. It’s no ordinary soccer match, coming as it does once every four years.  The World Cup has its differentiator, what is yours?

5. Strategy is the ultimate leveler of the playing field. Companies and organizations with talent can go so far, but those with talent and a plan are the ones that more often win the game. With a solid strategy in place, big things are possible. Without it, think Brazil.

To be sure, there’s more to soccer, business, or fundraising success than the five points listed here. But add these World Cup lessons to your game plan and you won’t go wrong. #Because fundraising.

Fundraisers and soccer fans. What lessons would you add to the list?

What's your take on this topic?

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