Virginia Tech’s New Donation Program Is Necessary To Remain Competitive

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By now you’ve probably read about Virginia Tech’s new Hokie Scholarship Fund program, which (among other things) redefines Hokie Club contribution levels and introduces per-seat minimum donation levels for football and men’s basketball. It’s designed to raise more scholarship money, because Hokie Club contributions over the past two fiscal years haven’t been enough to pay the scholarship bills. It also brings Virginia Tech in line with virtually every major program in the country, who have all gone to a per-seat minimum annual donations over the last decade.

The first thing that should be pointed out is that this is not a money grab from the Virginia Tech athletic department. It is a necessary move that is designed to help the department pay its scholarship bills. The graphic below is telling (click all pics in this article for a larger image)…

vt_athletic_scholarship_cost

Tech’s scholarships bill has increased by around 60% over the last five years. Meanwhile, donations to the general scholarship fund have remained relatively flat, or even decreased. The result is a $2.1 million deficit. In other words, the Hokie Club can no longer pay the bill for all athletic scholarship. That $2.1 million has to come from other sources, such as the regular operating budget. The loss of that money limits Whit Babcock’s ability to support all of the athletic department’s programs, hire a complete recruiting staff for the football program, give Buzz Williams a raise and extension to make sure he stays, etc. Until the athletic departments gets its scholarships fully funded by Hokie Club donations, as they used to be, their financial flexibility is limited.

(Note: Tech’s deficit is expected to rise to $3.5 million this fall.)

Here’s another graphic that might surprise you…

vt_acc_scholarships

In terms of money raised for the annual scholarship fund, that graphic provided by the Virginia Tech athletic department puts the Hokies near the bottom of the ACC, ahead of only Pitt and Wake Forest. Louisville, Florida State and Clemson are at the top. If you ever wondered why Clemson is able to afford such an expensive recruiting staff and Virginia Tech is not, this is one of the reasons why. Those programs apparently don’t have any trouble funding scholarships, and they also have fewer varsity sports than Virginia Tech. Florida State has 18 varsity sports, Clemson supports 17, while the Hokies fund 20.

Here’s a little bit of math for you to chew on (numbers are estimated based on the graph above):

Florida State: approximately $1,388,888.89 in donations per sport
Clemson: approximately $1,323,529.41 in donations per sport
VT: approximately $490,000 in donations per sport

Obviously that’s a huge difference.

Clemson is setting records in donations. Their IPTAY program brought in $60.1 million in donations (scholarship fund donations plus donations for facilities, specific programs, etc.) for the 2014-15 fiscal year, according to this article. So in short, the Tigers are bringing in a lot more money while supporting three fewer sports than Virginia Tech, and they also bring in more ticket revenue because they have a bigger football stadium. The Hokies raised well over $20 million if you count donations towards facilities, endowments, etc., but the donations Clemson received for their annual fund alone may well have outpaced all of the money Tech was able to raise.

In short, Virginia Tech needs to raise more money. They need to do it by getting more money in donations from their current Hokie Club members and season ticket holders, and they also need to add more new members to the Hokie Club.

vt_acc_donors

Virginia Tech ranks near the bottom of the ACC in maximum percentage of alumni base who are active donors to the athletic department. Only Boston College, Pitt and Syracuse rank below the Hokies. Georgia Tech, UVA, Wake Forest, Duke, Louisville…all of those schools have a much higher percentage than Tech.

I’ve always considered NC State and Virginia Tech to be somewhat similar schools. They are both land grant state schools with similar fan bases. The Wolfpack have 20,077 donors out of a living alumni base of 205,400, while the Hokies have just 10,158 donors out of 238,169. That’s a huge difference, and quite frankly it was pretty shocking to me when I saw the numbers.

Now that you’ve seen all the numbers, you probably have a few questions. Questions should be directed towards the Hokie Club, and the folks over there in those offices will be glad to help you out. I can’t answer them all, because I don’t know the new program inside and out, but I can answer a few of the important ones.

Does this mean I’ll have to make an extra donation on top of my current donation? No. Your per-seat gift will count towards your annual giving level.

