The Brackets For Good Highlights blog is used to showcase the impact our participating organizations and sponsors have on their communities, share proven nonprofit fundraising advice, and provide updates on our March fundraising tournaments.

All-Star Spotlight: A Vision of Redemption

Posted on June 28, 2017 by Jen Marcuson

A Vision of Redemption_logo and beneficiary_Brackets For Good Miami_ 2017.jpg

A breakout star in the 2017 Miami BFG tournament was undoubtedly A Vision of Redemption, Inc., a young but feisty team out of Pompano Beach. Founded in 2012, AVOR is a volunteer-staffed nonprofit whose mission is to enhance the quality of life of families affected by incarceration. Through their programs, which include career coaching, familial support, family visitation, and services to returning citizens released from the correctional system, they aim to ensure that all individuals have the access to the resources necessary to ensure future self-sustainability.

The championship round was the highest-scoring round of the Miami tournament. Both AVOR and their final competitor, the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center, scored significantly more than they had in any of their previous rounds. We asked AVOR what their game plan was going into that nerve-racking round. AVOR founder Robin Figueroa noted that while they were in it to win it, they knew they were up against a strong competitor. She said, “We were really praying that we could win as the organization we were up against was pretty big. It’s a museum and they were founded before we were born. So we knew they had support and money to back them up since they’d been in business for such a long time.”

To rally their supporters, Figueroa said that they adopted many of the tools provided in the BFG locker room; specifically the email tools. She noted that they were able to use these tools to monitor their email opens and clicks. She credits the locker room training with helping them get to second place.

Despite being brand new to the BFG fundraising model, AVOR raised an impressive 42% of their points via Buzzer Beaters. In fact, Buzzer Beaters are what got them through Round 1! In regular play, AVOR was just behind their first competitor but the Buzzer Beaters made all the difference. Figueroa won’t reveal her Buzzer Beater strategy because she plans on winning next year (we love that enthusiasm!).

While they played valiantly, AVOR ultimately came in second and the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center took the Miami title. The disappointment was short-lived however, because the funds raised exceeded expectations and were put to good use – to fix their 20-passenger bus which they plan to use to take kids to visit their parents who are incarcerated. They also used some funds to purchase supplies to support ongoing programs and hire a grant writer.

Figueroa has some excellent advice for prospective competitors out there, who might be thinking about flexing their philanthropic muscles in next years’ tournaments:

“If you are thinking about joining BFG do it!! What are you waiting for?  It’s the most fun and nerve wrecking moments of your nonprofit life. It has you on the edge of your seat, biting your nails, jumping, screaming and celebrating all in the same day. It’s exciting and if you are lucky enough to win, it will give the chance of a lifetime… more importantly, have fun!!”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Congratulations to A Vision of Redemption on their amazing tournament run!

Posted in Brackets For Good, Fundraising, Nonprofit Story | Tagged Miami

All Star Spotlight: Outreach International

Posted on May 26, 2017 by Reid McDowell


Outreach International Brackets For Good Highlight Reel

2017 will go down in the record books as a very special year for Brackets For Good. 2017 marked the first year that the fundraising madness stretched nationwide with nonprofits from 31 different states participating in the first-ever nationwide tournament, Brackets For Good USA. Additionally, the 2017 tournaments raised more money for charities than the previous 5 year history of Brackets For Good. To gain a unique perspective on the monumental year, we connected with BFG USA participant and world change maker, Outreach International who is working to ending chronic poverty worldwide.

What led you to register for the tournament?

Here at Outreach, we are always keeping an eye out for new experiences that allow us to share our mission, build relationships, and have fun doing both. When we heard about the nation-wide competitive giving tournament that is BFG, we just had to apply! The idea of being involved with organizations across the country was exciting and inspiring.

How did your team prepare for the tournament? 

LOTS of burpees . . . just kidding. Our staff loved preparing for this tournament; it was a new way for us to come together and engage with other organizations. We built a webpage specifically for the tournament and sprinkled the address throughout our electronic communications with supporters throughout March.

We also reached out to local Kansas City businesses, sports companies, and our beloved basketball-boosting fans for support in the competition. Although we couldn’t make it to D.C. for the pre-tournament Pep Rally, we held a viewing party in our conference room as our first-round competitor was announced.

Did you leverage the use of volunteers or board members for the tournament in any way?

Yes! We are fortunate to have an engaged, enthusiastic, competition-loving Board of Directors. We relied on them to spread the word throughout the tournament and recruit their peers to join our team.

What kind of response did you expect to see from the tournament vs. what you experienced? 

We were pleasantly surprised to see how involved donors were in BFG, both for us and for other organizations. We did not expect to have as formidable an opponent as we did, but were glad that BFG generated so much attention and raised so much money for many world-changing organizations.

