||36th NACDA Convention|
Salt Lake City, Utah
June 10-13, 2001
NCAA Division III Breakout Session
Trends in Fund Raising
Tuesday, June 12, 11:00 - 11:50 a.m.
We'll go ahead and get started. I'm Debbie Lazorik, athletics director at Marietta College and a member of NACDA's Executive Committee. Our session this morning is entitled Trends in Fund Raising. Speaking this morning will be Peg Brown, vice president of development at Rhode Island College and Kim Record, senior associate athletics director at Florida State University and a member of NACDA's Executive Committee.
Peg will begin by discussing what has been done at small colleges and present you with some very practical ideas on planning and implementing for athletics fund raising. Kim will begin to discuss on how you can identify special groups and utilize those groups as part of your overall fund-raising strategies.
Thank you Debbie. As many of you know, NAADD and NACMA just finished some very well attended seminars this past weekend, where many of the issues in fund raising and marketing were presented. Key among the issues discussed was often the relationship between the development officer and the AD, and the development officer and the AD to the central fund raising office or foundation office. Also, some of the key issues were the trends in fund raising at all colleges, whatever size they may be. Many of the small colleges, all of whom were not Division III, expressed what they considered were some unique problems. I think Kim and I would agree the problems are much the same whatever division you happen to be.
The charge to this panel today was to provide some very practical, first-hand experiences on what we've done at some of the small colleges that might be helpful to you. I've focused my remarks on Rhode Island College's start-up efforts. I hope they can offer some guidance to you who are just getting started in fund raising or have experienced some transition in leadership or have low or no staff or are feeling the pressure that all of us are feeling to enhance our programs with private dollars. All of this is coming at a time when sponsorships and commercialism in college athletics is likely to fall under some criticism with the report to be issued in a couple of weeks. Let me begin and, hopefully, encourage some questions along the way.
The first thing I want to say is that if you don't have the ear of your CEO or your president, you might want to go to another session. Make no mistake, fund raising begins at the top and if your CEO is not on board with fund raising in general, let alone fund raising specifically for athletics, your job is almost impossible. He or she needs to make those calls. They need to provide you with resources that you're going to need to make it happen. Anything else that you have will mean very little if you don't have the commitment from the top. I don't know how you do that.
In a small shop, you must also have a strong line of communication between the athletics department and the central development office. In the past, perhaps some of you experienced situations that are not wonderful in those lines. You must do that because there is little staff for data management and collection, for access to limited resources, for institutional records and for their experience in fund raising activities. As we'll point out, a lot of the money on the table in the future is going to come through planned gifts. That expertise can, hopefully, be found in your development office if you don't have the opportunity to add it to your own staff.
You need to capitalize on what is really good about what athletics has and that is the strong loyalty of former athletes, employees, alums, the pride that athletics and athletics facilities instill in your entire institution. The fact is you often travel to areas where there are pockets of alumni that as athletes you have more access to on a regular basis than perhaps the development office has with limited travel. You need to use your student-athletes when they're traveling. Lastly, you need to recognize what your limitations are. Division III does not raise money for scholarships. It's an important hook for other divisions that we don't have. We don't usually have very big perks to offer. We don't use priority seating and parking passes and access to bowl games, so it offers some challenges, which we don't face if we're involved in big time athletics programs.
I want to give you some facts to suggest that your efforts are well worth your trouble. There's a lot of money on the table in spite of the economic downturn and the uncertainty with a lot of things that are happening in the high-tech market. Giving to charities last year rose 6.6 percent. That might not mean anything, but that translates into $203 billion. Education receives the second largest amount, second only to religious causes. It's also important to note that if you're thinking I don't have any businesses or corporate offices around me, that individuals account for 87 percent of those gifts. If you don't have the Coca-Colas in your back door, it doesn't exclude you from receiving a great deal of private support.
Another fact we like to talk about as fund raisers is that the estimates of the transfer of wealth between 1998 and the year 2052 are estimated at a low of $6 trillion to a high of $24.8 trillion. The average age of those people who gave away $1 million was 46 years old, not 65 or 85. The average age where people make their first will is 44 years old, the average age when people make their first charitable gift is 49. Maybe some of those statistics reinforce your need to think about planned giving for athletics as important as in any other area.
