Drive for 25 Update: More Members and Donations Come In

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Sponsored by the Drive for 25: The Hokie Club’s Drive for 25 campaign is a paid sponsor of As part of that sponsorship, we’ll be bringing you monthly updates and articles about the Hokie Club and the Drive for 25.  To learn more about the Drive for 25, click here.

DriveFor25_shield-320pxIf you’ve heard of the Hokie Club’s Drive for 25 — and most of you who read TSL have — then you know that it’s the Hokie Club’s effort to increase membership to 25,000 members. That’s a pretty stout goal, given that the historical all-time high for Hokie Club membership was around 12,000, back in the post-Michael-Vick heyday of the early 2000s.

By late 2016, Hokie Club membership had fallen from that all-time high. The Drive for 25 was announced last December, and on the day of the announcement, membership was pegged at precisely 10,609 people. Since then, two spikes in membership have helped to drive the count up to 13,600 as of June 21, 2017.

I’ve been keeping records on a more-or-less monthly basis since the Drive for 25 was announced, using the progress tracker, and here are the membership totals each month:

  • Dec. 14, 2016: 10,609
  • Jan. 17, 2017: 10,920 (+311)
  • Feb. 8, 2017: 10,981 (+61)
  • Mar. 1, 2017: 11,089 (+108)
  • Apr. 5, 2017: 13,170 (+2,081)
  • May 3, 2017: 13,340 (+170)
  • June 7, 2017: 13,410 (+70)

The first month of the program provided a nice bump (+311) via simple awareness and promotion of the Drive for 25, and the huge increase from March to April (+2,081) was driven by the March deadlines for donating in the current Hokie Club fiscal year and for buying season tickets under Virginia Tech’s new Hokie Scholarship Fund per-seat minimums program.

Other than that, monthly membership increases have been somewhat tepid. The other four months have averaged just 104 new members per month.

As a sidenote, 190 new members have been added since I recorded that June 7 number. Last week, I talked to Bill Lansden, Executive Director of the Hokie Club, and Lansden told me, “A lot of those who came in this past week were those who had signed up to purchase tickets, but weren’t donors. So when they went in to select their seats, and they picked seats in donor sections, they had to make a donation. So we picked up a lot last week.”

The Hokie Club also picked up a lot more money — without picking up new members — during the seat selection process that recently completed. Lansden said that during seat selection, about 350 Hokie Scholarship Fund Donors upgraded right there on the spot to move into sections that required a larger donation level. Lansden told us in our last update that this would happen.

He was right, telling us last week, “I was looking at that with Carly Northrup, who handles that for us, and about 350 accounts upgraded. You’re looking at a good six-figure, $350k-$500k increase.” Those figures will be applied to the 2017 donation numbers. “That’s one of the advantages of our new system; we can backdate things.”

The Drive for 25 Marathon

The on-the-spot upgrades that occurred made for a nice boost in donations and members, but this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. If the Hokie Club adds 100 members per month, it will take 114 months to reach 25,000 members, or 9.5 years.

But it’s early in the process, and for the last six months, the Hokie Club has been focusing on bringing season ticket holders into the Hokie Scholarship Fund, and on seat selection and the aftermath of the March deadlines. They haven’t been specifically focusing on the Drive for 25 itself.

The Hokie Club has also been hamstrung by the fact that they announced their Drive for 25 program in December, and many Hokie fans disconnect after the bowl game and don’t pay attention to Virginia Tech sports again until August. The 2017 football season will bring with it many opportunities to promote the Drive for 25 to parts of the fan base that have been absent for the last few months.

Now that the Hokie Scholarship Fund rollout and Lane Stadium seat selection are over, Hokie Club staff can get started on initiatives focused solely on promoting the Drive for 25 and building Hokie Club membership.

“The Drive for 25, trying to keep it top of mind and create some buzz, we have some plans for late August, early September, that we think are extremely creative, but we’re not ready to announce them yet,” Lansden said.

“In the month of July we’re traveling to Dallas and San Francisco,” he told us, and indeed, the Hokie Club announced the Dallas event on their Twitter feed Thursday.

“We’re taking Coach Beamer and Whit with us to host events, strictly about Drive for 25. The objective is to get a nice crowd of alumni who probably aren’t participating. Frank is the draw. The hope is to get a room full of a hundred or two hundred people, Frank makes the pitch, we talk about Drive for 25, and then we want to sign them up … right then.

“It’s kind of a test run for us. We thought about having about ten of these events around the country, but then we thought it’s probably more prudent financially to do one or two and see how it works. If it works, then we’ll do more.”

