As of Tuesday, July 24, 2018
MONMOUTH — Western Oregon University is looking to expand support for its student-athlete population in a new fundraising campaign titled “Drive for 325.”
The campaign, built from the ground up by the Wolves Club, WOU’s fundraising department for athletics, and Michael Feuling, assistant athletic director for development, is a donor-driven program where community members, alumni and current students can donate money that will go entirely to the student-athletes in the forms of scholarships, or toward extra gear, equipment, bigger recruiting budgets and anything else that will help to enhance the athletic program.
The campaign’s goal is to raise $325,000 by June 30, 2019. The number 325 represents the number of athletes at WOU and ideally, the campaign wants 325 donors geared up throughout the year, one for each athlete.
“We’ve been looking for ways in the past to grow the Wolves Club and centralize our funding, and we felt we needed something our fans, alumni, and donors could rally behind,” Feuling said. “Roughly, we have 325 student athletes a year, and the thinking is, if we could get one donor for each athlete, that could be a great way for our 325 athletes to be honored.”
To donate, go to www.wouwolves.com/drivefor325, a website that allows donors to contribute as well as see the campaign’s progress throughout the year. Donors can donate as little as $25 or up to the $1,000s, whichever they decide, and they can donate multiple times, although they will only be counted once. Donors can also choose where they want their money to go, whether it be to a specific sports program like basketball or to a general fund for extra gear and equipment.
Once a donor has contributed to the campaign, they will receive year-long perks, such as tailgating at WOU football games, and will be put into drawings and raffles for prizes. Feuling’s goal for the donors is to make sure they stay involved in the process throughout the year, since they are the ones making the Drive’s goal ultimately possible.
“I thought it was a marvelous first initiative and am just excited about it and hope we can reach that goal,” Curtis Campbell, Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, said. “Anytime we get additional resources it helps, and we have mini projects we can utilize the funds on, and it will be great for us to tackle the needs we have for our new student athletics.”
WOU is currently ranked last in the GNAC conference in the amount of scholarship aid given to student-athletes.
“That’s something we wanted to turn around,” Feuling said. “We took the year to look and see what we had been doing on the fundraising side, what worked, what hadn’t worked, what other DII institutions around the nation are doing, and we just came up with the program we have.”
The university’s lack of funding is caused by a number of different factors, the biggest of which is the constant rising cost of tuition, room, board and other expenses related to competing at the NCAA level.
“With the Drive for 325 it is our hope that we can keep up with those costs and further enhance our programs and our student-athletes,” Feuling said.
Since launching the campaign, Feuling said the university has stepped up tremendously in helping the athletes get what they need to further enhance what they’re capable of doing.
“We have a great coaching staff, great student athletes, and we were looking at a way to honor them,” he said. “We feel very confident that the sky’s the limit for WOU athletics moving forward.”