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Liberty Athletics Development Reaches $1 Million in Fundraising
The Flames Club began in 1979 and is the grass-roots booster club for the Liberty University Athletics Department. Funds contributed through the annual fund help to meet the operational needs of the athletics program. Membership begins at $50, with ascending levels up to $10,000. Members can receive preferred seating, parking and pre-game dining privileges, based upon contribution level. Membership is annual, and donors can also refuse benefits for tax purposes.
As recently as 2004, the Flames Club annual fund total had never been higher than $53,000. A new record was reached in 2006, when the annual fund total reached $243,000, contributed by 281 members. As of Sept. 16, 2007, the Flames Club had 275 members, who had donated a total of $284,000, breaking the 2006 record with three-and-a-half months remaining in the fiscal year.
Capital gifts are donated to help construct new facilities or improve existing ones. Capital gifts do not result in Flames Club benefits for the donor, but can result in naming-rights opportunities. Gifts can range from $1,000 to name a locker to seven-figure gifts to build a new facility. Total year-to-date capital gifts are $718,000, compared to just $75,000 at the end of 2006.
The combined total for the Flames Club annual fund and capital gifts this year-to-date exceeds the $1 million plateau. These totals do not include contributions from the 750-member Student Flames Club, designed for resident undergraduate students, or the 200-member Flames Kids Club, comprised of kids age 14 and under.
Bob Good, Director of Athletics Development & Flames Club, pointed to key personnel in the athletics department who have changed the culture as the reason for the recent increase in contributions.
"Obviously, hiring Danny Rocco in December of 2005 created a new era of enthusiasm and optimism for Liberty Football and Liberty Athletics in general. As a result, people have responded by partnering with us through their financial support. We have seen a significant increase in new donors. At the same time, many of our long-term donors are increasing their gifts in a renewed commitment to the shared sacrifice that is required to take our program to the highest level."
Good went on to echo the often-heard statement by Director of Athletics, Jeff Barber, that they fully expect recent hires Ritchie McKay and Jim Toman to have the same kind of impact on the men's basketball and baseball programs, respectively.
When Barber stepped on campus 19 months ago, he brought a new vision for Liberty Athletics. Poised with the experience and knowledge to execute that vision, from increased attendance, improvement of facilities, to the efficiency and professionalism of operations as evidence, Barber and his staff have set a standard of excellence and cultivated an environment for success.
For all of the progress made thus far, Good said this is just the beginning. "Our short-term goal is to reach $500,000 in Flames Club annual fund giving and then work our way to over $1 million in contributions, apart from capital gifts. The best in FCS football are raising $2-3 million in annual fund donations and we have to compete with them in that arena as we also compete with them on the field."
For more information about the Flames Club and contributing to Liberty Athletics, call 434-582-2178, e-mail FlamesClub@Liberty.edu, or visit the LibertyFlames.com website.