A Minor Bit of Good News

I joked with Lansden that with regards to the Hokie Scholarship Fund, he was probably glad to see the news in April that Virginia Tech’s tuition increase for 2017-18 was the smallest since 2001-02.

Lansden admitted that he hadn’t run the numbers yet on what each percentage point of tuition increase means in scholarship costs, but he remembers what it meant when he was at Memphis.

“We knew at Memphis that every percentage point increase [in tuition] meant another $65,000 [in scholarship costs]. Back then, they were going up 6, 7, 8 percent a year. At a school like Memphis, another half a million dollars in revenue? That’s difficult.”

Next month, we’ll update you again on total Hokie Club numbers and break things down state by state.


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11 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. The Drive for 25 has been needed for a long time. I think Whit is doing a great job but I do have concerns and frustrations.
    I do think it’s wrong to not give credit for supporting a particular sport and in order to get credit for your giving you’re being forced to give the money to the general scholarship fund but then I’m sure they considered this. As a Platinum level for ten years, I increased my giving 20% as a result of the Drive for 25 only to lose my seats in section 11 and drop to section 13. I travel 8 hours one way to every home football game and this is my thanks. No thanks, this is my last year.

  2. The increase in numbers and $$ are great to see. We do need more donors at the minimum, just $100 per year or something like that. But I wish there was a way for Hokie Club donors, who also pay tuition for a current student at Tech, could get additional credit for seats and parking. Been a Golden Hokie for years… gave 110% this year, but rest went to out of state tuition for VT student, which is way more than Hokie Club donation….and our seats got worse. Waaaahhh.

  3. All understandable points but the athletics department can’t do anything about those issues. And everyone has different giving abilities. The overriding point for the Drive for 25 is to raise enough money on a consistent basis so we can achieve a success level similar to what a Clemson has and enjoy a winning program on a national basis. Tech is on the precipice of that with new facilities and coaches but we need to increase our giving to continue to grow.

  4. The easiest way to add to the number of participants is hit those in school and graduating with a minimum level. Those who can give more will be reaching the point where their kids are through college and they have more disposable income.
    There is a 20-40 year gap in there. As a silver hokie for 10 year and two kids approaching college age I am more concerned with their college funding than VT athletes. You need a broad base of doners but unfortunately a few very big older doners can offset a lot of others.

  5. Good article. However, I still get upset if I want to give to a specific sport for a specific need and get NO credit concerning the scholarship fund. The whole system is confusing and limits your ability to help other areas for the athletic program since you get NO credit to help increase your ability to get better parking or seats. For these reasons, I have actually lowered my giving and I know other friends who have done the same thing.

    Tom in Roanoke

    1. Not 100% accurate. Hokie Scholarship Fund is a per seat minimum, simple as that…to fund scholarships for ALL sports. You can give additional funds to your sport of choice and they will be included in your cumulative giving, which is what it is all about for picking in priority for seats/parking/away game tickets/bowl games etc. Your cumulative giving drives your point priority nowadays, which is slightly different than past years, so please continue to give extra funds to your sport of choice. It’s needed and appreciated. Give more, not less, if you’re able.

    2. Why is it that you think you should be able to make a big donation to swimming and then get better seats for a football game?

      Make the donation to swimming and then go get great seats for swimming.

    3. It CANNOT be factored in..What if 90% of us said we want our donation to go to football..PERIOD! 7% specify basketball (OK, my football bias is showing), and 3% specify all the other sports???….

      Where does the money come from for all those other sports..Especially the sports that are “off the radar” for all but a few. The only way to give them money specifically, is to do it in addition to, or instead of, money to the Athletic Department. I think it’s just a matter of logistics that you just plain CAN’T specify where your money goes…

      If you figure that one out, let me know..I’d LOVE to propose it to Congress for my tax money!

  6. Friggin college costs are insane……

    Sure there’s an arms war in facilities and the likes in college sports, but if donations are supposed to match the rising cost of education (ie: we need to donate more since instate / out of state tuition is exploding) then i’m not going to help add to the issue.

    1. I’ve complained about it too. The insane increase in costs on the academic side are costing the athletic department more to fund the scholarships. I figured out, for an out of state student, tuition, room and board, fees, etc, will wind up around $40,000 per year. If you look back over the past 25-30 years, this increase has far outpaced inflation…

    2. Completely your choice…….BUT, do NOT expect competitive sports programs…A simple fact. You can do one or the other..but NOT both. That’s just the way it is.

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