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Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Throughout the country, one of the biggest questions faced on a daily basis is how to get the graduates who received diplomas in May to donate to athletics within the next twelve months. While this segment may not represent the most wealthy, engaging the recent graduates early will enable involvement for a longer period of time, which will eventually lead to more gifts. ADF has posted on this topic before, and has sought out more examples from around the nation due to reader interest.

north-carolina-state-logoNorth Carolina State University, one of the most successful annual giving arms in the nation with over 20,000 members, offers a unique way for young alumni to build up in their giving efforts. Giving increases from complimentary the first year, to $30 the second, $60 the third and $90 the fourth, all while gaining priority points at the lowest level, which will benefit the donor down the road. Additionally, the young alums are given a window decal, a monthly newsletter, and invitations to events. To read more about this program, click here.

Indiana University has a similar model, giving young alumni their first year of membership for free. Upon receipt of their registration, the Varsity Club sends out a donor package that consists of a welcome letter, a window decal, membership card and a license plate with the Varsity Club logo. Perhaps the most interesting part of this deal is the license plate, which if placed on a vehicle, has the ability to increase the club’s branding and awareness among young alums.

Elon University
Image via Wikipedia

In addition to these successful athletics programs, there are also many non-athletics young alumni giving programs. Duke University has over 3,300 young alumni who graduated between the years 1998-2008. Their unique solicitation methods include Young Alumni Development Councils, reunions, and young alumni peer networks. Elon University recently launched a new program to host regional networking opportunities for members of their annual fund.

Many of the young alumni programs from around the fundraising industry all include a few basic tenants: reduced rates, complimentary gifts and networking opportunities.

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NAADD and Ohio SAFMDuring this past year, Matt Kirinovic and Mike Milliron compiled data from a survey conducted for the NAADD organization in an effort to gather the best practices and peer comparison analysis from the industry. The two alums of the Ohio Univeristy Sports Administration Program were kind enough to share the final products of the research with Athletics Development Frontier.

The data was collected through an online survey of over 200 schools from around the nation at all levels of competition, from Junior and Community Colleges all the way to D-1 FBS. Kirinovic and Milliron also conducted 30 personal interviews to gather some qualitative answers to questions.

To see their findings, please click the below links to view their PowerPoint presentation as well as their written deliverable. There is some very useful information and real life data to be found within the documents.

NAADD PowerPoint

NAADD Written Deliverable

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Chapel Hill gained $6.4 million in one football game this fall.

Chapel Hill gained $6.4 million in one football game this fall.

A recent trend in college athletics has been the disclosure of economic impact studies of athletics departments. Perhaps brought on by the recession, these studies are proving the worth of a strong athletics program to their surrounding community.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently released a study done on one specific football game against Notre Dame. According to the study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University‘s Center for Sport Leadership, the game brought $6.4 million for the Chapel Hill and Orange County economies. The study also states that the game raised $325,000 in local and state tax revenue.

The Ohio University Center for Sports Administration and Facility Management recently conducted a study for the athletics department on the economic impact of their program for their community. This study uncovered an economic impact of $8-10 million to a region of the state that has been historically economically stagnant.

While these studies can be applied directly to sponsorship revenue, they can also be used to build strong community relations. As a development officer, it is increasingly important to show the value of your program to the community. For those donors who are intrinsically motivated to give, knowing their money will also impact the surrounding community may be worthwhile information.

Additionally, for those departments with Gift-In-Kind giving programs, having such a number in literature and as a talking point can help sell the local businesses to provide trade as the value of the department has been quantified.

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Last week I found a handful of academic research articles that reported on intercollegiate athletics development and the many factors that accompany fundraising success. One article in particular, Scoreboards vs. Mortarboards: Major Donor Behavior and Intercollegiate Athletics, proposed a few questions that I thought were worth discussing on this site. The following is a review of the questions posed and brief description of their results (the university studied for this article was the University of Oregon, between 1994-2002). For the complete research article by Jeffrey Stinson and Dennis Howard, check out Volume 13 of the Sport Marketing Journal from 2004, pages 129-140.
Who gives to educational institutions in support of academic and athletics programs?
The research conducted for this study supports the notion that non-alumni donors contribute more to intercollegiate athletics, while alumni donors usually donate more towards academic programs. However, “although alumni donors do give more to academics, they also donate large amounts, both in terms of average gift amount and percent of total gift, to intercollegiate athletics.”
Does winning have a significant impact on giving?
For athletics, yes. In this instance (University of Oregon between 1994-2002) the success of the schools major sports programs had a direct correlation with an increase in Athletics giving. During this time the average donation of major gifts (above $1000) increased by an average of over $720. However, the increase in giving to academic programs by alumni was not as strong, suggesting that athletic success did not necessarily mean larger academic giving.
Does an increase in athletics giving lead to a decrease in academic giving at the same institution?
The findings in this research suggest that increased athletic success may have the following results: “some alumni are reducing or eliminating gifts to academics while increasing gifts to athletics…and new alumni donors are making more gifts to athletics than academics.”
Stinson and Howard provide some causes for their findings, such as tangible benefits. Better parking at games or an improved seat location may lead a donor to switch their giving from academics to athletics. Also, it is speculated that donors, when giving to athletics, feel they are supporting the athletes in an academic sense as well, thus leaving them with the thought that they are “getting the best of both worlds” with only one donation.
While it is notable that winning increases donations, I feel that the real value provided in this article is the motivation behind some alumni donors. The article suggests that alumni donors will be persuaded to donate to athletics if they feel their donation will have a positive impact both on athletics and academics in the department.  Development officers can look at their presentation to prospects (especially alumni), and emphasize academics to attract new donors.

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