In California and many parts of the western United States, spring has arrived and is in full bloom. Unlike the holiday song, “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year,” that sings of parties, roasting marshmallows and caroling in the snow, I think spring is the best time of the year. Around the country, we go from a cold, wet winter to a fresh new season where the world flourishes, changing color and waking from a long winter’s sleep. In our home city, literal blossom trails follow us on our drives home, with events around town to celebrate the start of the spring season.
Some of the biggest fans of spring, aside from your organization’s special event planners and garden store owners, are baseball fans. I’ve never met a more passionate and optimistic group of people than true baseball lovers who can calculate the beginning of spring with the annual tradition of spring training. This is when professional baseball teams flock to a few of the hottest places in the U.S. and start warming up for the upcoming season. Dedicated fans from all over the country fill up small towns and book hotels in Arizona and Florida to get an up-close look at their favorite players in hopes this is the year the team will win it all. I talked with a few people I know who represent this unique group. Below are some of their comments.
The Magic of Spring Training
“For me, more than daffodils and new leaves on trees, spring training signals the true start of spring. Spring training shows the promise of our favorite teams as hopeful young talent, where solid players new to the team and proven veterans combine on the field to learn to work together. And we get to watch! I find the atmosphere around spring training pretty magical. Those who gather for it, no matter which team they are true to, are in agreement over their love for baseball. Whether in the ballpark or at a restaurant, pub or hotel, we all speak a common language of baseball. If you aren’t wearing a shirt that proclaims your team, someone will ask who your team is. It’s assumed you have one.” – Jill Wagner, Public Relations Expert, Idea Emporium
No matter where you go in and around spring training, you can strike up conversations with complete strangers about baseball and not be looked at as a weirdo. Those who go to spring training are true fans, as devoted to their teams in spring as they are during the season’s closing in fall. And as my daughter always says, “Baseball is love. Baseball is life.”
Spring Means A New Beginning
“Spring training represents a new beginning, a chance to forget the disappointments of last season (for most teams), start fresh, and to begin to work toward your team’s goals for the upcoming season. Like a farmer who plants his crops in the spring, then nurtures those crops until harvest time later, confident that they will be abundant, so the world of baseball begins the process of planning and getting its teams ready for the new season, confident the season will be successful. All teams start the new season with a perfect record. Spring training gives me the feeling that warm, sunny weather is not too far off, and that, somehow, life will be more pleasant once the baseball season begins.” – Dave Kimball, Retired Bookkeeping/Office Management Expert
Relating To The Team
“It’s the one time during the season that baseball feels like golf—something approaching what the average guy can accomplish on a Saturday morning. When I see that my team scored 14 runs, on 5 errors, in one inning, I think, ‘Hey, I’ve played in a game like that before!’” – Donald Norman, Development Director/Political Writer
Taking Time To Regroup
The people I spoke with about their love for spring training all had several themes in common: new beginnings, fresh starts, and an anything-can-happen type of optimism. It is very refreshing, and an excellent reminder for nonprofit or faith-based leaders, fundraising professionals, and boards. It seems like sometimes we’ll come out of winter and focus on everything that is wrong or not going well in our organizations. You didn’t raise enough money last year. Your board does not help enough. If only you had more staff. You need a new donor management system. I’m sure the list could go on and on.
No matter the size or budget of your organization, nonprofit, or church, everyone should take time to regroup and have a spring training of some kind. This could be as simple as closing down the office for a few hours and having an all-staff lunch or potluck, or planning an entire day or two to go over your mission. Take a look at your strategic plan (if you have one), review some of the challenges, and talk about your hopes and dreams as an organization. The purpose of spring training is to renew and refresh. If you are going at the same pace year-round, things fall through the cracks, or staff, board members, and volunteers will burn out.
Hopefully you are approaching your fundraising and organizational goals with the same feeling and attitude most people get when springtime arrives. You can look back and at the same time look ahead in hopes that this year will be a win.