One of the things Kim will particularly address is, despite our impressions, women will and do control the bulk of the wealth. You need to think about that if you focus traditionally on male-oriented fund raising committees and activities.
To get you started, let me tell you a little bit about Rhode Island College. I came there about five and a half years ago, two months behind the athletics director, Don Tencher. We came into an environment where the president had been in office for eight years, but had been at the college for almost 50 in various administrative capacities. There wasn't a lot in place either on the athletics side, in terms of fund raising, or on the development and alumni side. Luckily, Don came up to my office and we had a conversation where we looked at each other recognizing that often development officers and athletics directors get into adversarial situations and agreed at the very beginning that this would be a collaborative effort and a strong one at that. It has been.
One of the things we've been able to do with that collaborative effort is that whenever I'm talking to prospects, I keep in mind the needs of the athletics department. You never know where those other interests might lie. On of my very favorite stories was a gift that came to Rhode Island College in the form of a $25,000 check to start a scholarship in memory of a sister who was a graduate. The sister who gave the gift was not a graduate. In talking with that woman and sitting down with her and her husband, it turns out her husband was one of the dominate NCAA cross country runners in the nation in the 1940s. They brought out his medals and gave us some of his background. I got Don involved. The runner was not an alum of Rhode Island College either. He was an alum of the University of Rhode Island, which is 35 miles down the road. He was a member of their Hall of Fame. They've never followed up on it. I have to admit, when I first looked up her address, it was in a pretty modest neighborhood. Those are the things you check before you go out and call and try to figure out how much money they might have. They were in their 80s and I found they didn't own their own home until seven years previously. You might think, how much resources can these people have? Don't ever make that judgement. We had just renovated the track for $350,000. We convinced Sarah that the track should be named in honor of her husband in the center of Providence where it could be a community resource. She not only donated many more thousands of dollars to name the track, but she went on to make us a hefty part of her bequest. Neither one of them were alumni.
We had something else that was a little unique to Rhode Island College. Our gym burned down. I don't necessarily recommend it, but it turned out to be a real good thing. Not only did we get a brand new building, but a lot of our memorabilia was destroyed and it turned out we never had a permanent Hall of Fame. We had named some individuals, but we had never isolated a place, put up the plaques and had some festivities. So, we reintroduced the Hall of Fame. The first year we brought back everyone who had ever been named to the Hall of Fame. It cost us about $25,000 in plaques alone. We didn't expect to make any money and, sure enough, we didn't. We had a wonderful dinner, a great cocktail party, a feel good kind of feeling and a reconnecting for our Hall of Famers, not all of whom are alum, and their families. We did a first-class job. We got people engaged. We had to put money out there, but we got people engaged.
Don was also able to hire a sports information director. Not only did his duties include the usual, as well as upgrading publications, but we also had Scott very involved in getting our newsletter off the ground, which focuses on Anchor Club or booster activities. We put out what we consider some very upscale programs for sports for all of the seasons and in general. We did something to elevate the impression of our athletics program, not only internally which is sometimes just as important, but externally as well. We started a booster club. We introduced it at the next Hall of Fame. We got a key volunteer and Hall of Famer to chair it. We did a great power point presentation. We put Charlie Wilkes face up there, brought him up to the podium, we had booster pins made, booster club pamphlets made. We put them out on the table for after his speech and we were off and running.
The giving levels for that booster club ran up $1,000 plus in the first year. We put a special plaque in the Hall of Fame to honor those people who gave at the $1,000 level. The first year we had only five names. So what? It gave us a lot of incentive to move on. I should also tell you that on that plaque are the names of our president and our athletics director. I can't tell you how important it is for the public, both public and internal constituency to recognize that you made an investment in your program at the highest level or at least at the leadership level. We do give the donors opportunities to specify what sports they'd like to support, but we always encourage unrestricted support as being the most difficult to raise, but the most important for the group.
