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Posts Tagged ‘Practices’

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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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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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The University of Wisconsin just announced their raffle winners.

The University of Wisconsin just announced their raffle winners.

One way to develop a good rapport with donors and show them some added value is the holding of random drawings for annual fund members. These drawings can be structured around a sport season, an important renewal date, or as a reward for loyalty to the program. Those schools that receive donations based on a yearly giving due date will often use these drawings to encourage donors to give back early in the year.

One great example of this is the University of Wisonsin, which recently announced their raffle winners with a press release on their website. Mentioning the donors by name, the article clearly states that the people won based on their annual fund membership. Prizes include a sideline tour for a non-conference football game, dinners before home hockey games, suite access.

One of the best aspects of these prizes is they are all relatively free for the department and will enhance the experience of the donors. In some ways, it may even entice the recipients to increase their donation in order to receive these benefits on a yearly basis.

With the current economy, it is important to show donors as much value as possible for their donation. Chances are the recipients of these gifts will be very pleased with their decision to support.

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Faced with the most challenging economic climate in the past 80 years, intercollegiate athletics are certainly not immune to the pressure. In Champaign Illinois, the University of Illinois has delayed plans to renovate/rebuild their aging basketball facility. Schools around the nation are  dropping sports and considering significant budget cuts. In Washington, Washington State and the University of Washington have considered delaying the renovation of their football facilities due to lack of funding sources. All of these situations can be attributed to the ailing economy.
Each of these occurrences is also directly linked to athletics development departments and their ability to raise funds during these difficult economic times. During such times, specific measures must be taken to account for the changing attitude of donors.
From the conversations I have had with development officers recently and what I have read in the news, most universities have remained optimistic that their annual fund will not suffer substantially due to the economy. However, some adjustments are being made. Some schools are encouraging donors to give to scholarship funds first, and capital campaigns later, citing the need to maintain scholarship money as a top priority.
It is also important to be aware of the financial standings of donors. Development officers must be empathetic to potential donor financial problems, and should not ask at a time when it is impossible for them to give. Universities, instead, can compensate by focusing on stewardship and improving the relationship between them and their top donors.
In the long run, it can be expected that the economy will recover, donor levels will again grow from year to year, and capital campaigns will rebound. However, in the meantime, athletic departments can focus on donor relationships and keeping the annual funds at a consistent level to support student-athletes.

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Even without a team participating in the championship, events held the night of the big game have been used to create buzz about the sport while also raising money.

An excellent example of such an event will happen on April 6th at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. During the championship game for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the university’s Rutgers Court Club will be hosting an all-you-can-eat filet mignon dinner for $50 a plate. Attendees will have the ability to watch the game on big screens and get added insight into the game from basketball coaches and other athletics department celebrities.

This event is a great example of creating excitement around a championship without a team from the department or area participating. The ability to gain extra touches on fans of the program will enhance the willingness to give back and create buzz about the sport.

Other events could be created around the BCS Championship Game, the College Baseball World Series, and other large sporting events, such as the Super Bowl. Creating a party around the event will be another reason to gather supporters and continue to build a community of donors around the athletics department.

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One segment of donors that can be over-looked and under-utilized are a university’s young alumni. Usually caught between school and full-time work, young alumni are often short on extra cash, but still high on enthusiasm for university athletics. It is key to build rapport with these alumni soon after graduation to foster long-term giving relationships. Of course, in these programs, the emphasis is more on participation in annual giving rather than the amount given. Here is a sample of some young alumni giving programs from around the nation:

The Vanderbilt University 2020 Society
is a segment of the Commodore Club that is under the age of 40 that contributes at least $100 to the school’s athletic annual fund. The name comes from the fact that Vandy expects their next generation of athletic donors to come to maturation around the year 2020. The university is encouraging young alums to join by offering discounted football and basketball season tickets for those who have been out of school for five years or less. Learn more about the 2020 Society here.

