Oct. 9, 2009
PULLMAN, Wash. – The Washington State University Athletic Foundation announced a new initiative on Friday (Oct. 9) to increase its membership level during the next 12 months.
The goal of the initiative, named 10/10/10, is to have the WSU Athletic Foundation membership level reach 10,000 by Oct. 10, 2010.
“The Athletic Foundation has a number of major projects on the table, with none bigger than the Martin Stadium Phase III renovation,” WSU Athletics Director Jim Sterk said. “But this initiative is vital, because our annual giving to scholarships has not kept pace with our scholarship bill. When we can’t cover scholarship costs with annual donations, it puts us behind our Pac-10 competitors in a significant way.”
“This undertaking is extremely aggressive, but I believe we must set aggressive goals at this time,” said Dan Meyer, Assistant Athletics Director overseeing the Annual Scholarship Fund. “The financial challenges we face require an infusion of new donors to the program. We will continue to push our current donors to raise their commitment to the Cougs on an annual basis, but I want to invite new Cougs to step up and join us in this initiative.
“There are a lot of Cougs in the Northwest and around the country, who, because of time, travel, or family commitments, cannot make a season ticket purchase, so a donation to the Student-Athlete Scholarship Fund is a great alternative for these folks to show support of our program,” Meyer added.
Records for the fiscal year completed on June 30, 2009 indicate that there were almost 6,000 Athletic Foundation members, defined by annual gifts of a minimum of $100 to the WSU Athletic Foundation in 2008-09, nearly double the membership total at the beginning of the decade. That figure has fluctuated from the mid-5,000 to low-6,000 range over the last five years.
Meyer stated that the 10/10/10 initiative will be supported in a number of ways. Among them:
• A focus on increasing gifts from current donors in multiple person households, as those are counted as two Athletic Foundation members for all annual gifts over $200.
• Streamlining and promoting the online donation process
• Greater emphasis on Electronic Funds Transfer and Auto-charge processes
• Stronger appeals for payroll deduction donations to Washington State University Staff/Faculty
• Increased communication with WSU athletic alumni
• Direct appeals to season ticket holders who are not annual donors
• Enhanced appeals to Coug alums outside of the Northwest
• A commitment to better education of the fan base via the Cougars’ official website, WSUCougars.com, and the Athletic Foundation website, wsuathleticfoundation.com.
“The scholarship bill for the last fiscal year was more than $6 million, offset by donations of almost $3 million, resulting in a $3 million gap,” Meyer said. “This gap is covered by Athletic Department operating expenses that would otherwise be directed toward sport program improvements. With tuition increasing by 14 percent in each of the next two fiscal years, due to university budget shortfalls, the challenge will be to narrow the scholarship gap between costs and donations.”
“We are not asking for our supporters, in a difficult economy, to contribute beyond their means,” Associate Athletics Director/Development Chris Walker said. “We have 160,000 addressable alumni in our database, and if all those Cougs gave at a level which would be within their budget, without unduly affecting their basic needs, then WSU Athletics would have all the resources needed to compete for championships in the Pac-10.”
Those interested in becoming a member of the Athletic Foundation have a number of options to consider. At the official website of the WSU Athletic Foundation,wsuathleticfoundation.com, an individual can click on the “Give Now” link to donate online. They may also call 877-IMA-COUG during business hours to speak with a representative of the Athletic Foundation about giving options. Finally, they could simply mail a check for a minimum of $100 to the WSU Athletic Foundation at P.O. Box 641602, Pullman, WA, 99164-1602.
“We hear people say `I would give if only I was asked,'” said Meyer. “This is as clear as we can be to Cougar Nation: We need your support now, even if it is not possible to reach every Coug with a face-to-face appeal. If you have never contributed to Cougar Athletics before, become an Athletic Foundation member with a gift of at least $100 to student-athlete scholarships. And if you are a current donor, we thank you, and ask you to consider raising the bar this year, if possible.”