VCU Athletics received more than $3 million in donations to its annual fund in the 2012-13 year, up more than $1 million from the previous fiscal year.
The Rams Athletic Foundation, which is responsible for all fundraising efforts for VCU Athletics, reported the record numbers in July.
The spike in fundraising comes in the first year under new executive associate athletic director Glenn Hofmann. Formerly the athletic director at Merrimack College, Hofmann accepted the position overseeing all external affairs at VCU after working with current athletic director Ed McLaughlin at Niagara University from 2007-09.
Hofmann attributes his early success to the rising and continued success of the men’s basketball team and the collaborative effort of his staff.
But likely the most important contributing factor to the rapid increase in donations is derived from the newly implemented “seat equity plan.”
Announced in 2012, the transactional program requires prospective buyers to make a donation for the chance to buy season tickets at the Siegel Center.
Hofmann said the plan helps establish and strengthen the relationship between donors and the university, while providing an added incentive for future contributors.
“People’s donations have significantly increased because they want to continue to get the same seats they had at the Siegel Center or to, perhaps, get better seats,” Hofmann said.
The format of the seat equity program is simple and structured. Donors accumulate points based on their historical contributions and receive a ranking based on their total points. In turn, this assigned ranking will determine how soon donors can select seats.
The selection process will span several days during the first week of September.
Seat locations vary based on the amount of the donation. For as little as $100, donors can secure the ability to buy season tickets for back-row, corner sections, while high rollers can contribute $7,500 or more for courtside seats.
Hofmann said that VCU Athletics doesn’t plan on reseating donors for at least two to three years.
Moving forward, Hofmann and the Rams Athletic Foundation have their sights set on more regional and participatory goals.
Athletics wants to attract additional donors from areas outside of the Richmond market and strive to improve the donation totals from former student-athletes.
As such, a new student-athlete annual fund is scheduled to launch in the fall. Hofmann suggests that VCU could use more alumni donors to help reach their ultimate goal.
“The reason you raise money is to help the student-athletes,” Hofmann said. “That is definitely the most rewarding part of my job.”