Virginia Tech’s Hokie Club Among Fastest-Growing Fundraisers in the ACC

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Hokie Club donations
Jonathan Kabongo (10) and PJ Horne (14) slap hands with Hokie fans after Virginia Tech defeated Georgia Tech last February (Jon Fleming)

The Drive for 25

Sponsored by the Drive for 25: The Hokie Club’s Drive for 25 is a campaign to increase membership in the Hokie Club to 25,000 members. No matter where you live, you can make an impact in the lives of Virginia Tech student-athletes! To learn more about the Drive for 25, click here.

Recently, while looking through some Virginia Tech Board of Visitor (BOV) minutes from their March 31 – April 1 meeting, I encountered some information that Athletic Director Whit Babcock had presented to the BOV. It showed some interesting trends in ACC donor levels.

Increasing the number of Virginia Tech alumni and fans that donate is one of the main topics of discussion with regards to the Hokie Club. When the Hokie Scholarship Fund was announced back in May of 2016, Virginia Tech released some figures comparing Hokie Club donation numbers to their fellow ACC schools. It showed that Virginia Tech’s participation level, particularly in percentage of living alumni who donate, was low.

Here’s the graph they provided at the time, with 2014 figures, sorted by percent of living alumni who donate.

Virginia Tech Athletics Hokie Scholarship Fund web site

The (very informative) Hokie Scholarship Fund web site is still up and running and being updated, including a new version of that graphic. Here’s the 2018 (four years later) version, which is sorted by total number of donors.

Virginia Tech Athletics Hokie Scholarship Fund web site

The first thing I noticed is that the number of living alumni figures haven’t been updated from 2014 to 2018, despite each school in the ACC sending four more graduating classes out into the world. I think that’s just a failure to update the graphic. If, for example, you calculate Clemson’s 19% figure based on 28,204 donors, you get 148,442 living alumni, not 132,198. That’s fine; the error doesn’t really affect the overall discussion.

I crunched the two graphics together for a side by side comparison — sorry it’s so crude, but it’s interesting.

Data: Virginia Tech Athletics

Put another way, in table format, and sorted by number of 2018 donors:

ACC Athletic Donor Levels, 2014-2018 Comparison
---------------- 2014 -------------------------------- 2018 -------------------- Change, 2014-2018 ----
School# Donors% Donors# Donors% Donors# Donors% Donors
Florida State27,0748.6%20,6595.8%-6,415-2.8%
NC State20,0779.8%19,3797.9%-698-1.9%
Virginia Tech10,1584.3%13,7005.6%+3,542+1.3%
North Carolina11,7504.0%13,1584.1%+1,408+0.1%
Notre Dame8,8226.9%11,0518.2%+2,229+1.3%
Wake Forest5,0137.5%8,41911.6%+3,406+4.1%
Georgia Tech7,0755.4%7,9695.3%894-0.1%
Boston College6,5753.9%7,6644.3%+1,089+0.4%
Data Source: Virginia Tech Athletics presentation to the BOV, March 31-April 1, 2019

Some comments on the numbers and tables:

The Drive for 251. Donation figures can vary widely from year to year, and definitely from one five-year span to another. How different fundraising clubs and athletic departments count the number of donors can vary, as well as student participation and how it’s counted. (The Hokie Club didn’t start counting student members until switching student membership to a paid model recently, as we detailed in our December article about the Hokie Club.)

2. As we reported in December, and as Whit Babcock informed the BOV in late March/early April, Hokie Club membership is projected to be 16,000 for 2018-19, when the finally tally is determined at the end of June 2019. Go back and look at the table … a membership count of 16,000 would make the Hokie Club a clear No. 4 in terms of number of members, and would make them the fastest growing fundraising group with an increase of 5,842 members since 2014. It would put their donor participation at approximately 6.4% of living alumni, about fifth in the ACC.

3. Comments on other schools in the table: Winning is working for Clemson. Whatever Florida State is doing isn’t working for them, but look for their numbers to increase in the coming years, due to their announced $100 million Unconquered campaign, as well as their new $60 million football facility scheduled for 2021. Virginia has announced a $180 million athletics master plan that should boost their numbers, as well.

Other Hokie Club Notes from the BOV Presentation

One piece of data that has always been hard to track down is the history of Hokie Club donor numbers, but within Whit Babcock’s BOV presentation, he included the following chart.

Hokie Club membership history
Virginia Tech Athletics presentation to the BOV, March 31-April 1, 2019

Prior to the Michael Vick era, Hokie Club membership was well below 10,000, but the run to the national championship game in 1999 led to a boom in Hokie Club membership, and the count remained above 10,000 until 2012-13. Essentially, Lane Stadium sellouts and Hokie Club membership of 10,000+ tracked each other. Both streaks ended in 2012.