Does this mean I’ll have to give more money to keep my current level of seating? Maybe, maybe not. For me personally, I could actually lower my donation and still meet the minimum required to sit in my current section. Or for an extra $100 (that’s $8.33 per month), I could actually have the opportunity to upgrade to a much better section closer to the middle of the field. For some people, this new system will require a higher giving level. For others, it could actually lower your giving level. It all depends on how much you’ve given in the past and where you want to sit.

Note: for a seating calculator, click here. I recommend everybody use this tool. It’s very valuable.

Does any other school have a system like this? Yes. Almost every school in the country has gone to this model, which is one of the reasons Virginia Tech has fallen so far behind. Only Notre Dame, Kansas, Indiana and Duke have not moved to this model, and Notre Dame is making the change in 2017.

Is my donation still tax deductible? Yes, your per-seat donation is tax deductible up to 80%. That hasn’t changed from the previous program.

Note: There’s a complete FAQ near the bottom of this link. If you have any questions at all about this new program, you should read through everything on that link.

In short, this program will be different for everybody. For example, if you have made a big donation in the past (to reach, say, Hokie Century Champion — $150,000 — level), and were told all you had to do from that point on was to donate $500 to keep your 50-yard line seats every year, you probably won’t like this change, because it means you’ll need to donate $800 per seat to stay there. If you have 4-6 seats, you’ll have to pay $3,200-$4,800 per year, instead of just a small donation under the old model.

Others will not be affected by it at all. Some (like me) will be able to increase their giving by a very small amount and potentially have the chance to get much better seats. A program like this is never going to make everybody happy, but it is necessary for the financial health of the athletic department.

Considering the donation comparison between Virginia Tech and Clemson/FSU, the Hokie Club didn’t have much of a choice. Either Tech’s donors will step up and help close that donation gap, or the Hokies won’t be able to consistently compete with those schools. Athletic departments are only as strong as their fan bases.  Tech’s Spring Game turnout is very good when compared to FSU and Clemson, but those Seminole and Tiger fans seem to be a lot more generous with their giving.  The Hokies would be in good shape if their Spring Game attendance was an indicator of their donor base.  Unfortunately, it’s not.

Spring game numbers

Unfortunately, right now we are losing the battle of the fan bases to Clemson and Florida State (and many other ACC programs as well). Clemson has over 100,000 fewer living alums than Virginia Tech, yet their donors stepped up to the tune of $60.1 million in 2014-15. Florida State has more living alums than Tech, yet not so many more that they should be raising over twice as much money for their annual fund. Are Florida State and Clemson alums richer than Tech alums? Not according to this tool at PayScale.com that measures average mid-career pay…

FSU: $77,600
Clemson: $90,800
VT: $96,700

The story is the same for recent grads. Here are the average early career salaries for graduates of each school…

FSU: $42,500
Clemson: $51,900
VT: $54,500

On average, Virginia Tech alums seem to make more money than Clemson and Florida State alums. I don’t have any way of knowing whether or not those numbers are accurate, but I found a Forbes article that used the Payscale.com link above as a reference, so that’s good enough for me. I would have guessed that the Tech fan base earned the most, on average. If those numbers are right, it means that collectively the VT fan base is bringing in more money and donating less. Of course, those numbers don’t include the various donors for each school that did not graduate from that university. I’m guessing Florida State has a high number of non-alums who donate to their program.

It’s up to the Tech fan base as a whole to decide how competitive it wants their athletic programs to be. Throwing money at the problem isn’t always a guarantee of success, but these days you aren’t going to have much of a chance to compete without that money.

After getting this new program set up, the Hokie Club plans to make a big push for new members. That push is sorely needed. For a fan base that is as rabid as Tech’s has been over the last 20 years, it’s surprising and a bit humbling to see us rank behind almost the entire conference in so many different metrics. A big part of that problem is the lack of outreach from the Hokie Club in the past. That has already changed a lot over the last year, and it is going to change a lot more very soon. The first few years of this new giving program should give us a good indicator of how far the Virginia Tech fan base is willing to go to be competitive.

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81 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Need to put some sort of budget cap on these sport programs like the pros. Face it, football and b-ball are basically semi pro. The money is just getting ridiculous.

