From Madison Overbey: The Impact of the Volunteer Army


Two months ago, Director of Athletics, Ron Wellman stood before a crowded room of people and posed a powerful question: “Do you make an impact?” There is no doubt the Volunteer Army is making a tremendous impact on Wake Forest Athletics.

Rewind for a moment back to 2010. Wake Forest is about to launch a $600 million campaign and Athletics had a list of priorities totaling $95 million. The Deacon Club had one leadership group—the Board of Directors—who focused on shaping the strategy and vision for achieving this monumental task. Now, back to present day. As of February 2018, the Deacon Club has raised over $225 million during the Wake Will Lead campaign, which begs the question: How have we achieved such jaw-dropping results these past eight years?

We credit that to our Volunteer Army, which now consists of nearly 150 individuals serving on seven different boards and councils with 13 active subcommittees. These groups focus on many areas within the Deacon Club and Athletic Department, including Annual Fund strategy, donor experience, communications, the student-athlete experience, game-day experience and endowment and estate giving. Last year alone, the Volunteer Army initiated 15 new programs, including:

  • Designing the highly successful Former Student-Athlete Giving Challenge
  • Instituting the Next Level campaign
  • Creating a comprehensive estate/endowment campaign
  • Launching Deacon Digest, a quarterly newsletter for student-athlete families
  • Developing a student-athlete parent-to-parent outreach strategy
  • Funding two new staff positions: Performance Nutritionist and Sports Psychologist

Due to knowing there is a direct correlation between our fundraising success and the effort, expertise and support of our volunteers, we strive to grow the Volunteer Army even larger. This past year, we have launched two new volunteer groups strategizing ways in which we can improve the fan experience within football and basketball games and helping the Athletic Department to better connect and engage with alumni, parents and friends. This year, the Volunteer Army is helping to launch Deacs Day of Giving, our first-ever giving day, by encouraging their networks of friends and classmates to invest in the Athletic Department’s mission to Develop Champions.

The next step in growing our volunteer base is expanding our network of Deacon Connectors. This group is focused on sharing the Deacon Club story and the Athletic Department’s vision, while encouraging Deacs around the country to get involved and make a difference. Deacon Connectors take part in quarterly conference calls to stay up-to-date with inside information they can share with others.

So now let me ask you: Are you making an impact? It is exciting to think about the influence the Volunteer Army will have on our department over the remainder of the Wake Will Lead campaign and beyond. We want you to join the movement!

Sign up here if you would like more information or would like to be part of Deacon Connectors and the Volunteer Army.

Go Deacs!

Madison Overbey
Director, Donor Experience