Archive for the ‘Annual Giving Practices’ Category

As a 2007 graduate from the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences, I have received multiple pieces of e-mail and brochures encouraging me to give back to the school and help shape its future. None of these pieces were very revolutionary, simply brochures, letters, and newsletter e-mails.

A screen shot of the e-mail.

A screen shot of the e-mail.

However, yesterday I received an e-mail from the school with a leading question, “See the one question that will shape our future.” In the e-mail was a link that looked like the picture to the right. Once clicked upon, there was a video of a young man talking about the college and number one reason why people do not give back-they have never been asked. So here he was, asking me to pledge to donate a certain amount and help give back to the school.

When the video was over, I was prompted with a form that already had all of my information filled in, all I had to do is verify it was correct and click which amount I desired, which was $25, $50 or my own amount. Once this was done, I was asked if I would like to be contacted by phone, e-mail or mail.

The video player was put on a separate site customized for the school.

The video player was put on a separate site customized for the school.

This innovative design provides a different approach to the ask. In athletics, the school could leverage its relationship with a popular coach or administrator to make the ask, causing potential donors to feel the connection with the school and program. While this may not be good for soliciting large dollar amounts, it could be very effective for getting people on board. The ease of the process made it very easy from a donor standpoint.

The tool was developed by Pursuant Group, a fundraising agency that specializes in building tools for non-profits and other companies looking to increase their development capabilities.

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Colorado St. RamsIn late June, we wrote about the University of Colorado and their research into using text-messaging as a fundraising tool. At the time, no athletics department had yet implemented such a campaign, but the potential of this type of program was intriguing enough to pursue. Just a few short months later, Colorado State University became the first athletics program to utilize text-messaging at a home football game.

For their home game against the University of Utah this past weekend, Colorado State, with assistance from Mobile Accord, Inc. (owned by a CSU grad), launched its first-ever mobile giving campaign. Fans at the football game (approximately 30,000) had the opportunity to support the university’s Athletics General Scholarship Fund by texting RAMS to a given number. Participants will see a $10 charge on their next phone bill, thus leaving credit card numbers out of the equation. The $10 will then be directed to the university.

At the time of this writing, it is still unknown how many fans participated with a text-gift. However, even a small response rate could yield noticeable results in CSU’s scholarship fund. Other schools, such as Florida A & M University, are also using this technology for fundraising.

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Dan Cloran spoke at the Follett's Sports Business Forum at Ohio University on October 2.

Dan Cloran spoke at the Follett's Sports Business Forum at Ohio University on October 2.

Dan Cloran treated the Follett’s Sports Business Forum with an educational and inspirational presentation on athletics development and advancing in the world of sports. Cloran, the Executive Director of Athletic Development, Annual Fund, and Alumni Affairs at Xavier University in Cincinnati, gave the audience of undergraduate and graduate students many key tidbits to carry into the sports industry.

Cloran outlined his career path to his current position, which includes a stop in the retail world at Sherwin Williams before finding his true calling as the director of development and alumni affairs at Cincinnati’s Moeller High School. While at Moeller, Cloran learned the art of development and went on to work as a Development Consultant for Field Development Consultants.

Cloran described the steps he took to develop the All for One Club at Xavier University, which has led Xavier to double its annual fund during his tenure. While handling most of the day-to-day operations of the All for One Club during his eight years at Xavier, Cloran recently handed over the reigns to Matt Mattmiller to allow him to focus on more of the large donors at Xavier.

Cloran structures his presentation to the large crowd of undergraduates and explained what development really means. He stated that development isn’t fundraising, “that is selling candy bars,” but cultivating a relationship between a donor and the institution. He quoted one of the great developers of all-time, Roberto Clemente, to say, “If you have a chance to make life better for other and fail to do so, you are wasting your time on earth.” This is what Cloran tries to do on a daily basis.

Cloran concluded his talk by talking about some of his greatest success stories while at Xavier. These included cultivating a relationship with one Xavier’s biggest donors by changing light bulbs at their vacation home and helping them with whatever they need to be able to ask them for a donation and receive a commitment on the spot. He also told the story of using Xavier’s first African-American basketball player to show donors the influence they have on Musketeer student-athletes.

Cloran did a fantastic job of giving the audience a view into his every day life as a developer for Xavier University. It was clear to everyone in the audience that this man loves what he does and is very successful at it.

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The Syracuse Orange Club has partnered up with Burdick Lexus for a uniqie sponsorship.

The Syracuse Orange Club has partnered up with Burdick Lexus for a uniqie sponsorship.

The Syracuse Orange Club has partnered with a local Lexus dealership to sponsor its pre-game tent for football games this football season. The Burdick Lexus Orange Club Tent deal was created by Syracuse ISP and allows Lexus to reach a target customer group in its market. The tent, which is located in the Football Family Fun Zone on the University Quad, is open before every Syracuse home game. Orange Club members are given the opportunity to test drive a Lexus and be entered for a chance to win an Orange Fan Package or a Carrier Dome sideline experience by entering the tent.

