Late last year, The Citadel's Brigadier Foundation kicked off a "high tech" fund-raising campaign that added e-mail blasts, data analytics and personal websites to its usual array of phone calls and brochures.
The results for the first year are in, and executive director Jerry Baker said he's very pleased with a 20 percent growth in membership and an increase of about $120,000 in the amount the Brigadier Foundation was able to give to The Citadel's athletic department.
But Baker also stressed that as tuition continues to rise at The Citadel, so does the pressure on the Brigadier Foundation, which provides money to the military school for athletic scholarships.
The Foundation gave about $1.23 million to the athletic department this year, an increase of some $120,000 over the 2009 figure. And with 221 new members added over the last year, total membership is more than 1,700, an increase of about 20 percent, according to Baker.
Baker gives much of the credit to a campaign designed by former Citadel football player Al Kennickell and his marketing company, The Kennickell Group.
"The campaign met every expectation we had and exceeded most of them," Baker said. "Adding 221 new members is a huge feat for us, and is also really important for us."
Central to the campaign was the e-mail blast, which included a link taking each alum to a personal website explaining membership offers.
Those offers, at various levels, included a framed, personalized print of either the stadium or parade ground with the member's name spelled out by cadets, and free tickets to football, basketball and baseball games.
The Kennickell Group also put together data to help the Brigadier Foundation target new members. For example, it found that alumni living within 25 miles of campus are 10 times more likely to join -- but that there were 2,000 alumni within that radius who were not members of the Brigadier Foundation.
"It involved more technology than we've ever used before," Baker said. "We've always been good in one-to-one contact, but this helped us use the Internet more, use social media a little bit more. We've found that not only younger alums but more and more of our retired individuals spend more and more time on the computer."
The increasing cost of tuition -- The Citadel is raising tuition about 13 percent increase this year -- also brings up the cost of the more than 300 athletic scholarships that the school awards. Right now, the athletic scholarship budget is about $3 million, Baker said.
"And when tuition goes up, our scholarship needs go up," he said.
"With the economy the way it is, with the state giving less funds to support The Citadel in general, our bill keeps going up," Baker said. "To give $120,000 more than we did last year is great, but we need to actually do better than that.
"On the one hand, we really appreciate the wonderful support we get from our alumni and supporters. But if we stay at the level where we are, we will keep falling behind."
The Brigadier Foundation has one of its biggest fund-raising events this week, with the Brigadier Kickoff Classic golf tournament set for Wild Dunes on Thursday.