$146,845 from 1,829 donors will soon be flowing into Swarthmore’s athletic program after the successful “Garnet Challenge.”
From the 2nd to the 5th of April this year, Swarthmore hosted a donation campaign aimed at raising interest and money in the school’s athletic department. According to the Garnet Challenge’s website, the motivation behind the campaign was a promise that, if the school were able to raise money from 300 donors in the three-day interval, an anonymous donor would give an additional $25,000 to the department.
Deriving from the 300 donor goal, each sports team at Swarthmore was given a “team goal” to fulfill. Coaches then invited their team members to donate and to let friends and family know about the campaign.
The idea of having a “team goal” definitely helped the college reach its goal of 300 donors. The “team goal” created a friendly competition between athletic teams for which team could raise the most money from the most donors. As a further incentive, the team with the most donors was promised an extra $1,000 for their team only. The primary means of spreading the information for the challenge was through student-athletes, so having those student-athletes invested in the challenge was crucial.
The goal amount of donors for each team varied based on team size and how much the athletic department believed the team could raise. For example, while the goal for Men’s Lacrosse was 101 donors, the goal for Women’s Field Hockey was 31 donors.
An essential part of the campaign was not only to get significant sums of money donated to the athletics program, but also to raise general interest and involvement in Swarthmore Athletics. The $25,000 from the anonymous donor was contingent on the amount of donors contributing, not on a particular sum of money. 300 people could have given just $1 each, and the $25,000 still would have been donated.
“It’s all about being a team player for this challenge, so the number of supporters is what matters most,” reads the Garnet Challenge website. “We encourage and appreciate gifts of all sizes, from $1 to $100,000. Show your pride and support current and future Garnet student-athletes by making a gift today!”
The slogan of the campaign was “Rise Up with the Garnet,” and the campaign website used the phrase to spread additional awareness for the athletic program at Swarthmore.
“After making your gift, share the love on social media by tagging your posts with #GarnetRiseUp and encouraging your teammates, friends, and family to make their gifts,” the website read.
A promotional video was also made for the challenge, featuring pictures of the athletic facilities and student-athletes in play. The video also included several motivational messages, such as “Be one of our 300 donors in 3 days” and “Together we can rise to the challenge.”
Over the course of the three days, with the help of team support and adequate promotion, the Garnet Challenge was a huge success. The goal of 300 donors was smashed, as 1,829 donors ended up contributing to the campaign. After the initial 300 donor goal was reached, the anonymous donor gave the $25,000.
Following this, another anonymous donor pledged $5,000 if 500 donors ended up contributing, and this became a reality soon after. Additionally, Swarthmore’s own Director of Athletics, Adam Hertz, promised to give $1,000 if 1,000 donors were reached. Once this goal was achieved, a generous donor pledged an additional $1,500 if 1,500 donors participated in the drive. This final challenge was also reached, thanks to the support of the 1,829 contributors in the challenge.
I talked to Head Golf Coach Jim Heller, who was excited about the campaign’s results.
“It was a drive overall. All the teams were a great help towards reaching the goal,” Heller said.
A total of $146,845 was raised for the Swarthmore Athletics, a very impressive sum of money considering it was raised in only three days. Furthermore, $146,845 yielded an average per-capita donation of just over $80—again, impressive.
Coach Heller also commented on how the athletic department plans on using the money.
“The athletic department will likely use the money for projects that they could not have afforded from the regular school budget,” Heller said.
Swarthmore Athletics does not receive as much money from the school as athletics department at some other similar-sized colleges do, giving the Garnet Challenge and the donations from it a special importance in keeping the athletics program funded and thriving.
“Rise Up with the Garnet” has lent its way to helping each and every athlete at Swarthmore, and the generosity of the 1,829 donors will not be forgotten.