Each year, more than 4,000 participants team up with friends and colleagues to bowl for JA students during the JA Bowl-A-Thon. These dedicated supporters aren’t just bowling – they’re raising more than $1 million to ensure that students in Colorado and Wyoming receive JA programs at no cost.
Byron Ferguson, software development manager with Nelnet, has learned the secret to successful JA Bowl-A-Thon fundraising, raising more than $10,000 for JA in the last four years. So what’s his secret?
“I’m a big believer in the mission and have volunteered for JA in a Day, JA Business Week and JA Finance Park a number of times,” said Byron. “JA volunteers made a significant impact in my high school life. As a student, I participated in the JA Company Program twice and attended the National Junior Achievement Conference twice. My JA experiences were defining events in who I am now, and gave me distinct advantages early in my career.”
In addition to sharing the JA story, Byron suggests being creative and making fundraising fun.
“We encourage funny bowling names and costumes, and we have prizes for high score, best individual fundraiser and best team fundraiser,” said Byron, who in addition to bowling is serving as Nelnet’s JA Bowl-A-Thon coordinator this year.
“Show that you’ve got skin in the game,” said Byron. “What services, skills, prizes, etc., can you offer to your coworkers, family, and friends, to encourage more donations? One year, I offered a list of ridiculous prizes that included recording your phone greeting in a funny voice or cleaning your house. Another year, everyone who supported me received a personalized, ‘limited-edition,’ thank you card with unique bowling doodles.”
“Cast your net wide,” adds Byron. “Send e-mails to old co-workers, high school friends – any and every one you think might support you. And keep your messages urgent; it’s amazing how people will step up to support your efforts when they know how much it means to you.” And above all else, Byron stresses the importance of always thanking your supporters.
Nelnet has approximately 50 bowlers gearing up to participate in the JA Bowl-A-Thon this year, and Byron’s goal is to help every single bowler hit their fundraising goal in order to surpass what the company raised last year.
“With Byron at the helm, Nelnet will no doubt meet its goal. He is such a passionate supporter of Junior Achievement and it shows through his ‘lead by example’ mentality. I believe he has been Nelnet’s top fundraiser for three or four years! I am excited to see what Nelnet accomplishes this year with Byron’s added support,” said JA Bowl-A-Thon Manager Blake Meikle.