What Development department in college athletics or Higher Ed, other than your own, do you look to as an example of effectively executing on multiple fundraising levels (annual fund, major gifts, capital campaigns, key facility projects, etc.)?
Lebron (Tulane): This may sound completely biased, because I worked there from 2012-2015, but I continue to look at the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation as an industry model for how to do athletics fundraising really well. From its consistent annual fund to its philanthropic giving society to the commitment it has shown to facility projects over the course of the last 5-7 years it soundly covers all facets of athletics giving. And, it does so, as a unified front. From interns all the way up to the athletic director, everyone is pulling in the same direction which benefits not only the department, as a whole, but the entire university. This, too, will sound biased, but I am also extremely proud of the fundraising accomplishments we had, and they continue to have, at the University of Georgia. We closed last fiscal year having raised just shy of $57 million which is not only a testament to the amazingly supportive donor base, but also to every single person who works in The Georgia Bulldog Club. Every person on that team contributed to breaking UGA Athletics fundraising records and I am proud to have called them teammates. I pull from those two experiences every day as we strive for greatness here at Tulane.
Smith (Northwestern): As a daily reader of the D1.ticker and active NAADD member I do my best to keep up with what’s going on all over the country at various levels, but find myself often looking at comparable institutions and institutions located in metropolitan areas.
I think UCLA has done a fantastic job of growing their annual fund donor base while transforming and adding new facilities. Stanford is always a place I look to when it comes to examining ways to build perpetual funding and steward those donors who make endowment gifts. Additionally, giving back is simply in the DNA of their institution much like Princeton, Harvard, and other Ivies. I like how Duke has been very specific in stating they want to raise $100 million in philanthropic support to transform their facilities. The Wolfpack Club at NC State continues to be a great model for engaging donors and utilizing volunteers to maximize their reach. I make sure to pay attention to the University of Indianapolis- they don’t have the staff size of the previously mentioned schools, but they maximize their resources to raise funds in support of student-athletes on their campus. Finally, I keep tabs on other Big Ten schools as many continue to evolve from a ticket and benefit driven model to a more philanthropic approach of major gift development. The nuances of the different campuses provide fresh ideas. There are plenty I’ve missed, but the best part is colleagues from other institutions willing to share what has worked and not worked whenever asked.
Locklier (Cincinnati): Here at UC we’ve been fortunate that our donors and UCATS members have embraced some change and new procedures the past few years. We owe a big thank you to the annual fund operation at Ole Miss in helping us develop a new “per seat” model as well as implement some new giving levels and benefit structure. We also leaned on Michigan State when developing some new annual funding models. On the major gift side of things, we always have our eyes open to the latest trends and things that may be working at a campus similar to ours. As we make an endowment push over the next few years we have borrowed some things from LSU and WVU. We also like some of the endowment programs created at Southern California, Texas, and Oregon State as well as the marketing and publicity dedicated to them.
We are fortunate to have great leadership and resources within our UC Foundation that has helped us on the key facility project and capital campaign front. We have a campaign director and several marketing experts within our foundation that have brought some good perspective and ideas from other stops during their careers and have really helped us with our Campaign for Fifth Third Arena. We also borrowed some priority point incentives for giving to specific facility projects by certain deadlines from my time as a graduate assistant at Washington State.
Our goal at UC is to be the “Class of the League” and that applies to our fundraising as well. We benchmark ourselves against multiple Power 5 institutions and are always on the lookout for things that we think can add to our success here in Cincinnati. When it comes to support at the highest levels, I’ve always been impressed with some of the tremendous success that places like Auburn, Miami-OH, Northwestern, East Carolina, and Kansas State have been able to achieve. Those schools always seem to do a bang up job despite some limiting factors such as geographic location, professional sports competition, alumni numbers, and fields of curriculum. In my opinion, the key to fundraising success is taking those tricks and tips from other universities and tailoring them to fit your institution, donor base, geographic location, and culture.