Posts Tagged ‘College athletics’

Dr. Kevin White spoke to students at the 2009 Ohio University Sports Administration Symposium

Dr. Kevin White spoke to students at the 2009 Ohio University Sports Administration Symposium

During this past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 2009 Ohio Sports Administration Symposium. The annual event held every year invites alumni back to campus for a round of speakers and networking opportunities. This year’s weekend saw speakers such as Alice Petzold, Consultant at Wasserman Media Group; Dr. Kevin White, Director of Athletics at Duke University; and 2009 Distinguished Alumnus Len Perna, President and Chief Executive Officer, Turnkey Sports & Entertainment.

From a college athletics perspective, Dr. Kevin White provided a good deal of knowledge stemming from his 37 years of experience in the industry. Instead of focusing on a specific topic, Dr. White addressed many aspects of the college athletics industry. Speaking with a deep passion for the student-athlete, Dr. White spoke on the importance of “delivering what you sold them.” He commented that current student-athletes are savvy consumers who get offers from many schools and compare visits throughout the nation. Therefore, it is crucial to provide for your current student-athletes the experience that was promised them in recruiting as current student-athletes sell the school to prospects.

Hidden in this observation is the ability for development to impact a student-athlete’s experience. As coaches tell the recruits about the university and the current direction of the program, the ability to enhance their time on campus with new facilities, gear, and nice travel amenities will be crucial to attracting top recruits.

Dr. White also spoke specifically to students and young professionals, commenting that everyone should put in three to five years of solid work at their first job. If they do this, working hard every day and delivering of their employer, they will never need to apply for another job. People will recruit them away from their current position.


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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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Ole Miss has recently started using a staff blog to increase communication.

Ole Miss has recently started using a staff blog to increase communication.

As blogs become more prevalent, college athletics’ sports information offices are quickly jumping on board. Most schools have some type of official blog where information is provided to fans. Examples of these can be found at the University of Kentucky and University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill.

However, a interesting twist on this set up is currently occurring at the University of Mississippi. While the other blogs are focusing on the action on the field, this blog has been set up to provide insight into the staff and administration behind the scenes. Past topics have ranged from compliance issues to the challenges facing the UMAA Foundation.

This innovation can be used as an increased avenue for communication to donors and others fans of the department. Many times fans wonder what people do within an athletics department. This allows them a little peak behind the scenes while also serving as an extra touch and communication medium. Yet just like the Facebook post earlier, if a blog is to be launched, it will need to be promoted and updated, just as any regular website would.

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