In Uncertain Economy, Athletics Development More Critical Than Ever

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Asking for donations in an uncertain economy can be challenging, but athletics development is perhaps more critical now than ever.

Soon after Northern Illinois University announced in October that the Huskie Athletic Scholarship Fund had for the third consecutive year grown in both number of donors and total donations (the $1.3 million committed during the 2009 campaign nearly doubled the 2006 amount), some 30 schools contacted NIU senior associate athletic director Tim McMurray to ask him how his development team did it. That roughly a quarter of all Football Bowl Subdivision athletic departments sought answers to their own fundraising dilemmas told McMurray, the current president of the National Association of Athletics Development Directors, just how widespread economic uncertainty has become among his peers.

"We're not splitting the atom in our profession," McMurray says. "When I got here almost four years ago, the average gift to our annual fund was $179. Well, that's deplorable. So we created a comprehensive donor communication plan, through which our donors know what the benefits are of giving up a little more discretionary income."

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