The newsletter, as I said, was published and I brought a couple of issues with me. You'll notice on the cover is always a message from the director of the Anchor Fund. Just who is that? We have a rule in Rhode Island when you retire from the state you can only work so many hours or make so much money. We happen to have an individual who is a Hall of Famer, been in education all of his life, who retired. In the winter and spring seasons, he scouts for pro baseball. He wanted something to do for the rest of the year when he wasn't living in Florida. We hired him at $10,000, he works for our booster club. This gives us some staff throughout the year who can make calls, arrange reunions for individuals in sports, bring alumni back to basketball games, follow up with receptions, schedule presidents receptions.
In addition, the athletics director also publishes a column twice monthly in our 12-page newspaper that goes out to more than 38,000 alumni and friends. It's one column down the side of the page, recognizing donors, highlighting stories and highlighting our student-athletes. Every other week the development office, and on the alternate weeks, the alumni office, do a similar column in which we often pair with or reflect what is happening with donors in athletics. I focus on certain people in my column; Don focuses on the athletics donors in his column. Every week, 38,000 people are being prodded about giving and about athletics and how great it is when you do give.
We work with alumni to research past athletes. We've actually had student interns sitting in the alumni office for weeks going through past yearbooks. I don't know about you, but our records were almost non-existent. We got a couple of students go through and write down names, look up people's numbers, try to start to build a database that way.
We piggyback on all of our alumni and development activities like homecoming, which was also something that was non-existent five or six years ago. We have the Hall of Fame Dinner on the Saturday night of Homecoming. We try to piggyback on the fact that alumni are coming back. We make sure that alumni reunion classes know the years that our Hall of Famers have graduated in. Some of them can say, I graduated with X, Y or Z, so I really want to come to that dinner. Again, we're not making a lot of money on the dinner. We're building our network and we're making people feel good.
There is also the whole area of special events; I like to say the good, bad and the ugly. Special events are a real pain in the neck. They usually require more time than you have and they raise less money than you hoped, at least at our level. We must do them. It's a way to get in front of the public, it's a way to cultivate, a way to profile and a way to get publicity. We do a couple of special events. The most important one for athletics is the annual Sports Auction. The president gets on board and sends out a letter of invitation to every senator and legislator. He invites them to a special VIP reception before the auction at 5:00 p.m. There is an open bar with hors d'oeuvres. At 6:30 p.m., the auction opens to the public. The public purchased tickets for $10. Most of them are complimentary but we don't care, we just want to get them in there. We have seven or eight tables with 50 pieces to bid on. We have live auction items. The first year we did this, we wanted to kill each other. Screaming and hollering, we got out of there at midnight. Since then, we've gotten pretty organized and have some good ideas. This year, we grossed an all time high of $25,000. We make sure the band is there. We make sure the students are the watchers at the tables. We keep students in front of people at all times. We cultivate the legislature, which for us as a public institution, is ultimately the people who sign the checks anyway. It's a feel-good night.
We also worked with alumni and development when athletics are traveling. We accompany the teams on their special events to Florida, California. In each case, we always research the alumni in that area. In our magazine and newsletter, we say we're coming. We send out postcards to invite them to receptions where they meet Don, the president, student-athletes at various sites around the state that we're in. Yes, we put a lot of mileage on the car. Yes, we don't sit by the pool that often. It's been one of the best things we've done. Those photographs appear in our magazines. Last year, we had alum that has a home on the San Jose golf course. They were big Stanford fans and we capitalized on their interest in basketball. They hosted the entire New Year's Eve luncheon. Our students got a great experience. They also attended a reception at the home at the president's home in Palm Springs where there were lots of alumni. They don't want to talk to you and me, they want to talk to the kids. You need to keep that in mind.
Alumni and development often dropped letters for the president to send to alumni who appear in the news, whether they've been promoted, taken a new job, won some kind of honor. They get a personal letter from the president of the institution. When that story relates to athletics, I always send a copy to my athletics director and he, in turn, follows up with another letter. Labor intensive pays off. I must also admit that we send out a lot of t-shirts.
