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The University of Arkansas has expanded the breadth of the Razorback Foundation, Inc. to include all 19 of its intercollegiate sports. The Razorback Foundation, Inc. has taken over the operations of the Women’s Athletic Annual Fund upon a vote by the Razorback Foundation Board. This move now allows for a more focused fundraising approach for Arkansas as it attempts to expand its current donation efforts.

The Razorback Foundation has worked for its seven male sports while the Women’s Athletic Annual Fund oversaw the giving efforts for the 12 women’s sports. The Razorback Foundation coordinates the annual fund drive for Arkansas athletics and oversees the priority seating for each of Arkansas’ revenue generating sports. The athletics department’s development staff performs the ask for major gifts for Razorback athletics.

The move, effective July 1, 2010, centralizes the foundation for the 19 Arkansas sports and 460 student-athletes. Other schools have performed similar moves recently, including the University of Tennessee, which was highlighted in an article on this site. Tennessee consolidated the funds from its separate men’s and women’s athletics programs. Combining funds development teams to have a more focused approach to generating donations. Consolidation also allows for greater foundation synergy as programs have one team working towards greater development goals. It also provides for a simpler scenario for those donors that want to give to both men and women student-athletes. This works particularly well at schools like Arkansas and Tennessee that have major revenue generating sports for both men and women.

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One area of athletics development that is often overlooked is athletic training and sports medicine. These are crucial areas to any athletics department as they help keep student-athletes healthy during their respective schedules and throughout the off-season. There are three main formats for collecting donations for the sports medicine and athletic training areas: adding to a current facility, including it in a new facility, or building its own facility.

Adding to a current facility is a great option for facilitating a smaller gift. Sam Houston State used this platform in accepting the donation of a new ultra sound machine for its athletic training facility. A former athletic trainer, Billy “Doc” Wilson, who worked in that role at Sam Houston State for 20 years, donated the ultra sound machine. Generating donations from former athletic trainers or sports medicine staff provide a new demographic to solicit for donations.

carmelo anthony centerSyracuse University included brand new athletic training rooms when it built its state-of-the-art Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center. The athletic training rooms were an essential addition to the building plans to ensure the physical fitness and health of the basketball team. Along with the training rooms, the Melo Center includes a hydrotherapy room with top-of-the-line pools. Recognizing the benefits of athletic training is essential when building any new facility.

The University of North Carolina took a different route by building the Stallings-Evans Sports Medicine Center. The university is tripling the size of its current athletic training center with the facility. The center will serve the majority of UNC student-athletes while also housing the university’s exercise and sports science classes. The Rams Club is working with the university’s foundation to build the facility, using brick donations as a revenue generating effort for some of the final funds. Partnering with the university’s foundation is an upside of working on an athletic training and sports medicine center that include academic departments in those areas.

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Martin Stadium

Martin Stadium opened September 30, 1972.

Washington State University is using town hall meetings to speed the process of Phase III of its Martin Stadium Renovation. The third step in the four-phase process will feature the addition of luxury suites, loge boxes, and club seats atop the north stands of the stadium. The WSU Athletic Foundation hopes that the town hall meetings will lead to the investment in 80 percent of the club seats. If this level is reached by December 18, the renovation can be completed by the 2011 Cougar Football season, one year ahead of schedule.

Portions of Phase I and Phase II were completed between September 2007 and August 2008. Phase I included the addition renovations to the restrooms in Martin Stadium, new stadium entrances, and year round ticket office. Phase II involved another allotment of restroom upgrades, a new parking area, and a new entry gate. Each of the first two stages involved improving areas that often plague a fan’s experience at athletic events: restrooms, parking, and concessions.

There will be six town hall meetings held in some of the cities with the most Cougar supporters. Five will take place in the state of Washington (Pullman, Seattle, South Sound, Tri-Cities, and Spokane) and another in Portland, Oregon. The town hall meetings will feature Washington State Director of Athletics, Jim Sterk, and members of the WSU Athletic Foundation staff. The town hall meetings will be open to the general public with special invitations sent out to supporters in each particular area.