  2. I’m a former Golden Hokie donor who gave and bought season tickets for 8 consecutive years up until 2013 when I stopped for various reasons. If I were to consider rejoining, I’m faced with the fact that I’ve lost out on 8*(5+3) = 64 priority points for breaking my streak.

    However, if I wanted to rejoin I could “buy back” those lost points by giving an extra $3200 over time (2 pts per $100). That would put me back where I was at least points-wise. Is that right? And has it always been that way? I can’t remember what the priority point rules were before this change.

    There are probably a lot of folks out there in my situation who stopped giving in the early 2010s due to our slide to mediocrity. If this change can help get some of them back on board then it could be worth it. I am concerned for the long time donors who feel they are getting screwed, so I hope the VTAF finds a way to address their issues. But for the vast majority of us out here, this seems like a good start. But it could be improved even more by building in incentives to rejoin.

    People go through changes in life that will cause them to stop giving. That’s just life. We need a smart way to coax former givers back in. Someone who USED to write checks is much more likely to write them in the future than someone who NEVER wrote a check. We should be focusing this effort on getting former donors back into the fold.

  3. All I can say is good luck, been a Hokie Club member since graduating in ’89 and season tix the same while moving all around Va to Fl. This seems to be more a reflection of prior Hokie Club personnel than it should be of trying to stick it again to the faithful 10k that have continued to support. Maybe someone should figure out how to grow that number. Making it easier and easier to just step away. Will see where this all comes out, but may be making a bad bet.

  4. Clemons keeps coming up in this thread. We lived there 22 years and here are some thoughts. Of note, Univ. of South Carolina is not much different the Clemson in their support of sports, and they have historically had much less success than Clemson. The primary difference is cultural. I have tried to capture that in the bullets below.

    1. The Clemson undergraduate population has historically come from small to medium size towns and which have less diversity in social/entertainment activities (no professional sports team, etc).
    2. Clemson is 2 hours from Charlotte and Atlanta
    3. Football is very, very important to the community.
    4. Many season ticket holders are not alumni. There are many Florida-Yankees living on the man-made lakes in the region who have large discretionary budgets.
    5. The undergraduate student population is much less diverse than VT’s. Looking down my class rolls, I estimate that about 50% of my undergrads have last names of Asian, Middle Eastern or Indian origins. They know soccer, not football.
    6. Looking into the future, about 25% of my undergraduate classes are now students from foreign countries, primarily China. They are here because they can’t get in one of the top Chinese universities. They will stay here 4 years and then be headed home. No support for VT sports from them. I expect this percentage to increase under President Sands as this is the Purdue model where he came from.
    7. VT students will much more mobile than Clemson students. Clemson students wanted to stay close to momma and daddy. VT students take jobs all over the country.

    1. See article on Purdue homepage titled “Purdue Day of Giving”. They raised $18.3 million in one day. Donations came from 44 countries.
      International contributions up 60 percent. Do you think our international students are different? Maybe they are.
      Maybe fundraising at VT (sports and academics) just needs to be shaken up like they are now in the process of doing. You do make good points in you post.

      A side note: A VT fundraiser came to my house one day. He told me the story where he was going to visit someone in a hi-rise in NoVa. In the elevator, he struck up a conversation with a fellow occupant who turned out to be a Tech grad. He mentioned that he does fundraising for Tech. The grad told him that no one has ever contacted him/her for a donation. Long story short, upon visiting, the grad made a $1 million donation.

      You just need a good fundraising operation that will find the donors. I am not certain that we have ever had that at Tech.

      1. I completely agree with this. I am a graduate of both VT and Johns Hopkins. Hopkins hits me up several times a year for money. It’s a bit annoying actually. But I rarely ever see anything from Tech. And when I stopped giving at the GH level 3 years ago following 8 consecutive years of giving, NOBODY contacted me. No phone call, letter, postcard or email. Nothing. Kinda pathetic. It’s as if nobody noticed. Does the VTAF ever look at their databases and try to figure out who is leaving and why? Shouldn’t they be trying to make a compelling case to former donors for at least giving at a reduced level? I haven’t seen any evidence of that at all. Seems foolish. We truly lack a sophisticated fundraising operation.