We also started to engage students because we are primarily a commuter campus. Only 10 percent of our 8 or 9,000 students live on campus, so we face the challenges that community colleges face. That is difficulty in developing an identity with students who are currently there. Don instituted our own form of Midnight Madness for all winter sports represented. We put challenges between the dorms on campus. The winning dorm is taken out to the local chicken farm for dinner. Food always works. We give away pizzas and ice cream sundaes. We get the president to make a fool of himself. He dresses up as John Travolta. We had him ride on a Harley across the gym floor in a leather jacket. The kids love it. It does a lot for the spirit and it's something they remember when they move out of the college.
We also have a student-athlete advisory committee. We have a student-athlete academic center. It was given by a donor who made a $10,000 gift. He was, again, not an alum. We did business with him. He owns a sports shop and attends our action. We told him how much we needed to highlight our student-athletes and the student part of our athletes. We have this great new facility and we asked him how he would like to equip a room with computers that we can take advantage of. We named the room for him, we held a dedication ceremony, he got a lot of mileage out of it. He received awards from the community and from the newspapers. We had a winning situation. At our college, the student academic center is mandatory. It is required six hours per week for all freshmen athletes in and out of season and for students who are struggling academically. At first, they saw it as a punishment. We hired a retired teacher as an advisor. The kids love him and he looks like Santa. They finally figured out that going to study hall was a good thing. They got a lot of assistance and support. Now, we're looking at the fact that we need another room to keep those activities going. It's required and it turned out to be a real resource.
We've also solicited donations on the occasions of retirements of well-loved coaches. We have pledge cards for you in the back of the room. You can add to this on your own.
What have we been able to do? We have a booster club whose membership is growing every day. We are able to generate annual support for trips and enhancements. We've opened and equipped the Student-Athlete Support Center. We have completely redone the baseball and softball fields, all with private money. We have built dugouts, which we never had before. We have built beautiful press boxes, which we never had before, all with private money. We've created a first-class Hall of Fame. We have outfitted the fitness center and the rec center and we've done an incredible number of capital projects around campus, all with private money.
Where are we going? We're entering a capital campaign. The college is going to be 150 years old in the year 2004. We've never had a comprehensive capital campaign and, to be quite honest with you, when we went out for a feasibility study, athletics didn't test very well. The only people who know that are the people who sat on that committee, because athletics is a part of that campaign and needs to be. It didn't test well because I think there's still the perception about state institutions. We're Division III, and we don't have a lot of flash. We have a newspaper columnist who isn't always complimentary. One of the quotes he made once and one that we use in a lot of our literature is, "if you're looking for purity in college sports, go look in Division III." We use that a lot when we're talking about creating the whole person, the whole student on a college campus. Maybe that will be helpful to you.
We've also purchased a new software system through the foundation and the Alumni Association. That prospect tracking system is also going to be installed on a computer in the athletics department. They need to have a way they can tie into the main system on tracking prospects and when they make calls and they make contacts, they need to be able to put in the data and we need to know about it.
We are also continuing to explore lots of other areas, certainly sponsorships. We approached Verizon with an interesting idea. The athletics director noticed that somebody in our division has lighted their softball and baseball fields with towers that cell users had piggybacked on, to use as towers to transmit their cell signals. I had gone to a leadership program with the CEO of Verizon. I asked a friend of mine who is with Verizon how she would like to light our fields, use it for their cell signals, win-win situation? Unfortunately, in Providence they have too many cell towers, but we put it out there because you just never know. I thought that was pretty creative thinking.
Don and I always laugh about how we would have taken $50 five years ago and been happy with it. Last year we looked around and saw a whole lot of flowers and balloon vendors on campus during graduation. We asked, what is this? We went to conferences and said we would take over those concessions. We would try it one year and see if it works out. Don said he would do it. Keep all of the outside vendors out. The vendors called and said they would give us $500 to let us in, we'll give you $1,000 if you let us in. We knew we were on the right track. This year, we took over the concessions for flowered balloons and all of that money went into the discretionary fund for the athletics department. It sounds ridiculous, but it's both ends of the spectrum. We need to do whatever it takes to keep athletics in front of the news, in front of the public and a priority on campus.
