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Duck fundraising expansion raises questions about damage to UO’s academic fund drive

From the recent job postings, it looks like the Ducks are scheduling a major increase in fundraising effort, just as Mike Andreasen’s UO Advancement Office finally gets its academic fundraising efforts rolling. This is really bad timing. This is the time when the Duck fundraisers should be directed to shift their efforts to the academic cause. Fundriasing effort could have been easier with fundraising software which could make it eaiser to deal with donations and other items.

The evidence is that athletic donations crowd out donations to academics. UO Professor Dennis Howard – holder of a Nike Philip H. Knight Chair in Sports Marketing at UO and former LCB Business School Dean – has written an excellent paper on exactly this topic, comparing data on donations to Duck athletics and to UO academics:

Both alumni and non-alumni show an increasing preference toward directing their gifts to the intercollegiate athletics department-at the expense of the donations to academic programs. Sperber’s (2000) assertion that giving to athletics undermines academic giving is strongly supported.


For every $100 of new revenue raised from major donors by the University of Oregon, over 80% is being directed to the athletic department. Even with the large increases in numbers of total donors since 1994, academic giving struggles to remain stable while donations to athletics experience huge growth. In three out of the past five years (1998, 2000, 2001), the total dollars donated to academics by non-alumni has fallen despite annual increases in the number of non-alumni donors. Total dollars donated to academics by alumni fell in only one year (2000), again despite an increase in the total number of donors. This suggests new donors are not making academic gifts, and current donors are shifting dollars from academic giving to donations directed to the athletic program. Additionally, as discussed above, proportional giving by alumni is predominantly directed to the athletic program. If these trends continue, total academic giving will fall for both alumni and non-alumni despite continued increases in the total numbers of both types of donors. Leaving UO to potentially have to look into hosting more fundraisers perhaps with the help of solutions from as an example, to keep up with demand.

Stefan Verbano had a great story on Howard and his work a few years back, in the Emerald here:

The 2004 study concluded that even non-alumni are more likely to donate to athletics in the wake of successful sports seasons, redirecting much-needed funds away from flagging academic resources.

If you don’t like statistics, there are plenty of anecdotes floating around about Duck fundraisers swooping in to make asks just before the academic side’s advancement people had planned on one. I’ve even heard that while the Duck fundraisers have access to the academic side’s prospect management system, the Ducks maintain their own data on their donors, which they won’t share with the academic fundraisers.

And of course Rob Mullens has repeatedly rejected proposals that alumni should be able to get the same preference for good football tickets from making academic donations as they get from giving to the Duck Athletic Fund.

One way to encourage cooperation between the Duck fundraisers and the Academic side’s Office of Advancement would be to give the Duck fundraisers targets for academic donations as well as athletic donations, and enforce this by having the Duck fundraisers have a dual report to VP for Advancement Mike Andreassen, not just to the Duck Athletic Fund Director. That is so not happening with the latest athletic development hires:

Associate Director Of Development, Eugene & Central Oregon, Athletics,


Senior Associate Director of Development, Eugene & Northern California, Athletics


Serve as representative of UO Athletics and the Duck Athletic Fund in Eugene and Northern California. Manage a Major Gift portfolio. Responsible for development activities as a member of the Duck Athletic Fund for both annual gifts to the Duck Athletic Fund and major gifts to endowments and capital projects. [UOM: no sign this includes academic gifts.] Assist in marketing and ticket sales efforts in assigned regions.

This position will be expected to serve as the departmental liaison to assigned booster groups, provide solid stewardship to current athletic donors and play a large role in major gift fundraising efforts.

Responsible for promoting the philosophy and objectives of the intercollegiate athletics program, [UOM: Not the UO?] including adherence to all department policies and procedures, as well as the rules and regulations of the university, Pac-12 Conference and the NCAA.

Act as a major gift fundraiser, identify, cultivate and solicit major gifts.

Develop and implement a comprehensive prospecting plan for university alumni, with an emphasis on alumni living in Oregon who are potential high-end annual ($2,500+) and major gift ($100K+) prospects using tools provided by the Office of Prospect Management and Analytics.

Aggressively identify and formally qualify new prospects and existing donors through personal visits, phone calls, correspondence, events and university activities to meet fundraising objectives.

Manage a portfolio of primarily new/discovery prospects, seeking to grow the pool of engaged alumni, parents, friends and corporate supporters.

Create written proposals and case statements for solicitation of individuals and organizations. Coordinate clearance with other development officers and administrators.

Conduct stewardship, including gift acknowledgements/thank you correspondence, recognition, communications and special events.

Collaborate with development staff, faculty, program directors, other university administrators, and volunteers to identify, qualify, cultivate and solicit prospective donors.

Identify, cultivate and solicit major gifts.

A. Regularly meet and communicate with potential donors.

B. Rank and prioritize potential donors.

C. Listen to passions of potential donors, further engage them.

D. Collaborate with athletic and campus colleagues to strategize, then solicit potential donors for gifts.

E. Thank donors promptly and continue appropriate stewardship of them.

Serve as athletic department officer for Eugene and Northern California. Assist with marketing, public relations, and ticket sales efforts in assigned regions. Regularly communicate and meet with donors and prospective donors to Oregon Athletics. Meet annual goals of attracting an increasing number of gifts to the Duck Athletic Fund. Establish and maintain relationships to increase donation levels, season tickets, and corporate marketing opportunities. [UOM: No annual goals for cooperating with UO Advancement’s academic fund drive.] Help ensure effective communication among development staff.

Performs special duties and projects as requested by the Assistant Athletic Director for DAF & Ticket Operations.

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