Town hall meetings allow foundation staffs to get in front of supporters while encouraging their participation in the planning process. By taking these presentations on the road, Washington State was able to get face-to-face meetings with many potential amenity purchasers. This is crucial for the all-important third phase of the renovation that requires mass participation to close each of the boxes and club seats. Washington State also kept the meetings open to the public to allow potential donors who might not be on its radar to attend the event. Town hall meetings can be a great tactic for development staffs to use for a variety of objectives, but it is important to limit their use to prevent over-kill with potential attendees.

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IPTAYClemson University celebrated IPTAY Day during the Tigers’ game against Wake Forest this past Saturday. IPTAY Day involved the club presenting its annual check to the student-athletes at Clemson while also providing recognition for the club as it enters its 76th year of operation.

IPTAY, which stands for I Pay Ten A Year, was started in 1934 as an Ivy League-esque secret society to support the struggling Clemson athletics department. The club’s support over the years has helped fuel the on-field and off-field success of Tiger student-athletes as the club has generated funds for scholarships, facilities, and improved systems in campus structures. Today the club has over 19,000 members and contributed over $21 million last year.

This is one many IPTAY Days that the club does at Clemson sporting events over the course of the year. The events not only celebrates the long-time support of the club but also gives the club much needed exposure to Clemson fans that aren’t currently a member of the club or a supporter of Tiger Athletics as a whole. By devoting an entire game to its club, it allows Clemson to honor the fantastic contributions of the club throughout the course of the year, while providing one game for every out-of-town member to circle on their calendar as a game to attend. Many athletic funds do celebrate the contributions of its athletic clubs with check presentations, but very few devote an entire day to its contributions.

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kent stIncreasing donations from females is a goal for many athletic funds across the country. However, it is difficult for development officers to identify preferred giving strategies for this demographic. Why does this group have vital importance for athletics departments and their annual funds? Various estimates place females controlling between 40 and 60 percent of the national wealth by the end of 2010. Females also make up 58 percent of undergraduates at colleges and universities in the United States, making women a key target today and an even more important group in the future. Fortunately, there are a number of different ways to involve females in a university’s giving efforts.

One way to involve female donors is by linking them with women’s sports at the school. Kent State’s Blue and Gold Athletic Fund recently achieved this with its receipt of a $1.2 million gift from former associate athletic director Judy Devine to help support the university’s Centennial Campaign, which is celebrating its 100 years of existence. The gift will fund the Judy K. Devine Athletic Equity Endowment, which initially will support the athletics department’s female equity initiatives and eventually fund the continued growth of all Golden Flash student-athletes. Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton stated that Devine’s gift “will allow Kent State to be a leader in addressing gender-equity issues as they pertain to Title IX, and is once again a testament to her remarkable vision of the modern needs of our athletics program.” Devine’s gift ranks as the third largest gift in the history of the Blue and Gold Athletic Fund and sets a standard for donations in the new campaign.

Another method used by many development offices is to involve women in major revenue sports such as football and basketball. Rob Norris wrote about football clinics for women used by the University of New Mexico and the University of Kentucky among others in an earlier post on this site. Similar efforts could be conducted for men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, and softball. These events have the potential to excite the female donor base and provide an intimate and exclusive setting to cultivate or create relationships.

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uo_logoIn an unusual series of events taking place over the last few weeks, the University of Oregon Athletics Department and (specifically) head football coach Chip Kelly have generated sizable goodwill capital. After a disappointing loss at Boise State to begin the season, one Oregon alumni and fan wrote the head coach to request a refund for the fans travel expenses from Portland to Boise. In a surprising response, the coach wrote the fan a check for the $439, which was later returned with a thank you note from the fan.

When coaches, especially those in high profile positions, reach out to alumni and donors in an unexpected way, the donors are typically impressed. After all, donor/coach interaction is the main reason so many coaches participate in fundraising events such as banquets and golf tournaments. However, one must wonder what the potential effects of Coach Kelly’s response may be to Oregon and other programs across the nation. Will enabling fans/donors such as this only elicit more complaints such as this in the future? In addition, how might this effect the development office at Oregon, and how might it change their relationship with this donor?