  5. This sentence to me says a lot – “A big part of that problem is the lack of outreach from the Hokie Club in the past. That has already changed a lot over the last year, and it is going to change a lot more very soon. ”

    I have been a Golden Hokie for almost (15) years and never ONCE have I ever gotten a call saying – “Thanks for your contribution. By the way, we will be in your part of the state next month and would like to see if we can grab 15-30 mins of your time to say thanks in person and get your feedback on a few things.” I probably would have said “thanks for taking the time to call and I am OK with things, so instead spend my 15-30 mins recruiting new members. Have a great evening and Go Hokies”

    How FRIGGING hard would that be for the Hokie Club.

  6. I have always donated to the academic side of VT. As I see it, athletics currently receives about 25 to 30 percent of all donations to Tech. As a percentage, that is a lot. So to get me to donate to athletics, I first have to see the academic side of the university receive about $150 million a year in donations, up from their current level of support of around $65 to $70 million. At that point, I will donate to athletics. If athletics keeps pace percentage- wise, that will be even better. Currently, I think academics needs the money a lot more than the athletic department. Phlegar (vice president of office of Advancement) says his goal for all donations is about $240 million/year. I am anxious to see how he is going to do that. Currently, total donations are about $90 million. By the way, don’t put a lot of faith in what universities report that their alumni make per year. Most universities have ways to make themselves look better than they really are. It just goes with the territory.

    I should add that a successful athletic department does benefit the academic side. But my money goes to academics because the competition in academics for professors, facilities, and topnotch students (scholarships) seems greater than the competition in athletics for coaches, facilities, and topnotch athletes. (Hard to believe, but true!) I just hope Phlegar is successful in fundraising. For those who do give to athletics, I am certain it is much appreciated. And you have my thanks as well. Just think what Tech could do if donations doubled all across the university.

  7. The problem is location. Draw a circle around Blacksburg with a 1.5-2 hour drive time. There just aren’t many employment centers within a reasonable drive of the campus. People look at me like I’m nuts when I tell them I have season tickets, because I live in Vienna, VA and have kids. I’m lucky to make it to 1-2 games a year, and I’m a rabid fan.

    1. I don’t think you’re crazy. But, I see distance as a convenient excuse for many not to give. Not going to many games is also not a very good reason for a lack of giving. I live over 1,200 miles from Blacksburg, and only make it up for occasional games. Yet, I have donated to the Athletic Association most years since I graduated many many moons ago. I am sure that if you added up all of my donations over the years, it probably wouldn’t be enough to put me near the 50 yard line. But, that doesn’t really matter to me.

      I feel just as much enjoyment in Tech’s success as any season ticket holder that attends every week. I take as much priide in wearing my Tech gear around town, which is dominated by other Conferences, as I would wearing them in season ticket seat.

      As Chris said, it takes money to compete in today’sports environment, and we all enjoy the success the Hokies have had in competition. Like yourself, I am not able to attend many games. However, I attend Watch Parties with the local Alumi Association to watch games on TV (in my Tech gear). I do know that it is a heck of a lot more fun, and a lot shorter ride home, when we win.

      Here’s to Hokie Pride. ……….. GO HOKIES !!!

  8. Apparently there has been no thought to tweaking the old Clemson model IPTAY as a means to capture the recent grads. That could be instituted and sustained easily. With a 10% ask increase each year you have doubled each contributors annual amount in 7 years. 10% increase is reasonable at those lower levels. Don’t know about the administration cost.

  9. In addition to increasing donations, some attention should focus on controlling scholarship costs which “have increased by 60%”.

    1. Absolutely! College tuition costs have gone through the roof in a short period. It’s the Ivory Tower syndrome unfortunately. College Administrators and faculty have no concept of controlling costs like corporation have to.

    2. This has everything to do with the full cost of attendance scholarships that got implemented. Everybody wanted football players to get paid but you have to treat all scholarship athletes the same. Hence the 60% increase in scholarship costs.

