Last Wednesday night was game one of the Stanley Cup Finals between Boston and Chicago. The national anthem at a Blackhawks game is a must-see event. The crowd doesn’t hold their applause until the end…they roar at the first note. I don’t care if you’re a Bruins fan, if you don’t get goose bumps then you need a pulse check. In Chicago, hockey fans know Jim Cornelison, he’s the tenor in the black tuxedo belting out our nation’s number one hit. Most people, however, don’t know that he is from Indiana University, until NBC announcer Mike Emrick mentioned it on national TV – what a great plug for IU!

If you’re in the business of alumni engagement or fundraising, you know how important it is to make your base feel proud about your university or organization. Current events like this one are great opportunities to rekindle their passion – to make alumni feel engaged, and everyone knows engagement is the key to driving activity, whether it’s giving money or time or word of mouth. Everyone close to IU, sports fan or not, should feel proud that one of their own is responsible for leading such an emotionally powerful moment.

Here’s an example of how an observation from a famous running back relates to a university that isn’t his alma mater.

Last week, Jim Brown, the outspoken Hall of Fame running back from Syracuse, made headlines when he spoke about the advances NACSAR has made towards keeping its drivers safe…he’s not too happy about what the NFL is doing for its players. The greatest safety advancement in racing was the introduction of new “safe walls” that absorb the force of an impact and keep that force from injuring and potentially killing the driver. We produced a story on this two years ago…it’s pretty amazing.

Where were these “safe walls” created? No, not by a Fortune 500 technology company or an industry leader in the heart of NASCAR country – the technology was created at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. It’s okay, I bet Jim Brown didn’t know that either, but he’s giving an indirect “shout out” to the entire cornhusker nation. Now it’s up to the folks at Nebraska to make sure that “shout out” gets heard by their students, alumni, and fans. What a great opportunity to take ownership of an accomplishment that showcases how your university is making the world a better place.

Previously, here on “The Works” Jay shared five new ways to think about alumni engagement. There is a movement a foot for new and exciting ways to reach alumni.

Bottom line. Alumni want to be engaged. They are thirsty for moments that make them feel proud of their alma mater, so keep your eyes open for watering holes – they pop up all the time!

p.s. Here is the greatest rendition of the national anthem ever:

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