I'll end with a trite statement that is really important for all of us to remember. People give to people. They do not give to institutions. They give because they have relationships with you, with your coaches and with your student-athletes. They can give their discretionary money anywhere they want. You need to cultivate those relationships that will result in support for you. Make no mistake, relationship building on any level takes time, energy and capital. You need to make it clear to the people to whom you report that it is not going to happen overnight, it's not going to happen next year. It's going to take three to five years and you need to get people on board with that. The dividends are tremendous, not only to our programs, not only to our students, but also to our donors who feel good and to the entire community that benefits. Some practical ideas, and I hope some of them will be useful to you. Kim will talk a little about targeted fund raising. Thank you.
Thank you Peg. Please don't you all run out of the room and think just because I'm at Division I-A that I have nothing to offer or that I'm going to make you feel guilty, bad or depressed. I feel those things every day in my job, just like you do. I thought the transition was good as Peg said, people give to people. We also say the purest of sport is in Division III. There are many more commonalties than there are differences. I've had the pleasure of being at Rhode Island College and working with Peg and Don and it's very nice to share ideas and realize there really are more similarities in what we do every day. It's just a matter of relativity. We may have more resources, but that doesn't mean that it's enough.
We're always looking for more.
What I do at Florida State is not primarily fund raising. I oversee eight sports, oversee the marketing and media relations. When people ask me if I'm a fund raiser, I would answer, "no, I'm not." But, we all are, every single one of us who works in athletics is a fund raiser because we're raising funds for students.
Indulge me for a minute to give you a little bit of history and set up what I'm going to talk about. I'm sure that you do sit out there and ask what are Florida State's needs? What do you have to worry about at Florida State as it relates to raising funds? Actually, in 1851, what is Florida State started as what was called the seminary west of the Sewanee. There were two institutions and one was developed for males. That is what is now the University of Florida, which is two hours down the road. The other one was for women, in Tallahassee. Not the best of names, so in 1904, it was renamed to be called the Florida State College for Women. It was one of the premiere institutions in the United States at that time. In 1913, women's athletics were very strong. They had a very unique and wonderful competition called Odds and Evens. Women who graduated in odd years competed against women who graduated in even years. These were very significant competitions, so competitive, that people were charged to attend. Again, this is 1913. We didn't have football at Florida State. There was no concept of football at Florida State.
In 1947, end of the war, re-evaluation about state education brought an end of Florida State College for Women and created the Florida State University. With that came intercollegiate athletics for men, some believe the bane of our existence, some think it's the best thing that ever happened to Florida State. At that point in time, intercollegiate athletics for men began to take off. Football didn't start at Florida State until 1947. In 55 years, the history and tradition of Florida State football, we compare the history and traditions like Notre Dame, Florida, Tennessee, schools that have hundred and hundreds of years of expectations.
Women's athletics lost their prominence from the time men arrived until 1968. There were great female athletes during that time, but no one really cared about it. The university joined the AIAW and the NCAA. There were separate programs. When they combined, the women's staff got lost, in some respects and faded away.
I'll bring you to the present, 1995. Dave Hart was hired at Florida State. He brought me in from the University of Virginia and I had never overseen sports. We put together a management team that said we were going to be committed to being very good in athletics and all of our programs. Again, historically, you look at football, baseball and all of our other programs, except for softball on an inconsistent basis, had really not been that competitive. One of our challenges was that women had been totally disenfranchised. We had this whole group of alumni that had graduated and bled garnet and gold for their school totally disenfranchised from athletics and did not believe that we cared enough to make a commitment. We didn't have any evidence.
Believe me, I heard from some of these women at events I would go to. Our facilities were poor, there were lots of things that needed to be done. So, for the first couple of years, I hid from them trying to learn what it was that I had done to not be successful there. We then decided to stop trying and we were going start doing and create some evidence.