It’s clear when the Drive for 25 campaign was announced: during the 2016-17 academic year, specifically in December of 2016. You can see the spike in membership that year.

Whit Babcock also included a slide showing the donor numbers that were included above.

Virginia Tech Athletics presentation to the BOV, March 31-April 1, 2019

Again, you can see from the graph a Hokie Club membership number of 16,000 would boost Virginia Tech into a clear fourth place in terms of overall number of donors.

There’s a lot of work yet to do, but in the last five years, the changes to fundraising at Virginia Tech have already yielded important results.

We’ll be back tomorrow with our annual Virginia Tech Athletics financial report by Randy Jones, which will detail how the Hokies ran in the black in 2017-18, for the first time in three years.


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21 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. The table entitled “ACC Athletic Donor Levels 2014 – 2018 Comparison” needs to be cleaned up for a better understanding. Tech going from 4.3% to 5.6% living donors is an increase of 30.2% Change in Donors, not 1.3%.

  2. I am not a alumni. I joins HC in 99 because my first son was applying for early decision. The football team was doing well due to Mike V. I wanted to see some games in 2000 so I joined and have remained a member long after his graduation. He and his wife who also graduated VT and the Vet School is my tickets because I have moved in points for seating and parking. The two make very good money but can’t pony up a ton of money to gain decent seats so they don’t join. I don’t give a huge amount because I’m over seventy and health is slipping so I don’t make all the home games but I keep the seats for them as much as anything. My point is if me son could take over giving and take over my points or a portion I assure you he and his wife would contribute much more than I’m giving because they would like to join but don’t because it would be impossible to come in where I am manly because I’ve now been a member nearly twenty years and ready to drop out so the Hokey Club looses a member that’s not paying bu a little less than a thousand a year but if something like a heritage program we’re established they would gain a young member and wife that are alumni making very good money that would happily donate way more money annually than I if only he could inherit my points when I drop out. I wish Mr. Babcock could read and change this. I personally know of several others in this same situation and are about to drop out. I’m sure there’s thousands in this same situation.

  3. It’s good to be a Hokie! Looking forward to an 8-4 football season, 18-15 basketball season, and 28-34 baseball season.

  4. One thing to remember…in years past you had to give a minimum of $100 per year to join the Hokie Club. I’m not sure when it changed (maybe with the Drive for 25?) but now you can join for $25. So while the number of members is up and growing, I’m not convinced that the scholarship $$ needed is growing at the same pace.

  5. How do these numbers square with the numbers that came with my HC selection number?

      1. The graph has the numbers accurate for what they currently have, the 10,614. I don’t know what they are basing the expected increase, but there is usually a dip in members then peak as football tickets are purchased. I use a hokiematic account so am always counted in the numbers, as are most of the members, but they get a boost from one-time donations.

    1. Your selection number is based on the number of people who specifically donated to the Hokie Scholarship Fund (HSF) and were ranked for seat and parking selection. There are other Hokie Club members who do not donate to the Hokie Scholarship Fund, but instead donate to specific sports, facilities, etc.

      Total Hokie Club membership = HSF donors (the number used to rank you for seat selection) + other Hoke Club donors.

  6. The bottom line is that, not only is the sky not falling, but we are making substantial progress which will only increase moving forward.

  7. I tried to join last October 25th. As best as I can tell, I was unsuccessful. This is the first time, to my knowledge, in 45 years that the Hokie Club seemed interested in new members. As I live in Tally, I don’t make it to the games unless they are in FL so there is no incentive to join for seating. A user friendly donation portal would benefit our school, IMHO.

    1. just use the donating (Give) link on the VT homepage. It will let you designate your contribution to Athletics and then more specifically, in your case, designate it to the Hokie Club. They should then pass your name, email, and address onto the Athletic Department and you should then start to receive correspondence from them. To make certain I am correct, call the Development office at 800-533-1144 and ask them if that will work. I am sure they will be glad to help. Or just call the Athletic office and they should take care of things.

  8. It’s kind of funny looking at the Historical Hokie Club Membership Numbers. After the championship run, it was like okay for a few years and then…we’re not going anywhere. The bandwagon fans dropped off. This is why I like the kind of campaign currently in progress.

  9. Some other insights…

    UNC, Pitt, and Syracuse have some real untapped resources to potentially pull. NC State surprises me with participation. Clemson, Louisville, GT alumni numbers seem so low.

  10. Members are great, but revenue is what really matters… look forward to Randy’s article.

    1. Agree, sounds like the campaign worked in that numbers have increased year over year. Hopefully people have continued to give and even increase giving if their budget allows it.

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