Lehigh Athletics and Lehigh Development and Alumni Relations have merged their fundraising challenges, calling it Giving Day and March Mania. The event will take place March 26-27.
Since 2015, March Mania has been an event hosted by Lehigh Athletics where alumni, family and friends can show support for Lehigh sports teams.
Similarly, Giving Day was started by Lehigh’s Development and Alumni Relations Team around the same time, where everyone in the Lehigh community was asked to give to any department, college or fund.
“We’re basically doing very similar tasks here, just a few weeks apart,” Jennifer Cunningham, ‘28P, associate vice president of alumni relations, said. “Why don’t we get together and do this all together in one day?”
Cunningham said she believes the merger will increase the number of people who donate and ease of access to both organizations.
During the week of March 26, the organizations will send out email reminders, post more content on social media and host a scavenger hunt for students.
“We try to find out how students got engaged since they are the recipients of a lot of the donations through scholarships, clubs and all the other departments,” Cunningham said.
Joe Sterrett, the Murray H. Goodman dean of athletics, said the Alumni Association has also chosen a new technology platform that is more flexible, giving the team the ability to host challenges and contests more efficiently.
“There’s a piece of software that is particularly designed to manage a large amount of giving in a single day or two,” Sterrett said. “Prior to this year, we were each using different platforms, and so it would have been very difficult to even think about coinciding our efforts.”
Sterrett said more schools are implementing similar strategies to make these events flow smoothly. He said the software platform eliminates the confusion for alumni so they can better understand which events they have already participated in.
He said there is a true benefit to these short-term campaigns. With a lot of excitement built around them in athletics, they engage coaches and students alike.
Within the overall effort, Lehigh Athletics generates enthusiasm through matching gifts. This means someone, usually an employer, will give a March Mania competitor a certain amount of money that they also try to raise from additional donors.
“What we’ve done is make it competitive. We have a lot of competitive people and so it’s sort of sport against sport, but not always in dollars,” Sterrett said. “It could be in percentage giving or, you know, meeting their goal versus not meeting the goal.”
For the athletic side, Lisa Landis, ‘97, ‘99G, a partnership representative for Lehigh Athletics event management, said this is a very important fundraising initiative.
She said the donors who support athletics are used to giving at this time of year and supporting the varsity teams. The dean’s fund, and now campus athletics, will be part of that as well.
“A third of our fundraising goal for the year is raised in these two days,” Landis said.
Lehigh creates an athletics alumni competition to see which sport can have the most alumni participating, which unlocks extra funding for those teams and a higher impact on the giving.
“It really brings the entire department together for us. All of our coaches and student athletes are heavily involved,” Landis said. “Our sports communications and sports marketing people are involved in this whole entire thing to make this all come together in these two days.”