How Lacrosse the Nations engages the lacrosse community as volunteers and fundraisers
Lacrosse the Nations (LtN) is a wonderful nonprofit organization that unifies the lacrosse community to improve education and health while creating opportunity and hope for children across the world.
Javier Silva, the Executive Director for the Lacrosse the Nations, shares his experience with the organization and how they work with lacrosse teams, coaches and players to assist their cause as volunteers, fundraisers and supporters of their mission.
Q: Tell us about the driving mission behind Lacrosse the Nations.
We believe in the power of sport to bring people together, to build them up, to give them hope, and to create change. Our mission is to unify the lacrosse community to educate, empower and create opportunities for young people all over the world.
Q: Why lacrosse?
Our founders are lacrosse players. When LtN was founded they wanted to use the sport they were given growing up to give back in a way they had never done before. Lacrosse people are passionate, driven and dedicated individuals. Collectively we can do an incredible amount of good in the world.
Q: Your current title is Executive Director. What is your background with Lacrosse the Nations and what was the journey to bring you to this position?
I’ve been with Lacrosse the Nations for almost seven years. I started out as a volunteer in Nicaragua. I was supposed to be there for 13-months and ended up living in Nicaragua for almost 4 years. I fell in love with the work the organization was doing. From there I accepted a full-time role with LtN and shortly after that I was named the Executive Director.
Q: As executive director of a small nonprofit, what does your day-to-day look like?
Every day is a bit different because I take on a lot of different roles. I spend a lot of time reaching out to lacrosse players, coaches and fans to recruit fundraisers, volunteers and donors. I also oversee all of our programs and so I dedicate time to check in with staff and volunteers to ensure we are working to improve our programs. I work really closely with our board of directors as well to ensure that we are also focused on our long-term strategy and growth. And of course, there are all the administrative and legal responsibilities (bookkeeping, compliance, etc.). There’s never really a dull day for me.
Q: Describe the lacrosse community and how Lacrosse the Nations is involved in it.
Like I said before, the lacrosse community is full of some really incredible people. It’s a very tight-knit group and there’s a bond that lacrosse players have that is pretty unique. We work with the lacrosse community in a few ways. We provide high school, college and club lacrosse teams with the opportunity to volunteer with our programs so they can learn how we use the sport as a tool to promote education, develop leaders and influence change in the communities where we work. They are also the biggest fundraisers for us. The players, coaches and teams we work with will dedicate a game, a season or another event to help raise awareness and funds for our programs. It is our biggest source of revenue and shows just how much a group of people can do when they work together. Lastly, we provide high school and college lacrosse players the opportunity to put our mission to work at home by providing the resources they need to create LtN programs in their own communities.
Q: What does this partnership look like when it comes to fundraising?
Each partnership is tailored to the team/player/coach that we work with but in essence, it comes down to a few simple steps.
- Pick an event to use as a fundraiser.
- We create fundraising pages and provide a fundraising guide.
- The team gets others to join in on their fundraising.
- They start spreading the word about their fundraiser.
Q: How does this method of fundraising help further develop your community relationships?
It’s our mission at work. Having the lacrosse community come together to raise money for our programs they are helping us grow the lacrosse community in other countries and using our favorite sport to promote education and provide opportunities through lacrosse. When they see what we can do with the money they raise it only reinforces how strong our community is and encourages others to join in.
Q: How do you aid any fundraising efforts done on your behalf by the community? (Education, materials, support, etc.)
We provide a fundraising tool-kit that includes sample emails, letters and social media posts. We work with players and coaches to organize their events and let them know about other resources that are available to them.
Q: What advice would you give to other nonprofits regarding finding, connecting and engaging with a community?
Doing this successfully is really hard and is a long process, something that happens over several months and years to be willing to put in the work to build relationships and inspire your community.
Q: Are there any particular struggles you’ve run into engaging your particular community? How did you resolve them?
I think our struggles are just like any other nonprofit. Our donors and fundraisers have a million other things going on in their lives – practices, games, school and work. In order for them to successfully raise money for us, we have to make sure they are thinking of LtN. In order to do that we try to tell our story in a clear concise and consistent manner. We do this with our monthly e-newsletter, our social media channels and personal communication from myself and our communications director. We talk to them about what we’re up to and how they fit into our story, reminding them of the impact we are all having together.
Q: What are the primary ways Lacrosse the Nations raises money? Tell us about the events you host.
- Our Team LtN campaign, which is our annual peer-to-peer campaign that I described earlier is one of our biggest revenue sources. This can either be a lacrosse game during their season, a clinic, or even a small tournament organized by our fundraisers.
- Additionally, we organize weeklong service-learning trips to our international programs. They are an opportunity for our community to see our work first hand and meet the participants of our programs.
- We organize two or three events each year in the places where a large portion of our donors live. We bring great food, music and people together to celebrate all the good we’re doing together
Q: How do you use events as a way to connect with your community and what goal(s) do you hope to accomplish through them?
Since most of our programs are in Central America and our donors and fundraisers are spread across the US it is difficult for the two groups to connect. We wanted to host these events to get our supporters in a room to say thank you. To foster our relationship with them so they can see the impact their donations and fundraising efforts have. So they know how meaningful their support is and what more we can accomplish together.
Q: What are your future goals for LtN?
Our goals are to strengthen our current programs by increasing the number of participants and what we can offer (academic support, professional development, job opportunities) and to expand to new cities and countries to replicate the success we have had at our current sites. In order to do that we must grow our community of supporters in the US.