This is an example of an athletics sponsorship arm teaming up with its development department on a sponsorship partnership. The alliance between the two revenue generating groups in the athletics department benefits both sponsors and donors. Burdick Lexus, already a major supporter of the Orange Club, gets the opportunity to more actively promote its support of the group on game days. By naming the tent, the sponsor can gather key demographic information about an important customer group in the Syracuse market. It simultaneously provides Orange Club members to test drive a car, including the opportunity to be rewarded with unique Syracuse athletics opportunities.

Many other schools could reach a similar partnership with its sponsorship sales team and fundraising department. By allowing exclusive access to the donors through sponsorship of their hospitality tent, the corporations are gaining exposure to an affluent demographic, while donors receive special opportunities for being a part of the fundraising annual giving club.

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The Badger Fund offers a wide array of benefits for multiple donor levels.

The University of Wisconsin recently treated their donors to a special event at Camp Randall Stadium prior to the opening of the season. Donors who gave at the $2,500 and above to the Badger Fund were invited to the event, which allowed donors the unique opportunity to view a practice.

Additionally, donors in attendance were able to meet Badger Legend Ron Dayne and view a special highlight video on the stadium’s video screen. Following the video, the group received a post-practice season breakdown by head coach Bret Bielema and his assistants.

This event is an excellent example of a benefit to give to donors who show a high level of commitment to the program. The inside access that comes with watching a practice and then receiving a pep-talk from the Head Coach allows donors to feel that the school and program appreciates their contributions.

Another positive for such an event is the relative low cost. While some refreshments may have been provided, the practice, video screen, and chalk talk does not require much money from the development office, keeping the event cost low and manageable.

In a time when all entertainment entities are looking to add value to their product, providing inside access for committed donors will increase the likelihood for repeat giving and a foster a sense of appreciation.

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The Tiger Scholarship Club and their letterwinner's society, the M Club, will host a Hall of Fame ceremony.

This post was contributed by Sean Phifer, a MBA/MSA student at Ohio University. Sean is a new contributor to the site and readers can expect more great work from him as we continue to cover the innovations, practices, and results of athletics development departments around the nation.

Almost every athletics department has a hall of fame that honors the accomplishments of former student-athletes, coaches, and administrators. While hall of fame inductions celebrate the great contributions of honorees, they also provide a medium to engage these hall of famers in a giving relationship with the foundation. As many schools prepare their 2009 inductions, their respective fundraising arms will prepare for the giving opportunities they present.

The ceremony is one of the biggest opportunities for development offices to invite both important donors and former athletes back to campus, a vital step in cultivating major gifts and building awareness of their student-athlete cause. Developers across the country use hall of fame banquets to entertain these constituents in a celebratory setting different than the typical athletic event.

A typical ceremony will include former athletes elected for enshrinement, family members of these athletes, other hall of fame members and donors who are willing to pay to attend the ceremony. As with any event, there will need to be marketing and personal invites sent to constituents. In a traditional ceremony, the University of Southern Mississippi M-Club will welcome six new members in its 46th Hall of Fame class on Sept. 18 with a social hour and ceremony. The M-Club, which is a collection of letter winners, coaches, trainers, and cheerleaders, provides members the avenue to continue their support of the university after their days on campus.

Another hall of fame, the M Club at the University of Memphis, will induct seven new members to its hall of fame on Sept. 18. Similar to the group at Southern Miss, the M Club is the collection of former letter winners who remain involved in Tigers Athletics.  On top of the seven new hall members, the ceremony will hand out four other awards to supporters of the university, including Alan Graf, Jr., executive vice president and chief financial officer for FedEx Corporation, a long supporter of Tiger Athletics. This duel celebration creates an ideal atmosphere to celebrate accomplishments on the the field and in its foundation. It simultaneously ensures the event can be used for development purposes, enhancing the revenue generation capability of the ceremony.

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Baylor_logoWhen Baylor University wraps its “Victory With Integrity Capital Campaign” at the end of this giving year, it is likely that their goal of $90 million (over five years) will not just be reached, but smashed. The campaign, which has funded facilities, endowments, and the annual fund, will see its goal increased from $90 to $100 million during this home stretch.

Like any university engaging in such a large campaign, Baylor’s staff and coaches have undoubtedly put in the extra effort over the last five years to see their goals reached. However, the annual fund has nearly more than doubled in the past four years (approximately $3 million to well over $6 million), and Baylor’s volunteer program is certainly giving the Bear Foundation the support it needs.

The Bear Foundation volunteers, of which there are around 3000, give their time to reach out to other Baylor alumni and friends for gifts to the athletics department. The volunteer position, complete with a job description, position application, and calendar of events (on the Baylor Fund Drive website), requires participants to renew their annual gift and bring on at least one new member each year.

The Bear Foundation also makes it easy for the volunteers to succeed.  First, there is a phone-a-thon for volunteers to take part in during the fund drive, where they can all reach out to prospective donors in a comfortable setting.  Second, there is a Linked-in group for Baylor volunteers to help them expand their personal contacts and improve their network.  Finally, the Bear Foundation offers fantastic rewards to volunteers, which start with the recruitment of just one new member or $600 new dollars.

The success of Baylor’s campaign, considering the economic troubles of late, can certainly be attributed to the growth of its annual fund through volunteer efforts.  Any university looking for examples on how to invigorate their annual fund should review the practices at Baylor University.

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