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UALRThe University of Arkansas at Little Rock recently held their inaugural SpectacUALR event, a silent auction and awards ceremony to benefit UALR Athletics. The event (held in their newly constructed Jack Stephens Center) featured two main objectives, recognize alumnus Annette Fisher as the SpectacUALR Honoree and raise money for UALR Athletics.

Both objectives were met in tremendous fashion during the event which saw over 500 attendees and $180,000 raised to support the athletic department and their honored guest. The funds were raised in a variety of ways as the event promoted ticket sales, corporate partnerships, and a silent auctions. Surprisingly, $100,000 of the revenue generated was from the former two, and not silent auctions (as most benefit banquets do).

ULAR’s new approach to a banquet event shows that auction items are not the only revenue generator for athletics departments looking for big event results. Corporate partners and the ticket office can cash in on the goodwill created by a large benefit event. With UALR hosting the event in their own facility, the costs were certainly kept at a minimum. Their event shows that successful banquets and auctions should not be exclusively for donors, but for corporate sponsors and ticket holders as well.

 

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The athletic emblem of the Bradley University ...

Bradley University leveraged their opening basketball season to help promote an auction designed to be Bradley’s largest fundraising event of the year. The Bids for the Braves Athletic Benefit allowed committed donors and fans the opportunity to purchase $90 tickets to attend the event.

The evening featured a live and silent auction featuring many donated gifts from around the community. The men’s and women’s basketball teams were introduced during the evening and patrons had the opportunity to mingle with them throughout. The gala was held at the Par-A-Dice Hotel and Casino Ballroom off campus.

Often in athletics development, events are looked upon as more “friendraising” than “fundraising” opportunities. However, special evenings that encourage mass participation and include a large amount of donated items allow the athletics department to generate revenue through dinner tickets and auctions. These events are especially effective when they can be combined with the opening of a season or another exciting activity within the department.

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LSUAny successful athletics department will be a active member of their community and seek ways to engage fans with events that take place off the athletic field or court. Specifically, donors appreciate efforts made to bring fans together in ways that are family friendly and involve interaction with coaches and players.

Several universities are taking advantage of a unique fall holiday, Halloween, and incorporating it into an event that will please supporters and the community.

LSU Halloween BOOzar: The week before Halloween, LSU is hosting a free trick-or-treat event for families that will provide children and adults the opportunity to meet various LSU athletes. The free event will also allow guests to participate in activities and get player autographs.

Northern Illinois University Husky Halloween Bash: The Bash will take place on Halloween, between the home football and volleyball games at NIU. The event is free to all, and those who come dressed will be granted admission to the night volleyball game as well. Men’s and women’s basketball team members will be handing out candy, and NIU 2009 hall of fame members will also be recognized during the event.

Vanderbilt: Special pre-game activities on Saturday before the home football game against Georgia Tech are sure to guarantee increased children attendance. Trick-or-treating, carnival rides, live music, and autographs from the basketball teams will highlight the events, and guests can bring as much candy as they can carry into the stadium.

These events, while unlikely to bring in a wave of gifts, do provide plenty of goodwill in the community, provide family opportunities to get involved with student-athletes, and bring supporters to campus for reasons other than a sporting event. In the long run, the gifts may come as supporters become to feel more connected to the university and athletics.

 

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The Tiger Scholarship Club and their letterwinner's society, the M Club, will host a Hall of Fame ceremony.

This post was contributed by Sean Phifer, a MBA/MSA student at Ohio University. Sean is a new contributor to the site and readers can expect more great work from him as we continue to cover the innovations, practices, and results of athletics development departments around the nation.

Almost every athletics department has a hall of fame that honors the accomplishments of former student-athletes, coaches, and administrators. While hall of fame inductions celebrate the great contributions of honorees, they also provide a medium to engage these hall of famers in a giving relationship with the foundation. As many schools prepare their 2009 inductions, their respective fundraising arms will prepare for the giving opportunities they present.

The ceremony is one of the biggest opportunities for development offices to invite both important donors and former athletes back to campus, a vital step in cultivating major gifts and building awareness of their student-athlete cause. Developers across the country use hall of fame banquets to entertain these constituents in a celebratory setting different than the typical athletic event.

A typical ceremony will include former athletes elected for enshrinement, family members of these athletes, other hall of fame members and donors who are willing to pay to attend the ceremony. As with any event, there will need to be marketing and personal invites sent to constituents. In a traditional ceremony, the University of Southern Mississippi M-Club will welcome six new members in its 46th Hall of Fame class on Sept. 18 with a social hour and ceremony. The M-Club, which is a collection of letter winners, coaches, trainers, and cheerleaders, provides members the avenue to continue their support of the university after their days on campus.

Another hall of fame, the M Club at the University of Memphis, will induct seven new members to its hall of fame on Sept. 18. Similar to the group at Southern Miss, the M Club is the collection of former letter winners who remain involved in Tigers Athletics.  On top of the seven new hall members, the ceremony will hand out four other awards to supporters of the university, including Alan Graf, Jr., executive vice president and chief financial officer for FedEx Corporation, a long supporter of Tiger Athletics. This duel celebration creates an ideal atmosphere to celebrate accomplishments on the the field and in its foundation. It simultaneously ensures the event can be used for development purposes, enhancing the revenue generation capability of the ceremony.

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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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