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Posts Tagged ‘cultivation’

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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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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
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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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logo_niu1This past weekend at the NACDA convention many schools discussed the difficulties they faced with former student-athletes giving back to the program. Many reason were debated, such as a bad experience, their coach getting fired, and feeling as if they had already given back through their athletic careers.

What this boils down to is a need to get creative with the former student-athlete giving programs. Northern Illinois University had done just that with their intiatives to increase former student-athlete involvement in their Varsity Club.

One great idea was sending a Huskie Letter of Intent. This letter, which appealed to the recipient by asking them to sign a “second” letter of intent with the school, recieved their highest response rate of any mail piece for the year. Within the text, there were highlights of the Varsity Club as well as details on the intiatives for greater participation and the importance of giving back.

In addition to the letter, the Varsity Club sponsored several events throughout the year, including the Hall of Fame dinner, senior awards banquets, and other student-athlete ceremonies. This allowed for greater brand awareness from both former and current student-athletes while costing very little money.

These are just some of the great ideas that have enabled Northern Illinois’ Varsity Club grow in both participants and dollars raised. The school has done a good job of laying a foundation for future success in the soliciting of former student-athletes. Click here for more information.

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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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MSU's New Heated Golfing Range

MSU's new heated driving range

EAST LANSING, MI- Through the beginning of the month there have been several facility openings across the country. Michigan State recently opened a heated driving range facility for use by their men’s and women’s teams and the public. Located on the university’s golf course, Forest Akers, the driving range will be used throughout the year as the heated stalls will allow athletes to see their ball in flight throughout the year. This facility will work in conjunction with The Rearick Golf Complex to provide the student-athletes with year round practice capabilities.

NEW HAVEN, CT- Yale University recently opened the newly renovated Reese Stadium, a facility used for lacrosse and soccer, this past week. This marks the end of a two phase renovation project kickstarted by a naming gift by Jon and Jason Reese in 2006. The second phase was funded by a “Winning Goal” Campaign which called upon former lacrosse and soccer players to make donations ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 to support the program.

Phase I saw the installation of an artificial turf surface and new lights into the stadium. Phase II, which was just recently completed, includes a new entry plaza, press box, team rooms, new and expanded seats and hospitality areas. The entry plaza posts the name of every player to participate in Yale soccer and lacrosse, as well as a special donor plaque area.

For more information concerning this project, please click here.

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Mark Mulder attended MSU's first pitch event.

Mark Mulder attended MSU's first pitch event.

While March typically signifies the heating up of basketball action across the country, it also marks the beginning of the NCAA baseball season. With the familiar ping of aluminum bats being heard across the country, several programs are seeking to take advantage of rising popularity of the sport.

There are several departments from around the country that are creating “First Pitch” events and dinner for fans, staff and donors. These events typically include a highlight of former players, which in the case of Michigan State included legends such as Steve Garvey and Mark Mulder, a dinner and awards ceremony. The dinner is where the funds are primarily raised, with money being charged per plate in addition to silent auctions of baseball gear and trip opportunities.

These events serve as a direct way to connect with former baseball alumni and raise funds for the program. Typically held in early February to enable professional players a chance to come back to campus, the money raised here almost always will be restricted to the baseball program. However, this is a vital way raise awareness and build a solid connection with alumni and fans.

Other examples of baseball first pitch events were held at Virginia Tech, Utah, and Temple just to name a few.

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