The University of Virginia Athletics Foundation
is trying something new in 2009 with their young alumni. For each dollar donated by a young alumni (undergraduate degree in the last four years, or graduate degree in the last two years), the Foundation will match the gift made in order to increase the benefits received by the donor. For example, a young alumni who donates $500 dollars would receive the benefits of a $1,000 donation. For more information, visit the UVA Foundation website here.

The Ohio University Bobcat Club
uses a prorated-type approach with their young alumni (undergraduate degree in the last three years). For the 2008-2009 year, depending on graduation year, young alumni could make progressively higher (although still discounted) donations to get credit at the $100 level. For example, a graduate in 2008 had to donate only $25 to be credited at the $100 level, while a 2007 grad had to donate $50. These young alums were then qualified to receive a host of benefits, including: discounted football season tickets, priority seating at football and basketball, Bobcat Club priority points, and the Bobcat Club newsletter. Visit the Bobcat Club young alumni page here.

George Mason University’s Patriot Club
is enticing young alums with the offer of 50 percent off the cost of a basketballs season ticket.  Recent graduates from George Mason who experienced the exhilarating run of the men’s basketball team in the 2006 NCAA Tournament certainly appreciate the opportunity to support their team and the athletic department.  Click here for George Mason’s young alumni page.

Across the board, there are consistencies in young alumni programs:
– Offer discounted or free (see OK State) rates to young alumni to encourage giving.
– Give the young alums access to seats in football or basketball that are better than the general public can purchase.
– Invite young alums to community events to encourage their involvement in the the club or program.
– Include a free t-shirt or hat for making a first-time donation.

To see other young alumni programs, check out these links:

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Sports memorabilia is a staple at every athletic auction

Sports memorabilia is a staple at every athletic auction

Looking for a proven method of fundraising on a college campus? Look no further than one of the oldest techniques around, the auction. Boise State University is one of the many universities around the nation using this simple and effective way to raise money for their student-athletes and athletic departments.

For years, individual sports have held auctions to benefit their specific programs, earning enough money for an extra cross-country road game or new balls for practice. However, to take full advantage of this giving opportunity, departments should investigate hosting a large-scale auction. At Boise State this spring, the Bronco Athletic Association and Boise State University Alumni Association will team up to host their annual Boise State Auction (started in 1983). Proceeds from the event, in their case, go directly to academic and athletic scholarships. According to the Boise State website, over $2,800,000 has been raised during the past 12 auctions, or approximately $233,000 per year. The price to attend the event starts a $150 per person, and climbs as high as $6,000 for a table of 10.

In addition to their live auction held every spring, Boise State also supports an online auction that runs from November to March each year. Items include specialty sports items as well as hard-to-find Boise State memorabilia that dedicated fans and donors would appreciate. The key for BSU appears to be their partnership with the university’s alumni association. By “tapping” into another set of donors, the athletics department is opening themselves up to money that may have otherwise been off limits.

How then, with an auction, can you make the experience above and beyond the typical auction atmosphere? I had the opportunity to be involved in the Aggie Auction, held each May in Davis, California at UC Davis. One of many unique aspects of the Aggie Auction is the degree to which the student-athletes become a part of the event. Student-athletes are invited to mingle with the donors during the silent auctions, they are the servers/wait-staff during the meal portion of the program, and the student-athletes often provide the entertainment during the night. I can promise that few of the attendees of the 2007 Aggie Auction will forget when the men’s basketball team’s 7-foot center took the stage to sing a modified version of “New York, New York” (modified to “Davis, Davis”).

By giving the group of donors at the Aggie Auction a chance to see a side of the UC Davis student-athletes that differs from what is on the field of competition, UC Davis is adding value to the their donor base. When donors feel a more personal connection with the student-athletes of the university they support, their willingness to become further engaged will likely raise.

Of course Boise State and UC Davis are not alone, and many other universities host auctions each year. An auction, be it online or live at the university, can bring an annual flow of cash that will always be welcome. Here is a sample of other such events held at universities across the nation:

Western Oregon, Wolfpack Athletic Auction

Augustana College Athletic Club Auction

Humboldt State University Sports Auction

Drury University Athletic Auction

Georgia College Athletics Auction

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