Have you ever participated in any other ‘competitive’-style fundraising in the past? If so, what was that experience like?

This was our first time, but I don’t think it will be our last!

Did you use the funds you raised on a particular initiative or program? If so, what was it?

All the funds that we raised went into our General Fund – the contributions will go directly to our most pressing needs as an organization. In our particular area of concentration, unrestricted funds are a necessity, as the spectrum of countries, communities, issues, and initiatives related to our work make predictive budget allocations pretty tricky.  We’re thankful for the flexibility afforded us by these funds, and can assure you that they were used thoughtfully.

In your pre-tournament survey, your organization listed “Not Enough Fundraising Through Individual Donations” as limiting to your ability to serve your recipients. Did this tournament help you gain new supporters or funds?

Unfortunately, we did not gain any new supporters directly through Brackets For Good, but we did raise over $4,000 that we most likely wouldn’t have generated without this tournament!

Do you plan to register for next year? Any goals or plans that you’d like to share?

Absolutely! All of us enjoyed experiencing the intensity and excitement of the tournament, and have developed a taste for it. After being thoroughly routed in this year’s tournament, we’re keeping next year’s game plan close to the vest. Buckle up!

What did you learn being part of BFG USA? Any big surprises?

We learned that a little competition really does inspire our team! All of us had a great time psyching each other up for the tournament, and all our enthusiasm seemed to really invigorate our supporters, as well. The spirit of teamwork and the overall response of BFG donors were really wonderful, and we’re excited to be a part of the tournament again next year.

How do you plan to follow-up with both new and existing donors now that the tournament is over?

Once the tournament was over, we mailed a personal postcard to each donor who gave through BFG to thank them for their gifts. They’ve also been added to our list of supporters so we can keep them updated on all the promise and progress their gifts make possible!

Posted in Brackets For Good, Fundraising, Nonprofit Story

Brackets For Good 2017 Champions

Posted on April 20, 2017 by Jen Marcuson

The Brackets For Good 2017 Champions post-game press conference: get the scoop on all the game-winning plays.

Brackets For Good Champion check presentation April 12th 2017 at Indiana Pacer Home Game at halftime on halfcourt

🏆 USA (National)

  • Champion: Allied Arts
  • Raised: $440,004.83
  • Mission: Enriching Our Communities Through Advancement of the Arts.
  • How they lit up the scoreboard: “We had brand new donors, and that’s always great. We also had loyal donors, and we had corporate partners that gave more because there was this opportunity to double their dollars. Having that $100,000 prize out there as an opportunity really helped our corporate donors say, ‘let’s get in on this!’.”

🏆 Ann Arbor

  • Champion: Community Action Network
  • Raised: $42,706.44
  • Mission: Community Action Network partners with children, youth and families from under-resourced Washtenaw County neighborhoods to create better futures for themselves and to improve the communities in which they live.
  • How they lit up the scoreboard: “Brackets For Good gave us a way to reconnect with old donors and a way to connect with new donors to raise a lot of money for our organization when we desperately needed it.”

🏆 Baltimore

  • Champion: I AM O’KAH!
    Mission: The mission of I AM O’KAH! is to empower all youth to unlock their greatest potential: through mentorship, scholarships and programs that help them navigate through socio-economic barriers to success.
  • Raised: $30,477.03
  • How they lit up the scoreboard: “Brackets For Good increased our outreach to first-time donors and allowed us to spread awareness about the organization to people who didn’t previously know about us.”

🏆 Cincinnati

  • Champion: NS Cares
    Mission: The vision of NS Cares is to ignite progress and growth throughout the insurance industry through acts of kinds in our communities.
  • Raised: $37,402.93
  • How they lit up the scoreboard: “Brackets For Good not only brings in new donors and connects you to your current donor base but also connects you with other organizations you might not be aware of, and you might have future opportunities for partnership.”

🏆 Denver

  • Champion: Promise Ranch Therapeutic Riding
    Mission: Promise Ranch encourages individuals of all abilities, including Veterans, to reach their full potential by providing safe, supportive, and quality Green Care opportunities in our community.
  • Raised: $52,718.00
  • Game Winning Play: “The tournament created an intense amount of excitement within our community, with our clients, our volunteers, and also new donors. That was really amazing and thrilling for us.”
  • How they lit up the scoreboard: “This competition really gave us a chance to come together as a staff, with our board, and with our volunteers and clients, and build something from the inside out.”

