March 2, 2011
Donors to Rice Athletics will notice a return of a familiar phrase when they receive their new materials for the school's current fundraising initiative. The Owls Development efforts have returned under the banner of the Owl Club, as part of an overall restructuring of the athletic department's drive to increase funding for student-athlete scholarships.
"One of our top priorities and needs in our athletic fundraising is a strong annual fund through the Owl Club," Rice Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan said. "The more money we can raise toward student-athlete scholarships, the more funds we will be able to dedicate to growing our program and meeting our goal of being a nationally competitive broad-based program.
"Our goal for this year is $1.8 million and $2.0 million in 2012 - these goals are ambitious compared to previous years but it's vital for our program to realize significant growth in this area for us to meet our department goals," Greenspan stated.
The restructuring of Rice Athletics' annual giving policies and procedures were instituted following a process which encompassed feedback from numerous donors, including an organized focus group comprised of Owl Club donors, season ticket holders and the R Association Board of Directors, as well as representatives for the various Sports Interest Groups, including the RBI, Extra Point, 3-Point Clubs and the Women's Athletics Advisory Board.
Two basic principles were identified after these meetings:
- Our annual fundraising practices were confusing and were in need of simplification.
- The Owl Club, the annual fundraising arm for student-athlete scholarships, needed to be more clearly defined and enhanced in order to meet the department's annual budget.
"As our athletic program and specifically our football program continues to progress, our Owl Club will play a major role in our success," Rice head football coach David Bailiff said. "I look forward to reaching out to our Owl Club donors in any way I can to make sure they understand how important they are to Rice Athletics."
Associate Athletic Director for Annual Giving Kim Koehn '00 will serve as the Owl Club's executive director.
"We are excited about the direction of the Owl Club and the streamlining and simplification it brings to our fund raising process and the emphasis it will place on our annual fund raising," Koehn said. "Anytime there are policy changes of this magnitude, we understand that there will be questions. We encourage our donors to review our printed materials and the Owl Club page on Riceowls.com and to call the Athletics Development Office at any time," she added.
Highlights of the new policies include:
- Priority seating charges for season tickets have been eliminated in an effort to streamline the fundraising process and reduce ticket prices. Donor seating priority will now be established for all sports based on an annual gift to the Owl Club as opposed to every premium season ticket being assessed a required donation. Location, number of seats and access to discounted premium seats will be based on annual Owl Club giving levels. More information on ticket pricing may be found in the upcoming season ticket information.
- While the department will continue to encourage donor preference in offering participation to those who wish to designate their donations to specific sports programs through the Sports Interest Groups, it has become necessary to avoid the confusion and the competition that exists between the Owl Club and the Sports Interest Groups. Since Owl Club funds are a significant revenue stream for the annual scholarship budget, it has become necessary to make many benefits (seating, parking, etc.) exclusive to Owl Club donations for the purpose of growing our annual budget and enhancing the competitiveness of our athletic program. Ultimately, it is the goal of the department to grow our annual fund (Owl Club) to meet the competitive needs of each sports program, and special interest fundraising will be designed for special projects (facility needs, etc.).
- Three new donor levels will be offered , including a $50 Owl Pride level, which is exclusive to Rice letter winners and Rice University young alumni. (A Rice alum who graduated within 10 years of the solicitation year is considered a young alum.) Beginning in 2011, Owl Club donors will receive discounted, reserved season ticket pricing, an Owl Club cap and a lapel pin.
- The solicitation calendar will now run from January to December, instead of within the fiscal year cycle. Owl Club memberships begin immediately upon making a donation and benefits are for the year that your gift is given.
All individuals who have made a donation to Rice Athletics in the last three years will be receiving a personalized letter from Greenspan, as well as a document outlining the changes in policies regarding donations and the new Owl Club brochure. All of the changes to the Owls' fundraising efforts are also available online .
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