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Tournament Teams Look to Translate Court Success into Donor Dollars

DALLAS, April 2, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Many fans of college basketball might think that high-profile, successful programs participating in the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament means coffers full of cash and self-sustainability. Not so, says Pursuant, a Dallas-based fundraising agency who spoke with several universities who qualified for the Sweet 16 and evaluated how they planned to leverage a highly visible event such as March Madness into a strategic fundraising opportunity to retain, acquire and steward donors.

"Making a deep run in the tournament can provide a catalyst and a nice fundraising push if properly leveraged by the university. Unfortunately, too few universities are prepared for the visibility to fully capitalize on the donor drive," explained Trent Ricker, CEO of Pursuant. "Others get caught by the misperception that they have so much revenue from repeated success that they don't need donor support," Ricker continued.

Renee Baumgartner, deputy athletics director/chief of staff at Syracuse University agrees: "The view of some is that large scale, leading universities and athletic departments are flush with cash and don't need donor support — that couldn't be further from the truth. While revenue is generated from ticket sales, TV arrangements, and media rights, it takes private support for athletic departments to fully fund the support for hundreds of student-athletes in many different sports, which makes donor involvement critical. Educating donors at a high level about this need is paramount to our ability to pursue excellence for our student-athletes on and off the playing field, and create the environment for them to reach their full athletic and academic potential."

Previously, lower-profile universities such as Gonzaga and Butler benefitted from successful runs in the basketball tournament. However, much of that success translated into a higher number of enrollment applications, while opportunities may have been missed for improving the university's fundraising programs.

Ricker added, "Leveraging events like the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is an opportunity to educate the donor base on the help the university needs to support an entire athletic department and build on a legacy of championships."

While Pursuant's discussions with these universities revealed a lack of education or information being communicated to the donor base, it also revealed there is a universal awareness regarding the need to have strategic fundraising plans when faced with any catalytic event.

"Anytime your university is able to make it to the NCAA Tournament, the fundraising team must be prepared to capitalize on that exposure and success. It's an opportunity to create demand, reward loyal constituents and educate donors on the needs to sustain that success," shared Josh Rebholz, senior associate athletic director – external relations at UCLA. "While success may create perceptions, you must strategically prepare to tell your story in a way that educates your constituents to understand that their support got you that far — but imagine how much further you might be able to go with even more support."

For more information about Pursuant, visit

SOURCE Pursuant

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