We started by celebrating 30 years of athletics at Florida State University. They laughed at me. People celebrate 20 years, 25 years, what is 30 years? That's where we were. We needed to do something to give our fans and our donors a reason to believe that we cared about athletics and women's athletics in particular.
That's what I want to talk to you about. Volunteers are the basis of all that we do. You can have as much paid staff as you want, but if you don't have your volunteers and they're not committed, it's very difficult to reach out the way you want to. We called it the Committee of 30. We don't have 30 people on the committee. Sometimes they get real upset that we need 30 people, but 30 was a way to connect with what we did that year.
That committee is charged with educating the public, women in particular, about the history, value and status of women's athletics at Florida State. They are also charged with demonstrating, through education and involvement why a tradition of philanthropy is so important to an athletics program. We have men on the committee. This is not a men versus women committee. We actively encourage that committee to cultivate and bring prospects to us for gifts for women's athletics. The goal is endowing women's athletics.
Our university endowment is $150 million. That is not a lot comparing whom we compare ourselves with. Two hours down the road, the University of Florida's endowment is well over $500 million. Our athletics endowment is $20 million. Stanford University said they had $250 million just for athletics. Again, it's all relevant in terms of your numbers.
We're in the middle of a capital campaign. We need $70 million, $45 million for facilities and $25 million for scholarships. Our annual budget is $32 million. That's not enough. You ask any one of our coaches and it's not enough. Our scholarships are almost $5 million.
Over the last five years, we've been able to fund all of our women's programs to the NCAA limit in scholarships. I know it's different for Division III. We built new facilities. They cost money. We've given the full coaching limits and we've increased operating budgets. We've insulated our coaches and told them we now expect them to graduate student-athletes and win. If you don't do that, then we need to look at leadership changes. That's very different than it was 10 years ago.
After three years, we've been trying to decide what our committee's mission is. One of the things they knew is that the women who graduated from Florida State when it was FFCW had money. These women have lots of money, but they don't give it away. That's one of the trends you see. Giving for women and giving by women is very different.
We brought in a woman from Texas, Ann Abby from Abby & Associates, who came in and opened a lot of our eyes, not just the women on the committee, but our athletics director and our development staff. She showed us that women don't give like men do and, in particular, athletics. It's like anything else, there are gender differences. That's a reality. Why would it be any different for fund raising? What do women like to do? Why do they like to give? They look for hands-on involvement into programs and projects they care about. They are more likely to give if they can create a new program instead of giving to an existing program. They seek a close personal connection. These things don't cost money; it's all about relationship building. This one is very true and that is they demand continual update on how their money is being spent. Men do not do that. You ask a man for money, they give you the check and they go away. If you lose some games, they may come back. Women want to know what you're doing with their money. That's been a little challenge to continue to communicate consistently with groups of women on what we're doing with their money. They don't like unrestricted gifts. They think it's going to go to football or basketball or whatever that primary sport at your school is. They're more likely to volunteer their time.
Communication style is so critical. Women like to talk more. It's probably not anything new for you. They like to build relationships. They do interrupt less when you're talking. They like to be included. Small talk is really important. You don't have to do that with men. You really don't. It takes a little bit longer to get money out of women, but you have to build that relationship. In the past three years, we have had more socials, more dinners, just relationship building, talking one on one and talking in small groups. When we go into these things, we have to remind the men that we're working with that you just can't go in and announce that you need $1 million. It just doesn't work that way. The cultivation takes a lot longer.
Younger women don't mind, but older women don't like to talk about money directly. The women on our committee who are over 65 years old are very energetic, they get uncomfortable when we say we need so much money and this is what it's for. They like to talk about it indirectly. It's a challenge because a younger women, 30 or 40 years old say, this is what we need to do, let's go out and get it done.
Those are all things you can do on your campus. You can get a committee together. There are women in your program that care about your program. They probably have money you don't even know about. It's just a matter of how you get them to give. Women are not motivated by competition, status, peer pressure or recognition. Younger women have the tendencies to be motivated by those things, but the women we're looking at in terms of all of our programs for a donor base are not.
