Posts Tagged ‘fundraising’

As a 2007 graduate from the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences, I have received multiple pieces of e-mail and brochures encouraging me to give back to the school and help shape its future. None of these pieces were very revolutionary, simply brochures, letters, and newsletter e-mails.

A screen shot of the e-mail.

A screen shot of the e-mail.

However, yesterday I received an e-mail from the school with a leading question, “See the one question that will shape our future.” In the e-mail was a link that looked like the picture to the right. Once clicked upon, there was a video of a young man talking about the college and number one reason why people do not give back-they have never been asked. So here he was, asking me to pledge to donate a certain amount and help give back to the school.

When the video was over, I was prompted with a form that already had all of my information filled in, all I had to do is verify it was correct and click which amount I desired, which was $25, $50 or my own amount. Once this was done, I was asked if I would like to be contacted by phone, e-mail or mail.

The video player was put on a separate site customized for the school.

The video player was put on a separate site customized for the school.

This innovative design provides a different approach to the ask. In athletics, the school could leverage its relationship with a popular coach or administrator to make the ask, causing potential donors to feel the connection with the school and program. While this may not be good for soliciting large dollar amounts, it could be very effective for getting people on board. The ease of the process made it very easy from a donor standpoint.

The tool was developed by Pursuant Group, a fundraising agency that specializes in building tools for non-profits and other companies looking to increase their development capabilities.

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University of California
Image via Wikipedia

The Regents at the University of California recently approved the financing plan for the reconstruction of Memorial Stadium. The funds, which will be used to renovate and improve the west side of the stadium, will come completely from private donations being raised by the athletics department.

While this approach by itself may seem ordinary, Cal’s approach is truly groundbreaking as the department will fund the project through the Endowment Seating Program (ESP). In this model, the university is asking for donors to “purchase” a seat for an annual fee that can be paid through various payment options. There are four different price level and points as well as four different options. This chart provides an excellent comparison of the seats and the benefits associated with that level.

The ESP, which also has its own website, only affects 3,000 seats in the stadium. Yet these seats will generate enough revenue to not only renovate the stadium, but leave additional funds to create an endowment, one the school is publicizing could eventually reach $1 billion. This would ensure the athletics department a steady stream of income for the foreseeable future.

California Memorial Stadium

California Memorial Stadium

To date, the program has been received well, with 2,000 seats already being sold. These seats, depending on giving level, are held by the donor for a predetermined amount of time (ranging from 50 to 40 years). The seats can be resold or transferred under the donors discretion after payments and the letter of intent has been signed.

The donation for the seat also covers all amenities and the price of season tickets. Participants will be able to lock in the price of their seat for the duration of their endowment, making the seats a fixed yearly payment.

This approach allows donors the ability to choose their seats, not be subject to reseating, and to “own” their seats in the stadium. While this program may not be for all development operations, it highlights a school using a creative approach to fundraising and leveraging their current success to plan for the future.

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The Syracuse Orange Club has partnered up with Burdick Lexus for a uniqie sponsorship.

The Syracuse Orange Club has partnered up with Burdick Lexus for a uniqie sponsorship.

The Syracuse Orange Club has partnered with a local Lexus dealership to sponsor its pre-game tent for football games this football season. The Burdick Lexus Orange Club Tent deal was created by Syracuse ISP and allows Lexus to reach a target customer group in its market. The tent, which is located in the Football Family Fun Zone on the University Quad, is open before every Syracuse home game. Orange Club members are given the opportunity to test drive a Lexus and be entered for a chance to win an Orange Fan Package or a Carrier Dome sideline experience by entering the tent.

This is an example of an athletics sponsorship arm teaming up with its development department on a sponsorship partnership. The alliance between the two revenue generating groups in the athletics department benefits both sponsors and donors. Burdick Lexus, already a major supporter of the Orange Club, gets the opportunity to more actively promote its support of the group on game days. By naming the tent, the sponsor can gather key demographic information about an important customer group in the Syracuse market. It simultaneously provides Orange Club members to test drive a car, including the opportunity to be rewarded with unique Syracuse athletics opportunities.

Many other schools could reach a similar partnership with its sponsorship sales team and fundraising department. By allowing exclusive access to the donors through sponsorship of their hospitality tent, the corporations are gaining exposure to an affluent demographic, while donors receive special opportunities for being a part of the fundraising annual giving club.

