As the Athletic Department continues to build upon its momentum, 2017-18 proved to be another record-breaking year in a variety of areas. Not only were new fundraising records achieved, but it was also an incredible year in regard to athletic success. Between winning our second straight football bowl game, cheering on the men’s tennis team as they captured three national championships, and witnessing Jennifer Kupcho become the first-ever NCAA individual champion for the women’s golf program, there has certainly been a lot to celebrate.
In looking at last year’s fundraising success—from capital projects to the Annual Fund to endowment—there are numerous highlights I’d like to share. Collectively, Deacon Club members provided a catalyst for our department to achieve new milestones with an impressive $22,972,366 in new commitments and total cash received for all categories totaling $24,786,863. Additionally, the Wake Will Lead campaign continued to see unprecedented results, bringing the total raised to $233,789,779 on an original goal of $95,000,000.
Led by the efforts of several significant gifts, including 41 new commitments of $100,000 or more, donors continued to provide the fuel for the transformational building boom that is currently underway with our athletic facilities. In total, $11,382,797 in gifts and $4,658,887 in new pledges were received in support of capital projects during the 2017-18 fiscal year. Significant milestones included the completion of several projects, including the Jack W. Owen II Soccer Video Board and Jim Leighton Scoreboard, as well as renovations to the sports medicine/hydrotherapy space, Soccer Practice Complex, volleyball competition gym and locker room, and display upgrades at the Coliseum.
2017-18 also marked the second consecutive record-breaking year for the Deacon Club Annual Fund, setting records for total dollars raised, total donors and number of new members. The generosity of Deacon Club members generated $7,373,827, allowing Wake Forest Athletics to further invest in academic support, recruiting and student-athlete well-being. While over 1,400 donors chose to increase their giving above what they had contributed the previous year, the addition of new donors also made a major impact. In total, 685 new individuals made a gift to the Deacon Club, which produced nearly $500,000 in new revenue.
As we continue to emphasize the importance of our athletic endowment, there has definitely been an upward trend. With a current athletic endowment of approximately $35 million, we have set the substantial goal of fully endowing Wake Forest Athletics by 2040, requiring a total investment of $640 million. Between student-athlete scholarships, coaches’ positions and special programs, donors supported a variety of endowment-related initiatives. In the past year, 22 new endowed funds were established to help fund student-athlete scholarships, while three program endowments (men’s golf, men’s tennis, women’s track & field and cross country) were created to help coaches meet the individual and unique needs of their respective operations.
Beyond these areas, the Deacon Club Volunteer Army continued to play a major role in the department’s efforts to Develop Champions. Comprised of over 110 active members, the Volunteer Army continued to enhance the Deacon Club’s fundraising strategies in 2017-18 through a multitude of new initiatives. Its members also made it possible to fund a full-time sports psychologist who will help boost the Performance Team’s efforts to ensure the well-being of all Wake Forest student-athletes.
Without your generous and loyal support, we simply could not achieve this level of success. I want to personally thank you for propelling our programs forward and making a difference in the lives of Wake Forest student-athletes.
Together, we have made so much possible and it is important that we pause and celebrate these special accomplishments. While there is still work to be done, it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come. I look forward to what lies ahead, and I know there’s a bright future in store for Wake Forest Athletics.
(Please note: This article was originally published in the August 2018 issue of Gold Rush.)