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Title:Examining the fundraising challenges faced and strategies utilized in the NCAA Division II athletics environment
Author(s):Hanson, Andrew Roger
Advisor(s):Welty Peachey, Jon
Contributor(s):Raycraft, Michael; Fisher, Kim
Department / Program:Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Discipline:Recreation, Sport, and Tourism
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):athletics fundraising
Division II, stakeholder theory
Abstract:In the current economic environment, state appropriations to higher education are continually decreasing. These cuts in state aid have resulted in universities undergoing significant financial cuts (Mitchell, Leachman, & Masterson, 2017). Intercollegiate athletics departments have not been immune (Glasgow, 2017; Humboldt State, 2018; Rackers, 2016). In particular, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II athletics departments have taken the hit, as these departments rely heavily on state funds. This structure requires Division II athletics programs to depend on private, charitable contributions, which are brought in through organized fundraising activities. This study used the previous athletics fundraising literature and stakeholder theory (Freeman, 1984) to guide 14 semi-structured interviews with Division II athletics fundraisers, spread throughout the country, representing a wide range of universities with varying enrollment sizes, athletics success, and sport composition. I spoke with fundraisers who were employed by both the athletics department and university’s foundation office. The purpose of this exploratory study was to identify the challenges these development officers faced and the strategies they used to overcome those obstacles. This study also aimed to identify the role that stakeholders played in athletics fundraising and how stakeholder claims of power, urgency, and legitimacy guided the fundraising process (Mitchell, Agle, & Wood, 1997). Data obtained from the interviews showed that institutional factors such as the culture of giving at the university, an institutional name change, and a lack of institutional support for athletics fundraising to be the biggest challenge. Additionally, a lack of staffing and budgets, coupled with additional job responsibilities that come about from working at a Division II program, were identified as another significant challenge. Meanwhile, the most relevant strategies that emerged from this study were the way fundraisers could utilize stakeholders in their job. The findings showed that coaches were stakeholders with legitimacy and that coaches can be a valuable asset for fundraisers in identifying, soliciting, and stewarding donors. Developing a strategic fundraising plan and communicating and collaborating with the university’s foundation office were also shown to be heavily utilized strategies. All told, most of the challenges centered on elements that were results of fundraising at a smaller, Division II school (i.e., small donor base, de-prioritization of athletics, and lack of investment in fundraising) and challenges that were by and large uncontrollable for the fundraiser, such as winning. The strategies utilized to combat those challenges focused on the role stakeholders play in the fundraising process and how athletics development professionals can capitalize on the claims of power, urgency, and legitimacy in order to maximize philanthropic support for their department.
Issue Date:2019-04-22
Rights Information:Copyright by Andrew Hanson 2019
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05

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