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blue turfDevelopment departments looking for innovative ways to boost their scholarship funds should look no further than the “Building the Blue” mechanism at Boise State. The Bronco Athletics Department, in an effort to support their summer school scholarship costs, have launched the program aimed to collect donations as little as $10. Here’s how it works:

The blue turf at Boise State has long been an identifying mark for the football program, and the “Building the Blue” fundraiser builds off that. In an online experience, the blue color of the turf at Bronco stadium has “faded” and fans are being asked to help return the field to it’s “natural” color. For every $10 donated, one square yard of Boise State’s football field will return to blue. All the proceeds go to help the Summer School Scholarship Program. The webpage which the program is built upon shows the progress donors are making towards the final goal. Of course, just like other donations, gifts are all tax deductible.

A program doesn’t need to have the blue turf launch a program like this, however. Similar ideas like “Fill the Stadium/Arena,” “Flood the Pool,” or “Grow the Grass” could be done at schools without iconic landmarks like the blue turf at Boise State. Summer school scholarships or other small goals are perfect for such a program.

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Often during the construction of a new facility, athletics departments will make bricks available for inscription to provide donors with the ability to personalize the new building. It is also a great way for the public support of the program to be commemorated in a permanent location.

Many schools currently offer some type of brick engraving opportunity. However, the pricing on the bricks and location widely vary from school to school. Here are some examples:

Indiana University:
A recently started project, this program offers donors and the general public the opportunity to engrave a brick in Glory Plaza, the entrance to the new North End Zone Facility set to open next week. Most bricks offer three lines of text, with varying levels and sizes, which range between 4×8, 8×8, and 8×8 with an IU logo on the top of the brick. 16 characters are allowed per line, giving participants plenty of room for their personal message. Prices vary between $100 for the 4×8 brick, $300 for the 8×8 brick, and $325 for the 8×8 brick with the IU logo.
northwestern logo
Northwestern University: Similar to Indiana, Northwestern offers a brick engraving option at their Champions Plaza, located atop the south end zone of Ryan Stadium. These bricks, which are the same size options as IU, offer 13 characters per line and donation levels vary widely. The 4×8 brick is $300, 8×8 is $500 and the 8×8 Logo brick is $1,000.

Texas State University: This brick program differs from a couple others in the fact that is offers a wide variety of sizes and inscription levels. The bricks range from the $250 4×8 option with 12 characters per line to the $1,000 8×16 option which allows for up to 28 characters per line. All bricks are placed in front of the south end zone facility.UGA$!logo

University of Georgia: While Northwestern and IU may offer one brick campaign opportunity, the University of Georgia offers four different campaigns in four different places around campus. Here the donors can pick where they would like the bricks engraved, whether it is at fabled Sanford Stadium, the Softball/Soccer complex, or the Men’s and Women’s Tennis center. All sizes are 4×8 and cost $150 to install. Bricks are engraved twice a year in August and Feburary, except at Sanford Stadium, which is done once per year.

These programs are an excellent way for the athletics department to continue to fundraise for facilities once they are built. Donors also enjoy finding their bricks and knowing that they have left their mark on the institution through their charitable gifts.

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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
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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nsulogoAmidst the economic struggles that gave university annual funds fits during the past year, one university experienced record setting success. In northwest Louisiana, the Victory Fund at Northwestern State University showed improvements in nearly every measurable category during the 2009-2009 fiscal year. This success begs the question: what did they do to defeat the poor economy?

According to their recent press release, the Victory Fund at Northwestern State recorded record numbers in total funding secured, Victory Fund gifts, membership, gifts-in-kind, and Board of Directors fundraising. They cited several key reasons for these drastic increases.

First, the department increased efforts to educate their donor base about the contribution levels available and benefits related. In addition, they increased their public relations efforts among their new and established donors. Powerful information initiatives certainly played a part in the increased personal and business donations to the Victory Fund.

The second important piece to the puzzle for Northwestern State was the effort by their board of directors. At the beginning of the year, board members were challenged to raise $100,000 for the department, but exceeded that total by reaching $186,300. The 21 volunteer board members were lead by the university president, Donald Horton.

The final piece to the success of the Victory Fund was the increased marketing and rebranding/logo redesign that the department went through during the year. A new website and improved football and basketball season ticket efforts were essential to the effort.

Northwestern State has shown that a defined strategy and hard work by all parties involved can help development departments succeed (and even set records) in the difficult economic state.

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