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Marketing and Fundraising

So you want to be an AD


The bad news is that, at many institutions, less money is available to support athletics programs than in the past. The good news is that this means opportunities for athletics directors who can build relationships and raise the funds needed to complement the base financial support from the school.

This is a multifaceted responsibility, so this section has a large collection of supporting documentation:

  • Alumni-based fundraising examples
  • Booster club brochures and policies and procedures
  • Information on camps and clinics
  • Corporate package sales, signage agreements and endowment information
  • Ticket policies and procedures
  • Partnerships with the community
  • Friend-raising

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Do you know what you need to know about the relationship between the athletics department and the development office at the school where you want to be AD?
  • Are you comfortable asking people for financial support? If not, what can you do to become more comfortable?
  • Have you volunteered for fundraising assignments in your current position, even if fundraising is not part of your job?
  • How would you go about building relationships in your community, within your alumni base and among your peers on campus?
  • Do you know what the fundraising expectations are for your new position? What elements of the athletics department will be supported by university funds, and what elements will require fundraising?
  • Which sports at your new institution are best suited for fundraising?

This section includes several examples of what has worked at Division II institutions. This is an area where it is especially important to remember the Division II context. Larger Division I programs might use other approaches that pay off in their setting, but in a Division II environment, they might mean a lot of work with little to show in return. You need to pay attention to what has worked at similar institutions and communities, and then make the necessary adjustments to make those approaches work especially well for you.

No matter what techniques are used, make sure you understand the relationship with your institution’s development office before you ask anybody for a donation. At many schools, the development office will gladly support the athletics department’s fundraising efforts. At others, it might exercise more control than you anticipated. Before you take the job, learn as much as you can about this relationship - and also seek to understand what the fundraising expectations will be.

It’s also important to get the sequence straight: "Friend-raising" must precede "fundraising." One of your first jobs must be to make friends in the community. That would be important even if money were not involved, but it’s doubly important because of the need you will have for financial support. Determining who is willing and able to help should be one of your first tasks.

Likewise, you should build relationships on campus. The Division II model calls for an athletics program that is fully integrated with the school, so you want to build a reputation as a team player starting on Day One.

The section also includes information about camps and clinics. That’s because of Division II’s commitment to give back to the community. If these young people are favorably impressed by your campus and staff, they may return someday as students - or perhaps student-athletes. At the very least, you want them to support your program when they become adults.

But first things first: Make sure you know how to build a great relationship with an institution’s development and alumni offices. If you can discuss that relationship during the interview process, you will have a tremendous advantage.