If you go out, and I see this everyday, if you get someone to donate $100,000 to your program, this guy goes out and tells his buddy. The other buddy is going to give $175,000 because it's competitive. That's the nature of how we've grown up in athletics.
There are traditionalist women, women born from 1910 to 1930. We all have alumni on our campuses that fit into that category. They were influenced by the Depression. They value money, they value community, but they certainly don't like to give their money away. They will do a Will gift. We have a lot of trusts to athletics from women in that category. If they are married or if they're not, they like to give anonymously. They don't want their name on a building. They'll put their husbands name on the building, but not theirs, even if it's their money. The new older women, from 1931 to 1945, are beginning to invent themselves. There is some loyalty to institutions, but they still prefer to restrict their gift. They'll give a gift to tennis or golf or women's basketball. Their concerns are more with women's issues, child welfare and education. They are a little wary about talking to people about money because they are not sure what you want to do with it.
We all know the baby boomers, women born from 1946 to 1964. Women are beginning to make their own money decisions, they're into financial planning and they're concerned with retirement. They are still community minded. They are not giving for loyalty so much, but they want that accountability. They want to know what you're going to do with that money.
Generation X resists the separate focus on women. They did not experience, for the most part, any discrimination. They were born after Title IX was enacted. I see this everyday. They don't understand that tradition or that fight, while some women won't give because they experienced those things. Generation Y is from 1976 to 1995 and they have a much more global focus. They hold values of our earlier generations, traditional values. They care about the institution; they want to give back.
The biggest thing in terms of to women and for women is that women need to be educated about giving. We spend a lot of time just educating them about philanthropy and what's important and what we're doing on our campus. Some want recognition, but you don't see that very much. They are beginning to learn that they can leverage their dollar to get what they want.
Let's talk a little bit about a Committee of 30. They are a great group of people, they really are. They are not all women. Most of them are local to Tallahassee, so it's been very interesting that we got two or three of them from out of state. It's been hard for them to come in. We have quarterly meetings. We're in the middle now of finishing up a strategic planning session. We brought in a consultant to figure out what their mission is. A lot of times with volunteers, they tend to tell you how to run your department. I'm sure that's not much different in your school than at mine.
We have two special events. Peg did say they take a lot of work, but these have been two of the best things we've done. In the fall, we have a brunch on Sunday of our Homecoming weekend. People want to come back for football. That is leverage we have to use. We can't look at that as a negative. That is very much a positive. We recognize older alums that have, pre-scholarship, been successful in their business and then we recognize a post-scholarship younger female. We call this the Championships Beyond the Game Brunch. Our current student-athletes attend that brunch. Our endowed donors attend that brunch because that's an important connection between them and the kids. It's also a way to get our current student-athletes to understand about giving, who came before them and how they impact the future. Our event in the spring is called Sports Fest. We try to do it around a weekend where we might have women's basketball and softball games. We invite all of our women alumni back to experience a number of different activities.
We have partnerships with our boosters, which is our fund raising organization. We have partnerships with our varsity club. We are celebrating our 150th anniversary this year. We involve our coaching staff. We use our newsletters. All of these things are not rocket science. It's about building relationships and looking at women differently. You've got alumni at your universities and colleges that can give you a million dollars. I don't doubt that for a minute, but getting those million dollars out of them is a challenge.
In closing, I would say that it's been three years since we started this endeavor. We've doubled our gifts to women's athletics since 1998. In 2000, we had our first $1 million donor. A women about 55 years old, played volleyball, loves sports and did not want any recognition. It took about seven months for her to understand that it was important for us to say that she gave so that women would understand that it's okay. I would be glad to take any questions from the group. Thank you.
