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Fun-raising: Annual Golf Outing Helps Sigma Chi at Penn State Raise $2.2 Million

Driving a major capital campaign isn’t all fun and games. But successful events can play a big role, according to Jim Keith ’66, Campaign Chairman for Sigma Chi Penn State.

“The golf outing was a major factor in our ability to recruit alumni…because, as participants, they had maintained a connection to the chapter, in some cases many years after graduation,” he said. “Additionally, alumni in general were aware of the outing and its success, thus giving the accurate impression of a strong alumni base and a strong active chapter.”

“Our initial campaign goal was $2,000,000,” said Jim.“As cost estimates increased so did our goal and we in fact raised in excess of $2.2 million, a successful campaign by any stretch of the imagination. Considering the fact that a significant portion of the renovation cost was for the functionality of the chapter house rather than pure cosmetics, the feedback we receive is quite positive.”

Just a Part of the Road to Long-term Success
While the golf outing kept the chapter’s alumni engaged, interested, and entertained, campaign volunteers worked hard to survey key alumni and establish a potential cadre of project “owners.” With the help of these decade chairmen Sigma Chi was able to secure lead gifts from the campaign team, get critical feedback from the survey, and target key alumni for gifts.

“The campaign was officially announced at the 2006 Golf Outing with several high profile participants including the PSU Vice President
for Student Affairs. It was a packed house with much enthusiasm,” Jim added.

In the end, 36.3% of the chapter’s living alumni contributed to the campaign, a participation rate that is considered astounding..

“It is difficult to pinpoint why our rate was so high. But I think the following things are big factors: Our brothers stay connected to the chapter from the time they graduate; our campaign team structure allowed for donors to be solicited by a member of their class, or one class removed; Sigma Chi is recognized as one of the strongest chapters at Penn State; and the fact that we could lose our occupancy permit if we didn’t comply to the new fire and safety codes. Plus, it’s simply a matter of pride for a lot of brothers,” Jim suggested. “They like seeing their names on the donor list.” And so does Jim.

 The Secrets to Success from Campaign Chairman Jim Keith

How to meet (or exceed) your campaign fundraising goal:

  • Involve as many alumni as possible
  • Involve representatives of the chapter in decision making on appropriate matters like house rules
  • Establish a strong building committee preferably with 2 members living locally
  • Plan on a minimum 15% cost overrun
  • Develop and continually update a detailed cash flow projection
  • Be creative in allocating the tax deductability allowance to donors
  • Keep track of who solicits whom. This is particularly helpful in following up pledge payments