  10. I lay this at the feet of the Hokie Club. They do a below average job of raising funds because they don’t know how to effectively communicate. I’m 65 years old, a golden Hokie, more than meet the minimum seat requirement donation, and have NEVER received a phone call from anyone associated with the Hokie Club or Tech athletics. Sure, I get the thank you form letters but so does everyone else. For my years of giving, I get screwed on bowl game seating, wait in ridiculously long lines to enter the stadium, have mediocre seats that are too small and close together, have people standing in the aisles blocking my view, get my ears blasted out by too loud rap music, and lately have watched a very average football team. Having said that, I’m proud to be a Hokie, love my school and teams, but wish Whit would work on the Hokie Club side of things as well as he’s worked on the coaching front.

    1. Totally agree with you. It sounds like they don’t care about the older people, they are just looking for the new kids in their 30’s etc.

    2. Sounds like they are taking some people for granted. It seems to me it wouldn’t cost a lot to hire a few staff just to make calls and keep up with the long time donors, just to show them they are appreciated. Heck, probably some students would be willing to do such a job for a few extra bucks.

      1. I think they need fresh blood and new ways of communicating with the alumni base.

    3. I am a hokie rep in SW Va. I used to call my larger donors and they acted like they did not want to be bothered unless they needed 16 tickets to a WVU game for the WV fans or tickets for most other big games. I used to add five new members a year at the $100 level and paid the first year fee. I did this for five years and not one of them renewed. The economy in this region does not allow for many luxury purchases. Maybe the economy is better in the northern part of the state. If the teams are consistent in the top ten of course everyone wants to be part. As Chris pointed out, we have to take the steps to get there. To answer Bon Air, please call the Hokie Club and ask to speak to Bill Landsden or Terry Holt or the guys I work directly with Scott Hughes or Scott Davis. These guys will listen and give you as much time as you need. Be sure to come to the town hall meetings that are being held in the next coming weeks.

  11. Clemson and FSU committed to bringing in great coaching staffs that could recruit at a level that would give those programs a chance to compete with any team in the nation. Their donation base has followed with substantially increased support.

    When Whit hired Fuente and paired him with Bud, he decided he wanted to keep the status quo and have a program that would continue to trudge along on the recruiting trail and try to make up for it in player development. Fuente’s history at Memphis proved that was his M.O. There are no recruiting driven benchmarks in the football coaching contracts as certain ADs have innovated with. have As a result, this year, our commitment list has on average, lower caliber players than Duke and Maryland. This is not a winning formula for the future of the football program.

    Asking for increased donations for mediocre football that is destined for more mediocrity based on the staff’s inability to recruit was a wrong place / wrong time decision.

    1. I believe you’re writing off the current staff before they really even get started. Even the Great Beamer took about 7 years to get started. Given the program Frank left for Justin and Bud is light years ahead of the program Frank inherited, I expect great improvement with the new staff and it won’t take 7 years. Silly and unfair to expect it to be done in their first year.

    2. Whit made the perfect pairing with Fuente and Bud. The recruiting will come, it takes time to undue the damage left behind.

      And Memphis has its own recruiting ceiling that has nothing to do with Fuente. He can do much better here.

  12. Random thoughts:
    As much as existing administration doesn’t want to hear it, they are walking away from promises made to Lifetime members. They are using very small thinking. There are apparently only 700 of us so easy to flush us out.
    I think what happens is most drop 2-4 tickets, pay the fee to keep their seats and then next time they lose their seats or parking…..they’ll check out.
    I don’t think any of us quibble with the need for more revenue. It’s being handled in a very ham handed way. Tech already has one of the poorest participation % of any power 5……and that group will bear the brunt of this band aid.
    If I’m in AD and have a say, I extend an olive branch and keep this group engaged. I don’t have a lot of faith in a fan base that has shown over and over, there is little depth and even less appetite to provide philanthropic support.

    This really seems like a band aid. Squeeze existing donors and cover shortfall. We’ll see how this impacts attendance going forward.

    1. Promises made to Lifetime members shouldn’t be broken. I’m only guessing, but I’d think many of those lifetime members would increase their giving voluntarily if they were shown (1) some appreciate (e.g., phone calls, etc) for their lifetime of support; and (2) the numbers as to how Tech giving compares to other schools, i.e., if they see they are giving a lot less than lifetime members at similar schools, maybe they would be more willing to voluntarily increase.