Time will tell if the coach’s response to the complaint will generate mass goodwill, or just more letters to the football offices. In either case, this gesture has certianly brought some positive PR to the Oregon Football team, and has made at least one fan a supporter of Coach Kelly for life.

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Ohio Bobcats logo
Image via Wikipedia

This past week my class at Ohio University had the privilege of hearing Dr. Donna Lopiano speak on many topics ranging from marketing women’s sports to impact of media on college athletics. Drawing on her past experience as Director of Women’s Athletics for the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Lopiano also gave ten tips for raising money for your organization.

1.) If you ask for advice, you get money; ask for money, you get advice

This premise comes from the logic that your donors are successful people who will appreciate being asked for their opinion. Essentially, they will feel as if the development officer is looking to them for their expertise.

To do this, begin by telling the story of why you need their money, what dream it would fulfill and the positive effects that appeal to the donor. Then ask for their advice on how the dream can become a reality. This will often lead to them either giving more contacts or a monetary donation.

2.) Grow and engage a contact list

The larger the list of contacts or potential donors the better, increasing the probability of successful gifts. The next step is setting up a relationship building event, whether it is a long lunch or a dinner party. During this event, a relationship with a potential donor can begin, where the development officer should be in contact at least twice a month, whether through email, phone call, or hand written note. One nice touch she mentioned was send them an article about your program with a hand written note on the top.

3.) Always think in terms of utilizing a gift to generate more gifts

Dr. Lopiano had a unique way of looking at the asking process. Often times during her asks, she would say she needed 10 people to give $10,000 and ask if the donor knew others who would be willing to give. This causes the donor to think of others, or open their own checkbook to the amount being asked.

4.) Donors give to people with work ethic

A strong work ethic is essential from the outset. Donors, especially for ones who made their own money, know what it takes to be successful. Essentially they are making an investment and want to give their money to people who have the work ethic make the donation worth every penny.

5.) Always focus attention on 20% of your donor population

In Dr. Lopiano’s view, a good development officer will focus on the top 20% of donors who have the ability to impact the program in a major way. This does not mean forgetting about annual giving, but instead having people and strategies to grow that without consuming a large amount of time and energy from the major gifts officers.

6.) Building a circle of influential people

People will know and support your program if there is a solid base of donors who are influential people in the community. In building a culture of success among your donor base, it will become more attractive for other wealthy people to join. This can come through the creation of an advisory board or special events for those who have the ability to impact the program.

7.) Believing and acting in partnership

This partnership stems from the reciprocity that occurs during the donation process. Each donor has their passions and interests in life and by asking what you can do for them, the relationship will only grow stronger. People of wealth believe in efficiency, and in helping them out, you will build a connections that will benefit both parties.

8.) List what is important for a donor

This is the basis for all major gift asks and it involves doing your research. Donors will be interested a wide range of opportunities. Some are interested in the branding of their name, which will involve naming rights gifts. For others, it may be autographed memorabilia, inside access, etc. Bottom line, do your research on your donors.

9.) Mimic the practice of large institutional programs

While your university or college might not have the resources of some of the larger programs, build on the assets that are available. Essentially this revolves around making your events and programs exciting to attend. Whether it is a the new practice facility or perhaps a star player returning to campus, having a draw at an event will increase participation and help you tell your story.

10.) Play all of the multi-media avenues

Use all available channels to get your name and university in the public conscience. This can be through an effective website, writing a column for a local paper, or promoting your program through social networking opportunities. In doing this, the program and your name will be available through many avenues. With the advent of the internet, many donors will google your name before they meet. Having a large amount of hits will increase your profile and their reception of you.

Dr. Donna Lopiano is the former Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Sports Foundation (1992-2007) and was named one of “The 10 Most Powerful Women in Sports” by Fox Sports. The Sporting News has repeatedly listed her as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Sports.” Dr. Lopiano also served for 18 years as the University of Texas at Austin Director of Women’s Athletics and is a past-president of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women.

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