During my final year as a graduate student at Ohio University, I acted as the Development Coordinator for the Ohio University Sports Administration Annual Fund from May 2013 to end of June 2014. The purpose of the position was to fund-raise money to offset traveling costs for students to various conferences, provide Graduate Assistantships, and assist with funding events for on-campus professional development. I came into the position, without any development experience nor did I understand what fundraising truly entailed. I decided to start with the basics.
My first five weeks on the job, I looked through every past donor record dating back to 1967 and created an Excel Spreadsheet to document recent and past giving history. This document provided a prospective donor list of who had been engaged with the program recently and who we had lost touch with.
When it came to reaching out to these individuals, email seemed to be the most convenient option. Every week a batch of 60-80 personalized emails would be sent out and lead to approximately 7-10 scheduled calls with me. During those calls, donors would reflect on their time at Ohio University as a Sports Administration student and would recommend classmates of theirs that I should get in contact with. The power of referrals continued to help grow my prospector list until November of 2013.
Entering the winter months, I took a more aggressive strategy of cold calling unresponsive prospective donors because it eliminated the email barrier and led to direct conversations. At the time it was an intimidating strategy for me to implement, but I knew it was necessary to take the next step towards our annual goal. By the end of the fiscal year, the Annual Fund surpassed previous all-time highs in participation rates, number of donors on the OU Sports Ad Honor Roll, and in total money raised.
It was such a rewarding and exciting experience to fundraise for an organization that both the donors and myself shared a passion for. Regardless if a donation was made, it was still important to make the interaction valuable. Sometimes the prospective donor would not be able to give a gift at that point in time, but they would offer to share their time to assist with schoolwork and classroom discussions. This fit perfectly with the important T’s of a strong alumni base – Time, Talent, and Treasures.
While in the Sports Administration Program as the Development Coordinator I not only enhanced my communication skills, but also built strong relationships with alumni of the OU Sports Admin Program and became a more confident salesperson. All of which have launched me into the role that I have with Turnkey Sports and Entertainment, as the Director of Professional Sports for Turnkey Intelligence.