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Archive for the ‘New Media Activities’ Category

WittenbergWittenberg University and The College of Wooster, long-time rivals in Division III athletics and the North Coast Athletic Conference, are staging the Mascot Face-Off to engage students and alumni. The competition involves voting for each Ohio school’s respective mascot, the Wittenberg Tiger and the Wooster Scot, on a centralized website. The voting started on October 26 and will last until November 14. While increasing school spirit is the main objective of the campaign, the schools are also using the competition as a way to generate donations to each school’s annual fund. With buttons from the competition website linking to each online giving page, distant alumni can vote for their favorite mascot and make a donation in one visit.

WoosterThe competition is using many social media avenues to promote the campaign to the wide-ranging alumni base. The homepage features YouTube videos of each school’s Dean of Students encouraging support from site visitors as well as videos by spirited students promoting the involvement of their fellow classmates. The competition also promotes each school’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, which promote the Mascot Face-Off. The challenge also features an RSS feed that gives subscribers regular updates about the competition.

This is a great example of using a rivalry to generate donations from donors. While many development departments use rivalries in everyday competition, but this campaign is unique as the two schools are working together to generate donations for the respective schools. Schools at every level could benefit from this Division III example.

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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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auburnOn Friday, September 4, the Auburn University Athletics department will debut its newest attraction: Auburn Football: Every Day… This reality-based television show will air once a week and will be dedicated to following the 2009 Tiger football team through pre-season practices, regular season games, and any postseason bowl invitations they receive. The show will give Auburn fans the “inside” look that so many seek out, but few have access to see.

Donors often cite interaction with student-athletes as the most rewarding part of giving to an athletics department. Every Day… provides the supporters of Auburn football with a personal look into life of the football team from the comfort of their own home or computer. A show such as this could provide Auburn with unique opportunities to recruit new members to their annual fund through commercials and advertisements on the show.

In addition, a show like this (at universities not large enough for a commercial broadcast) could also be provided as a benefit to donors. If the show is broadcasted online, a password-access to the content would provide a unique and desirable benefit to supporters. For non-donors, perhaps a fee could be charged to view the material. Based on the success of similar reality-based shows in sports, the benefits of a program such as this are essentially endless.

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cougsAt the University of Houston, the Cougar Athletics Department recently released a new website dedicated completely to the branding of Cougar athletics. The site, PulseofthePride.com, has content dedicated to their student support group, alumni group, links to their facebook and twitter pages, ticket information, and other links all associated with building Cougar awareness.

This unique step in building the brand of an athletics department is a somewhat new tactic. It is hard to find a site dedicated simply to brand-building, especially among non-BCS-conference universities. Perhaps recognizing the potential that their athletics department has in areas like sponsorship and alumni support, this portal will be a key in creating excitement and awareness of Houston Athletics.

This branding effort, ultimately, should also positively impact giving at the University of Houston. Their scholarship fund, called Cougar Pride, is a prominent piece of the new site, and encourages fans to support the education of their 300+ student athletes

Athletics departments who are looking for a new and unique campaign to stimulate giving, support, and sponsorships may consider a directive similar to that of the University of Houston. The new website is only part one of their efforts, but clearly a key aspect in their branding efforts.

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michigan state logoWith the end of June upon us, the fiscal year of 2009 is coming to a close and with it the recording of gifts and pledges. While some schools may operate on a calendar year giving schedule, or even encourage giving with a campaign for a couple months, many use the fiscal year as a way of delegating benefits and counting their efforts throughout the year.

Coinciding with the end of the year is a push to get as much funds through the door before the end of the month. One way of doing this is to make sure that the act of giving is simplified. Michigan State has done an excellent job of this through a well timed press release and a system called DonorNet.

This system allows donors to login with a username and password and see all their recent giving history. It also enables them to give to the university through their own profile page. This significantly cuts down on the hassle of writing out a donation form or calling into the office. Instead donors can give right on their computers from anywhere they get the internet.

Many schools use DonorNet, including Creighton University, Texas Tech, and the Air Force Academy.

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University of Colorado Buffaloes LogoThe use of new technology in athletics development was a major discussion point at the NAADD Convention on Orlando just a few weeks ago. Every school is searching for ways to use social networking, cellular phones, and online resources to boost their annual fund and gifts to the university. At the University of Colorado, Boulder, a groundbreaking effort to utilize new technology may be on the horizon.

According to the Daily Camera (Boulder’s Daily Newspaper), CU is looking into a technology and software package from Mobile Accord that will allow an innovative method of donation, a text message.

The concept is actually quite simple, a donor can make a donation to CU’s Foundation (which will show up on the consumer’s cell phone bill at the end of the month) by sending a text message to a predetermined short code. The amount pledged will then be transfered to the foundation’s account.

The article cited a home football game versus a big rival as a perfect opportunity to utilize the technology, “During a break in play, an announcer could tell spectators to pull out their cell phones, make a donation via text message and see which set of fans can raise more green for their respective school.” With such a captive audience, it is hard to imagine the idea would not work.

The main target audience of this idea is certainly the younger CU alumni and current students. Text messaging is such a common activity amongst college-aged and recently graduated students, it is reasonable to think that this type of donation would be much more appealing to them. While CU has not committed to the technology quite yet, text-donations are likely to catch on quickly throughout the country.

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NAADDThere were several themes that emerged from the NAADD Convention this past week. The role of new media and technology in development, strategies for dealing with the poor economy, and a focus on core values were a few of the main points that were presented at several sessions over the course of the convention. One of the most stressed themes, however, was the importance of personal touch and personal organization in the development process.

“A brochure never raised a dollar – people do.” – Tim Hall, University of Missouri, Kansas City

During the many sessions that took place, there were discussions about twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and other new methods of communication that had everyone wondering when they should jump in and at what level can these new tools be useful. However, nearly every speaker noted how important it would become in the next few years to emphasize the personal touch with donors.

In response to the popularity of technology in development, “Never lose the personal touch.” – Jim Phillips, Northwestern University

Among the skills a good development officer will have, listening and a “thick-skinned” attitude were repeatedly mentioned. Several strategies to encourage a donor to speak about themselves were mentioned, but none of them are effective if you are not a good listener. Don’t take notes during a meeting, one panelist suggested, but be a good listener and write down what you must when the meeting is over.

“Development is about building relationships and asking for money.  Between the two of those is being a good listener.” – Pat Chun, Ohio State University

“Development officers must be thick-skinned and organized.” – Dan DeRose, Donor, Colorado State University, Pueblo

The personal touch does not come without some sacrifice, however. It was highlighted several times that a good development officer has to play their role in the office, on campus, and in the community. Everyone around could be a donor, or could know someone considering a gift to the university. It is essential to represent the university, athletics department, and yourself at all times.

“You must be ‘on’ at all times, and treat everyone with respect.” – Dan Cloran, Xavier University

ADF will continue to post about happenings at the NACDA/NAADD Convention in the weeks to come.

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