As the athletics director 10 years ago that was charged with one-third of her responsibilities be fund raising, a little bit of what Art Eason said, but you don't know how to get it started. We put together a brochure about capital fund raising, if anyone's interested. We raised $1.2 million. I will quickly give you 10 points that must be in place at small colleges. It's the reality check and they have to happen. Number one, you must be a part of your overall college's development effort. It must be an integrated effort with development. Secondly, it must be an umbrella effort. We talk about coaches and individual teams doing their own programs, their own fund raising. It must come under the umbrella of intercollegiate athletics which then is a part of your overall development staff. Thirdly, is it transactional or is it relationship building? You just heard from our two speakers the importance of relationship building. There's another philosophy that says transactional. They write you the check, we take it, it goes in and we talk to you two years later. Patience, because it will take identification and cultivation. Next, know the difference between annual fund raising and capital fund raising. Your booster organizations are annual fund raisers. Organizations like the athletics founders board are capital fund raisers. There's a much different philosophy and approach to it. Identify your core group of volunteers. Again, you heard our speakers talk about the importance and understand who your real workers are. Communicate to your alumni how those gifts are used. This is one thing I learned. People will not give to airing your dirty laundry. They want to be a part of something positive. They want to be a part of something exciting. When you have a coach that grabs that donor at one of your hall of fame banquets to moan and groan about the lack of equipment, resources, in hopes that that person will come along and give a gift, you've probably shot yourself in the foot. Going back to that umbrella, all of your coaches, everybody has to be a part of that fund raising. Airing your dirty laundry, in our experience, is not the way to motivate donors. Evaluate all of your areas. It has to become a mind set. You have to look at all that you do and how can it be a part of utilizing your donor base. Alumni, parents, the sub groups that Kim just talked about, your hall of fame, your special award winners, how can you recognize them? How can you utilize your current special events? Particularly in the area of travel, what you can do on the road in identify and creating your databases and sharing all of that information as an integral part of your development. Most importantly, you must eliminate the fear factor. There is an enormous amount of fear on the part of development officers because they feel if they allow intercollegiate athletics to become a part of the fund raising that will suck up all of those resources. You do have a lot of influence. You have a large constituency with your alumni base so it becomes your responsibility as the athletics director to begin to eliminate the fear factor. You can start with alumni directors and move your way up to the vice president of development. Ultimately, that's what needs to happen.
From the Floor
What are the pros and cons of a mailing as far as the successes and failures you've had in a mailing to the entire alumni group?
Usually mail appeals are connected with annual fund raising, that is renewable gifts of a smaller nature and they have to be done every year. I think you do have to do a mailing or two. You need to make it simple, make it easy to respond to, don't make them pay postage to send it back. In conjunction with that, you need to make follow-up phone calls. This year, for the first time, even though the booster club is in it's third cycle, we did run, under Art's direction, our part-time scout for baseball, phonathons this spring where we trained student-athletes and had them do the follow-up phone calls to previous donors to enhance their current gift or to donors which we had discovered along the way to make a gift.
Although I think everybody's expectations are way up here, we did very well for the first time out of the box.
I also want to add in terms of follow-up, when a person makes a donation to athletics everyone from $5 to $1 million, gets a personal letter from me. Depending on the amount, they also get a letter from the president and a personal letter from the AD. You may say, is that overkill? Not when you don't have the relationships in place, you can never thank them enough.
You do need to do a mailing. You need to make it easy to return. You need to make it at no cost to them and you need to highlight what is really important to you. Our Anchor Club mailing brochure highlights our student-athletes. That's our focus. We do give them an opportunity to check off sports. We encourage unrestricted funding. We recognize that people have affinities to what they played or lettered in.
The other thing a mailer is good for is they may not make a donation, but if you make it easy to return, you've asked for information. What sports did they letter in? You might not have this data. We didn't. What is their current address? If you send it our first class, your changes of addresses will come back. Any list is only good for six months. So, whether or not you get a gift, you often get some information that helps you put them on a list so you can keep in contact with them. Sometime in the future, they'll buy into something.
To follow up on the mailing, the one thing we found to be most effective is a handwritten personal note from a student-athlete to acknowledge a gift. We don't do it a lot and we don't ask our coaches do it a lot, but particularly if it's a restricted gift to a sport. A volleyball player responded to a woman who gave a $50,000 endowment. She thanked her and told her how much she appreciated it and hoped to meet her sometime. Eighteen months later, they met at an event that we have. She's given us more money because of that.
Okay, thank you very much and thank you Peg and Kim. I think it's time for lunch.