  13. I do not mind giving more but it seems the Hokie Club needs major shakeup as it has not increased the number of givers but now it’s going to be harder especially to get bid donations not much reason to be Hokie Benefactor in 40 years I went from 100 a year to being a Hokie Benefactor and the Hokie Club has grown at what percentage

  14. It is shocking and embarrassing to see the percentage of our contributing alumni compared to the other schools, especially Clemson. Clearly Clemson and others are doing something different. Whit will be all over this.

    Curious to know why we are funding three more varsity sports than Clemson. What are those three “extra” sports?

      1. I think you’ll see a lot of this in college sports over the next 15 years. It will work its way towards football, basketball and baseball on the men’s side, and however many women’s sports it takes to satisfy Title IX.

        Or maybe TV contracts will keep going up and up, and donors will keep giving more and more. If you asked me in 1995 would VT have an athletic budget over $80 million dollars by 2015, I would have chuckled and said “no.”

  15. Would love to see an article on ideas to generate higher participation levels in the HC. Wasn’t IPTAY at Clemson started on the principle of donating $10 a year? We need to get a higher number of graduates in at the $50/year level…

    1. Good point. Seems the real problem is motivation to give just isn’t the same at VT vs Clemson. Maybe we need a better understanding of that. Understanding what drives Clemson fans to be so much more generous in supporting their athletic programs. What motivates Clemson fans so much more than VT fans? How do the two programs, VTAF vs. IPTAY compare in their specifics? How do the policies of the two athletic departments impact the donation habits of each and the giving levels achieved?

  16. Several years ago I sent the Hokie Club a check for $50,000. Nobody asked for it, we received thanks, etc, and pay for seats on the 28 yard line. Not including investment income, that would pay the new Golden Hokie charge for twenty years, not including what I am giving each year.

    As I understand it, I now get to pay the $2,500 all over again, no thanks, no nothing, but screw you you terrible VT alumni who has been going to games since 1948, belonged to the Hokie a Club since I graduated in 1970, helped raise money, and donated to other areas of the University fairly significantly.

    Guys I love VT but I have been totally misled with no apology or anything else. Lied to is more like it. The Hokie Club has problems and has failed to do this job and that is the fault of donors like me? Give me a break. I suspect that they will need to replace me in the entirety and this is not just for athletics. Our family has eight alumni who are affected to one degree or another by this. Something stinks and the mantra, “We have to do something” just doesn’t get it. This is not the Virginia Tech that I attended and have supported for 48 years and it is not what VT should stand for.

    This goes way beyond money; it lacks integrity. UNC here we are.

    1. I completely agree! My story is a little different, we were told that if you pledged and completed the pledge at the Golden Champion membership(5 for $50k) that it was platinum for life but a little higher ranking since you were giving it up front. I am very similar to 23434, we have seats on about 23 yard line. We just completed our gifts (5 GC memberships on 12/31/2015) and basically have been told, we don’t care about you, please give us more money. The unfortunate part is I held up to my agreement with the Hokie Club, now the Hokie Club is not holding up to their agreement. I really thought Virginia Tech and it’s extensions were about integrity and holding true to one another, I guess the lack of integrity is now a reality. I hope all the powers to be realize that the ones who supported the program in down years and continued supporting and finding ways to contribute are the ones who also support the local economy. We are the ones who show up, book the hotels, eat at local establishments when we play a JMU or other smaller non-conference schools. I truly hope that this decision works out and makes Virginia Tech Athletics stronger, but I believe my time has come to an end of financially supporting the Hokies because at the end of the day I do my very best to associate myself with businesses and organizations who value integrity.

      1. I’ll say it differently: Tech has a lot of balls to put the University’s values on the indoor football facility. Loyalty? Honor? You’ve got to be kidding

      2. I do not want to want to disagree with your and 23434’s analysis, but now your giving points will put in a better position to select better seats. Please attend a town hall meeting to discuss the champion levels. There is still time for a few tweaks especially for you guys.