🏆 Hartford

  • Champion: CMHA (Community Mental Health Affiliates)
  • Mission: CMHA is a leading provider of an integrated health and behavioral health care system for children, families and adults. By fostering improvement in the quality of life for their clients, CMHA contributes to the well-being of the communities it serves.
  • Raised: $53,883.78
  • How they lit up the scoreboard: “Brackets For Good was a huge team-building concept for our organization. It brought our organization together; it engaged our employees; it made us feel like a team working together for a common goal.”

🏆 Indianapolis

  • Champion: Brooke’s Place for Grieving Young People
    Mission: To serve people living with childhood grief through bereavement programs, advocacy, community education and outreach. Our vision is to ensure that no person living with childhood grief feels alone.
  • Raised: $91,460.74
  • How they lit up the scoreboard: “Brackets For Good created tremendous awareness about our organization and actually helped families find us who need our services.”

🏆 Louisville

  • Champion: Neighborhood House
    Mission: Our mission is to provide individuals with opportunities to enhance the quality of their lives. Our vision is to break the cycle of poverty for our children and families.
  • Raised: $71,148.83
  • How they lit up the scoreboard: “Brackets for Good is a tremendous way to raise awareness for your nonprofit and to really capture the energy going on around March Madness already. If you can harness that power for good and turn it into dollars, that’s wonderful.”

🏆 Miami

  • Champion: Holocaust Documentation & Education Center
  • Mission: To document and present an enduring, historically accurate record of the Holocaust through eyewitness accounts by Survivors, Liberators, Rescuers, and others who survived terrifying experiences, overcame fear and grief, and triumphed to live meaningful and productive. To teach people from all walks of life the universal lessons of the Holocaust, through thought-provoking exhibitions and insightful programming, illuminating the catastrophic ramifications of prejudice, racism, stereotyping, and bullying which tragically still occur today. This is accomplished through the cultivation of alliance and cooperation with individuals, organizations and institutions, locally, nationally, and internationally.
  • Raised: $32,414.25
  • How they lit up the scoreboard: “Brackets For Good really spreads awareness. It also boosts morale, donors become excited, friends want to get engaged, and everyone has lots of fun!”

🏆 Nashville

  • Champion: Cottage Cove Urban Ministries
  • Mission: To provide educational opportunities and training in the arts through the power and in the name of Jesus Christ.
  • Raised: $40,049.70
  • How they lit up the scoreboard: “The biggest thing for us was that it was a way to get more people involved early in the year when normally fundraising just doesn’t happen.”

🏆 St. Louis

  • Champion: Camp Jump Start
  • Mission: Camp Jump Start is a whole health summer camp dedicated to jump start kid success.
  • Raised: $106,088.43
  • How they lit up the scoreboard: “Brackets For Good gave us a great opportunity to engage all of our staff, donors, and volunteers in order to be a team. Everyone wanted us to win, round after round after round and it got everyone very engaged!”

🏆 Twin Cities

  • Champion: Ronald McDonald House Charities, Upper Midwest
    Mission: We, in partnership with our community, provide a comfortable and caring home-away-from-home that supports keeping families together and reduces stress during a child’s serious illness.
  • Raised: $64,190.07
  • Game Winning Play: “The social media presence has been priceless.”
  • How they lit up the scoreboard: “Brackets For Good is one of the best ways we’ve had to engage new donors or lapsed donors. The competitive spirit energizes not only our staff, but our donors as well as the philanthropic community.”

Posted in Ann Arbor Area, Brackets For Good, Fundraising, Indianapolis, Louisville, Nonprofit Story, St. Louis, Twin Cities

Score BIG with Our Champ Coloring Contest

Posted on March 13, 2017 by Matt Duncan

Put your artistic skills on display and you could be one of five lucky winners to win $100 for your favorite nonprofit! Here is how you can get in the game!

Good luck #noluckneeded!



Posted in Brackets For Good

Welcome to the Line Up Birge & Held Asset Management

Posted on February 25, 2017 by Jen Marcuson

Birge & Held (B&H) is a national apartment real estate, private equity and investment firm located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Since 2008, B&H has acquired and currently manages over $350,000,000 in multi-family assets across the country. Through private equity and creative debt structures, B&H continues to grow its portfolio of assets and generate strong returns for its investors.

Birge & Held tugofwar6


B&G is dedicated to creating profitable partnerships with their stakeholders, an enriched work environment for employees, best in class properties for their residents, and opportunities for community involvement. They have a Community Service policy for all employees and encourage continuous philanthropic initiatives. In this spirit, B&G has generously signed up to be a BFG 2017 Indianapolis Community Teammate. They are partnered with the Humane Society of Hamilton County, our 2015 Indianapolis Champion!

We are excited to see what B&H and the Humane Society unleash in the 2017 tournament together.

Posted in Indianapolis

← Oldest posts