FUNDRAISING: The Alumni Connection

(Some schools and clubs are not allowed to fund raise: workaround – booster or motivated parent).

Most swim teams do not receive much financial support from their alumni. The reason for this is simple – some swim teams don’t know how to ask.

My Classic example. Swim team is fairly strong, with our class members started to graduate in the late ’70’s. That means we have over thirty years of alumni. However, in those thirty plus years, I cannot remember one time the swim team ever asked for money.

At a recent reunion many of the alumni commented that they give money to the university, give money to the alumni association, give to their individual college, the football  and other athletics program and other school organizations. However, the swim team means much more to them than any of those entities, and they would eagerly give if the swim team needed help. All the team has to do is ask.

Focus on a Single Donor or Multiple Donors:

Ask the Right Way: By former Olympic Coach Frank Keefe

First, funding is for a specific need. Maybe the swim team needs a new underwater video system, a TV for the training room, lane line replacements, etc. Regardless, a specific need and reason. Here are some choices of interaction.

The Phone Call: This is hard to do and hard to connect, but over time yields great results for alumni re-connection to the team

The Letter (or email): Mail contact makes it easy to ask to their alumni for their help for a Need. Asking for money and explaining why it is needed and how much is needed. This has to be a letter.

A letter is personal and will get a better response. Todays swimmers are excellent with making short videos, this can be your letter, a video letter is a popular and very powerful method.

There are methods of contact, Traditional and Crowd-funding.

#1 Traditional: A personalized Letter. (or email with link)

The letter should have a self addressed, stamped envelope for the alumni to send their check in.

Remember, you need to make this as easy on the alum as possible. If you make them fish out an envelope and find a stamp they are more likely to put the request aside and forget about it.

Use or create an updated alumni address list. Make it a team project each semester to get in touch with each alumnus and get their updated contact info. That way no one ever falls out of touch and there is quality interaction between the swimmers and every graduated alumni.

#2 Crowd-funding:

In today’s world, Crowd-funding is popular and easy to setup, but it less personalized than the traditional approach. Funding on the platform can be reached much quicker as social media can accelerate the contact to the alumni. Use the swim team network, alumni database and email and post on social media.


It makes good marketing sense to create a giving level that you hope each alum would attain. For example, create the XXX giving level starting at $100. The XXX needs to be a clever name from your swim team. Possibly each alum that reaches that level for the academic year is to be congratulated and posted on the swim team website and in social media newsletters. Those donating $1,000+ can receive a one on one video analysis with the coach using the Swim Stroke Doctor underwater video system.

Obviously, the goal is to get as many alumni to that level as possible. This will create an incentive for them to get there.

Thank you and Future Marketing:

Finally, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, the swim team must thank the funders for their donations by letter. This needs to be the #1 priority when the funds are received. The thank you letter must be personalized and sent the day the donation arrives. If this isn’t done quickly and properly, the swim team runs the risk of alienating their alumni base which will eliminate all future donations. Marketing of future swim team events is a critical component of additional funding from the swim team alumni. Keep them active, keep them giving. Just Keep Swimming!