    2. Thank you for helping our school. Have given off and on since the 80’s. regular since 93. I can’t understand why they are screwing people like you. I too think that VPI has changed and not for the good, but it looks like they don’t care about the older generation.

      1. This should not be hard. The school needs to honor “lifetime” covenants its made, or refund donations that were made with the covenant that the donor would receive a lifetime benefit that now cannot be fulfilled.

  17. The one major caveat not in your article is that the seat license fees only include UNRESTRICTED giving. If you give funds for a specific sport (restricted giving), say soccer, that contribution does not count toward your seat donation. Other restricted giving includes endowment contributions, capital contributions, etc. The restricted gifts do count toward your total giving.

    1. That is correct. The “scholarship fund” portion of Hokie Club donations is more or less the unrestricted portion of total donations. HC donations are well over $20 million a year, but some of that is restricted: directed towards a specific facility, and specific program, etc.

  18. I think what’s not been said is that a lot of the anticipated success of this program will be predicated on the success of our football program. If we stumble this year and have a losing record, it will throw a wrench in the recruitment and retention of the Hokie Club.
    I’ve seen a number of people on here post about buying existing tickets on public sale, outside the stadium, pay nothing for parking, etc…basically because we don’t sell out anymore. Yet they say they’re die hard Hokie fans.
    It’s more difficult to sell this membership / donation program on altruistic purposes only…

  19. It has only been in recent years (compared to other schools) that VT decided it wanted to have an outstanding sports program. Also I believe the Hokie Club has not been managed well for a number of years as I have been a member for 29 years and never talked with anyone of the Hokie Club unless I called them and what has the HoKie Club done to enhance the fan experience???: reduce the number of porti potties to make us drink less, cut out stick-it-in, build on parking lots some we have to park farther away.

    1. The Hokie Club is fund raising arm. They don’t build parking lots, put air bubbles on the soccer field or responsible for stick-it -in

      1. No, but the Hokie Club should be a communication arm between Hokie Club members and the athletic administration concerning things which either enhance or decrease the satisfaction of VTAF donor experiences. The policies of the administration are not mutually exclusive. Lack of such communication and feedback could be a root cause of lower donation levels as compared to other programs we need to compete with.

  20. overdue in my opinion. Needs to happen on two fronts, those of us that have been giving need to give more and Hokie Club and the rest of us need to get more people involved and in the club. Go after the graduating class big time and don’t forget those athletes that had scholarships, they should pay some back when they get employed.

  21. Hope it helps, but I stopped my donation to Duke and doubled my VTAF. Eff duke – they played the Muslim call to prayer from the duke Chappell. Done with them donation wise n

  22. Problem is VT alumnus make more money because they work in northern VA, where housing is ridiculous. $42k in Florida is greAt, where the average house is less then what’s in my money clip. Roll up to Arlington, Vienna, McLean and we talking $7-10k per month for an upper middle class house.

    1. Um no. Housing is not cheaper in FL. Compare northern va to south fl if it’s not even its more expensive in fl.

      1. S Florida has little to do with FSU or UF fan base. They draw from the northern and middle part of state.
        Face it Tech fans are cheap

  23. 4% is shameful. We have had enough success, in the ACC , in sports other than football to warrant better giving than that.

    1. Some are saying “They’re doing fine without any donation from me. Obviously, they don’t need my donation.”
      How do you get those who think this way to care?
      How do you get those who don’t care, to care?

  24. One metric I did not see was contribution amount per seat. I did a little rough math and came up with the following:
    FSU – 82,300 capacity – $25m – $303.77 per seat
    CU – 81,500 capacity – $22.5m – $276.07 per seat
    VT – 66,233 capacity – $9.8m – $147.96 per seat

    This is completely football-centric but it shows how much less Tech is contributing on a per-seat basis. Should Tech increase donations to be in line with CU and FSU (let’s say $275 per seat), Tech would still only be raising $18,214,075, and still be behind the two. Tech fans/alum would actually need to be paying $377.46 per seat to reach the equivalent $25m that FSU raised in 2014. I wonder what amount the AD is trying to reach. Because if the end result is some pay more, some pay less, some stay the same, I don’t see how we’d be getting to that level without some pretty hefty donations in there.

