Looking for ways to keep your alumni involved? Back in December, I wrote a about some great starter ideas for alumni involvement. Once you have a list of alumni and are regularly keeping them informed, it may be an opportune time to ask for financial support. Teams throughout the National Collegiate Water Ski Association have differing levels of need for financial support, and there are multiple options available to every NCWSA team to address these varying needs.
Team Apparel Sales
John Mommer, alum of University of Louisiana at Lafayette, recommends selling team apparel to alumni as a way of soliciting donations. Everyone loves wearing sweatshirts and t-shirts supporting their collegiate team. I know mine are getting threadbare (hint: Team Illinois), and even my dad still wears his Illini Waterski Team gear, long after my graduation. John suggests creating t-shirts or sweatshirts with your team logo. If kept basic, these items are typically inexpensive to produce (~$10-15 each), and can be sold at a profit to alumni and friends.
Grace Kelm alumna of Texas State University says that writing letters to alumni asking for donations can feel more personal than a social media call out, and if they donate $50 or more, send them a team shirt. Getting something in return for a donation can always help drive donations!
If you like the idea of selling team apparel, but need additional financial assistance for new equipment, a team boat, etc., think about hosting a team fundraising event. You can certainly sell team apparel at a fundraiser, while adding other elements to the event to increase profit. I polled some alumni across the nation and some alumni oriented fundraiser ideas included:
Skiing oriented events
- Jeff Rush alum of San Diego State University suggests hosting alumni events, such as an Alumni Day or an Alumni Tournament.
- Host a “day at the lake” for alumni and their families, maybe at a tournament you are hosting, or another weekend.
Many alumni fall out of their collegiate ski ways, and it is important to keep them involved even they do not ski as much as they may want to. Every NCWSA alumni remembers the great days of collegiate skiing!
Jeff Rush encourages teams to get alumni to keep coming to hosted tournaments where they can purchase raffle tickets and team apparel.
- Host an alumni happy hour; sell tickets, ask for donations.
- Host an alumni night, or include alumni and parents at one of your annual events. Many teams have an end of year banquet with awards or senior send offs, invite your alumni and add a raffle or something to turn the whole thing into a fundraiser!
- Texas State University did a river cleanup, where people pledged money for every bag of trash that the team collected – pure profit for the ski team. Consider something like this at your local tournament site, or somewhere near your university.
Sometimes the best thing about being on a ski team is that you have a lot of people that are willing to volunteer to do labor to help team growth. Certain tasks simply require more people, Jeff Rush says that his team used to work for older alumni on their houses, on their boats, or at their companies to help fill your team’s fundraising needs.
Do any of your alumni need help winterizing or washing/waxing their boat? Fall cleanup at the lake house? The possibilities are endless as long as your team members are willing to put in the hours.
Donations Through the School
Camille Tyler an alumna of Texas State University and University of Louisiana at Lafayette donates to the team through the University. Find out if this is an option through your University’s athletic program or rec program, depending on where your team is affiliated. Once you know this is an option, advertise how to donate to all your alumni. Donations through the University can also have tax related benefits that alumni might be interested in.
Item Specific Fundraisers
We have also seen great success for fundraisers to purchase specific items such as skis or boats. A team should have a plan for the purchase and clearly outline that plan to alumni when they are donating.
Adam Koehler alum of Marquette University suggests having a specific item or need for which you are fundraising. Marquette had alumni purchase new bibs for the team in 2015, to encourage donations alumni were offered the option to purchase a bib if they donated a minimum amount. As a bonus, the alumni were the first to use the new bibs at the first ever Midwest Alumni Regionals.
Keeping in Touch and Help Alumni Stay Involved
It is important to keep your alumni base knowledgeable of team activities, this can be done through social media, alumni newsletters, website articles (on your site or NCWSA.com!), or many other ways. Many of the fundraising ideas we have outlined create an opportunity to ask for donations, but also give alumni an opportunity to meet the team and see how their donations are helping out their favorite collegiate sport!
If you have any additional ideas for fundraising or keeping alumni involved, comment on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.