ABILENE – ACU director of athletics Lee De Leon announced Tuesday that the second year of the revamped Wildcat Club produced a mammoth 210 percent increase in annual giving.
The first year of the club (2016) produced a little more than $455,000 in annual giving (donations towards the athletics department's operating budget), a number that was outdone by almost $1 million in the second year (2017).
In addition to the growth in annual giving, membership in the Wildcat Club grew from 703 in 2016 to 981 in 2017. The impressive 40 percent increase in total members led to an overall eight percent increase in total dollars raised by the club, going from $6.25 million in 2016 to $6.77 million in 2017. Some of the other increases from 2016 to 2017 are just as startling: a 156 percent increase in unrestricted gifts (from $210,120 in 2016 to $588,113 in 2017) and a 257 percent increase in restricted gifts to individual sport excellence funds ($245,258 in 2016 compared to $876,475 in 2017).
"I'm blown away by the generosity of our Wildcat Club members over the course of the last year," De Leon said. "They have really stepped up to the plate to support our 400 student-athletes in an unprecedented way. I'm thankful for the leadership and hard work of (deputy director of athletics) Dave Kinard and his external operations staff in spearheading our fundraising efforts."
The Wildcat Club, the official fundraising organization of ACU Athletics, was launched in January 2016 with an original goal of reaching 500 members during the 2016 calendar year. By the end of that year, 703 people had signed up for the club, helping ACU Athletics raise more than $6.25 million. Last year's goal was for 900 Wildcat Club members in 2017, a number that was easily surpassed with the 981 members that eventually joined.
Wildcat Club memberships start at just $100 per year, and the "S" level ($100-$249 yearly) is the level that saw the greatest membership increase, going from 292 members in 2016 to 504 members in 2017. Here's the breakdown of each level in 2017:
• W Level ($20,000 or more): 42 members
• I Level ($10,000-$19,999): 22 members
• L Level ($5,000-$9,999): 34 members
• D Level ($2,500-$4,999): 21 members
• C Level ($1,000-$2,499): 114 members
• A Level ($500-$999): 106 members
• T Level ($250-$499): 138 members
• S Level ($100-$249): 504 members
"The growth of our membership shows that that our alumni and fans understand the needs we have as an athletics department," Kinard said. "Their support will help us to better compete with our Southland Conference peers, but more importantly, provide a Christ-centered and first-class experience for our student-athletes."
Membership in the Wildcat Club for 2018 can be renewed on an annual basis and all gifts are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by IRS regulations. Besides renewing through the mail (renewals will be mailed out in mid-March), those interested in renewing online can visit acuwildcatclub.com and click on the "Login" tab at the top right of the web page. If you have never logged in previously, please click "Forgot your Password?" and follow the prompts. For questions about renewals or to make your donation over the phone, please call 325-674-2323.
If you're interested in joining the Wildcat Club, join today by clicking here and making an online donation of $100 or more to any area within ACU Athletics. Dollars raised by the Wildcat Club will directly impact ACU's 400 student-athletes by providing scholarships, enhancing facilities and promoting academic and athletics success.