I worked at Oklahoma City University from 1991-94 as an Athletic Development Officer. My baseball coach at the time devised a plan that he called “Phase III,” which detailed the revamping and improvement of the baseball stadium on campus. I returned to OCU as Athletic Director in 2003 and was surprised when the same coach brought me the same plan for the stadium. He explained that he had been “waiting for the day that a significant donor would come to him with a truckload of money.”
My baseball coach did a significant amount of work planning what he needed based on his vision for the program. He made the fatal flaw of filing these plans in his desk…for 8 years!
I remind my staff daily that we are all salespeople. While I occasionally dream about what I would do if someone dropped by with a $5 million contribution, I realize that this is a fantasy. Fundraising isn’t rocket science. As my good friend Tommy Sadler, Athletic Director at Union University, once told me…”Fundraising is simple, ask….and ask often.”
We tend to complicate the process of sales. It merely requires your belief in your product, your ability to communicate your need or opportunity, and your willingness to get out and sell .
It took us seven years to complete every bit of “Phase III,” which includes stadium lights, a new stadium entry way and ticket booth, new stadium seating, and other field improvements which totaled approximately $600,000. Now we are working on “Phase IV” which includes a permanent endowment for the baseball program and a new indoor facility. The credit goes to my coach who among other things communicates electronically each month with former players and donors, created a successful annual alumni event, and regularly shares his vision for the direction of his program.
To achieve his goals, it turns out that all he had to do was ask…and ask often.