Celtics Show Nonprofits How to Score Off the Court

Bos_celticsThank goodness the Red Sox are in spring training because basketball fans here in Boston have little to cheer for (unlike my fellow blogger Mike Swenson).  Boston College is out of the big tourney, losing to Georgetown the other night.  And the Celtics are well under .500 and will be watching the playoffs at home with the rest of us. 

But even with a dismal record, the Celtics have some good things to celebrate.  They have a young team that plays with a lot of heart.  They also have great fan support.  The team frequently plays to near sellout crowds at home.  Even with fewer wins than last year and a record 18 game losing streak this season, attendance is up six percent this year.

So how are the Celtics filling the Garden?  Entertainment.  Dancers, free concerts by R&B singers and rock stars after the game, a professional gymnast as a mascot, a new high-def jumbotron scoreboard and the list goes on.  A recent Boston Globe story on the team's success off the court concluded: "The Celtics had to persuade fans that coming to see the games is about everything but.  And it's working."

The lesson for cause marketers is that entertainment can work for us too, and that giving to charity can be about everything but.  The theme may sound familiar because I've written about it before.  I call it Philanthrotainment, which is a combination of philanthropy and entertainment.  But that's the only place you'll see philanthropy first because Philanthrotainment is all about entertainment.

Interested in learning more?  Check out these resources.

  • My first post on Philanthrotainment.
  • A second post in which I took questions from readers on Philanthrotainment.
  • Read the book that has been my bible: Marketing Outrageously by John Spoelstra.

John's book is a fascinating account of how he was stuck with a losing basketball team (his was the hapless New Jersey Nets) but he still filled the seats and made money thanks to creative marketing and outrageous thinking.  It's a funny, instructive read--as is John's second book Ice to the Eskimos: How To Market a Product Nobody Wants.  If that title doesn't sound like it was hand written for nonprofits, what does?