    1. I believe that This move had to be made to remain competitive in the ACC. The bigger question, the elephant in the room, is the cost of a scholarship going up 60% since 2008. This IS the problem. Higher education costs cannot go up at twice the rate of inflation forever. The people and the public sector cannot afford this rate of increase.

      1. This is a problem that higher education is dealing with across the board. An article I read said it’s mostly the result of expenditures on facilities and on salaries of admin people.

  25. I agree with hokiehill1117’s summary. With the increase in the golden and silver minimum, those levels are all going to have to give more to get the same benefits. They need to be reaching out to more people instead of hurting the ones they have currently. I understand the need, and thankfully can afford to bite the bullet and pay more… but I am upset that I feel like they’ve missed the point. Look at that percentage of alumni that give… go after the people that AREN’T donating and buying tickets. There were a ton of empty seats last year (especially club seats, etc). There is opportunity they are just missing.

  26. For the math whizzes here, how much extra to the bottom line are these new seat fees going to raise?

    1. The estimate, in speaking to people associated with the Hokie Club, is that it will bring in $3 million more.

  27. OK, Clemson has 55% of the living alumni as VT that give 4.5 times more than Tech athelitic donors. We really need to start a major Hokie Club recrutement drive. Sick them Whit!

  28. It seems those being asked to pay more (the most) are those that would fit in the larger accumulated giving categories. For this to work, the VTAF has to assume that those individuals that have been enjoying their A level seats because of accumulated giving but paying less annually, will decide to give more annually to keep them. If part of the motivation of the change is to get more individuals to give, I may have missed the part where folks giving nothing will suddenly be motivated to give – other than perhaps the additional awareness that will be generated by this campaign?

  29. I am one of the ones that will have to pay a lot more to keep my seats and parking as my previously achieved status is essentially now worthless. The sins of the previous administration have come home to roost. Never capitalized on the national championship ‘contending’ years (plural, hence the ‘ marks, instead of just 1999), never capitalized on ACC membership. That being said, the needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few, and a change was desperately needed. Still not happy, but it is what it is.

  30. It will be interesting to see how the midfield seats are filled in if the donation requirements are not met.

    1. they will be met.. if you look at the sections and are familiar with seat selection based on where you fall, those sections are full and very near full after platinum chooses. Plus if you also look, they increased the number of seats you can buy. Plat was 6, now it’s, Diamond can get 10. If you had friends pooling money together you could have some pretty sick group seating.

  31. Thanks for the explanation. Under the circumstances, the move is badly needed. Whit is not afraid to make the tough decisions.

      1. We’re following a model of the top schools in the ACC. Those schools have fewer varsity sports. Fewer varsity sports may be part of the “price to pay”.

        1. Agreed. Under the old model, dollars could be earmarked for olympic sports and still count towards donation points. Under the new model, those dollars seem to be shifted to purchasing seat rights. Puts olympic sports in a beggar’s position from my perspective

        2. Yeah, I’d expect some contraction of olympic sports in general going forward, not just limited to VT.

  32. Here’s what I still don’t get. Article is written with a “some will pay more, some can pay less, some won’t be affected” theme. I think that’s probably true. So why do so many people seem to take a “we had to do this” stance when the impact as presented sounds pretty wishy-washy?

    1. From one article I read, current giving about $9M – expected addition is $3-3.5M – that’s an increase of 38%. Now, I don’t know if that figures any additional Hokie Club members or not but as the whole plan is intended to raise more money, folks will be spending more on average. Nothing else makes sense. None of this addresses the fact that it is from all accounts necessary, but raising more money means someone/s going to pay more.

      1. Correct. Landsen has done this before when he was at Memphis. It was one of the reasons he got hired here. All their research, plus Landsen’s past experience, clearly show that this is going to increase giving levels.

        1. There will be some competition between current donors. I believe they are counting on it to happen.
          My wife and I were just discussing where we could sit with our current donation for 2 seats instead of the 4 we have and where we could sit with a higher donation to keep 4 seats or drop down to 2. We’re already doing the math.

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