Note: The following appears in the February issue of Orange: The Experience. For full access to all of the publication's content, join IPTAY today by calling 864-656-2115.
Every building and structure that is built needs a strong foundation, and much of its strength comes from the cornerstone. This is the thought process behind IPTAY’s Cornerstone Partner Program, one that targets potential donors who can contribute major gifts of at least $2.5 million to aid Clemson athletics as it attempts to improve and develop its facilities.
"The program was created to identify and attract some of the very top donors for Clemson athletics, to put a program together that would interest them in supporting facilities, some of our endowment campaigns, doing things over and above what they might do for buying tickets or getting preferred parking or things like that," said Davis Babb, IPTAY's chief executive officer. "So we created this about four years ago to build up our major gifts program."
The program started out as an idea to increase the amount of major gifts, and it came to fruition as a necessity to complete plans.
"While major gifts had grown, I believed there was probably an opportunity to attract a specific group of higher wealth individuals who might really see themselves as being able to do something a little special to help us be a little special.
"So it was perfect timing when Dan Radakovich, our athletic director, laid out a massive facility plan of over $200 million that we needed to try to raise. It was going to help all kinds of sports, and we believed that in order to raise that kind of money, we needed to generate some major gifts, and we had to identify who some of those people would be and then provide some benefits for them."
The name of the program applies to more than just the facilities it builds...it applies to the donors who make building them possible.
"Any building that you build has to have a cornerstone, has to have that main foundation, and we utilized that as a way to say these donors are going to literally be cornerstones for us. They’re going to help us, from the ground up, build these facilities."
Since its inception, the program has aided the completion of numerous projects. The first such project was the baseball player facility at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Next came a complete renovation of all of the suites in Memorial Stadium as well as building a new South Club in Memorial Stadium. Other completed projects include the renovation of Littlejohn Coliseum, the building of the Allen N. Reeves Football Complex, the Oculus and the bridge connecting the north and south sides of Memorial Stadium.
Currently, the program is funding the complete renovation of the tennis facility. Babb stated that they currently have completed about two-thirds of their initial plans, however, there is still more to complete.
Future projects include upgrading and modernizing the IPTAY offices, building a soccer operations facility by the soccer practice fields similar to the football complex and building the new softball stadium as well as other necessary facilities for the sport’s inception in the near future.
Donors don’t just aid the construction of athletic facilities. Donated funds also aid student-athlete services programs and endowments.
"They’re giving to not only facilities, but some of them are specifically giving to programmatic things like endowed scholarship funds and other things to build our academic support for our student-athletes, because we’re about more than facilities. It’s about the total student-athlete experience. Some of them want to give to projects, while others say, ‘I think I’d rather give to programming that helps student-athletes'."
The program has been a huge success thus far, and it has even grown beyond the scope of athletics. Babb stated that the reception to the program has been "very favorable" so far.
"It’s now grown. Once we got the one, and the two and the three, word spread, and then our team has done a great job. Everyone here has had a part in raising funds for the program to the point that the university has asked to have an academic cornerstone program. The university asked us if they could use that name, and of course we said 'yes.' They’re now aggressively trying to raise dollars for an academic cornerstone program as well to support some of the academic initiatives on campus."
The initial goal for the Cornerstone Partner Program was to obtain 10 donors. The program currently has nine donors, so the goal has been increased to 20 donors. Though the program has accomplished a lot, it needs more donors in order to achieve future goals.
Anyone who may be interested in donating to the program should contact director of IPTAY major gifts Aaron Dunham. Babb stated that he welcomes the opportunity to speak with potential donors, and there are many others working in IPTAY who can help donors. Donors do not have to donate all at once. Donations may be made over the course of a five-year period.
Becoming a cornerstone partner comes with many benefits. Partners will be recognized with a central, visible marker in the athletics district that lists all cornerstone partners as well as alongside other partners on all facilities that have been constructed, repurposed or rebuilt with gifts to the Cornerstone Partner Program. Name recognition isn’t the only perk.
"We have given them special access in football and basketball facilities," explained Babb. "We took them to the White House in the summer when the football team was met by president Trump. We do special things with them at College Football Playoff games. We invite them and give them special access. So what we’re trying to do is give them things in recognition of their giving that they might not otherwise be able to have access to."
Babb also wants anyone who knows a cornerstone partner to thank them for their contributions and to send names of those who may be interested in becoming a donor to IPTAY.
Anyone who has questions, would like more information or is interested in becoming a donor should contact IPTAY by emailing email@example.com or by calling 1-800-CLEMSON.
CORNERSTONE PARTNERS OF CLEMSON ATHLETICS
Bill Hendrix Family
Allen N. Reeves Family
Joe & Bobbi Swann
Michael & Robyn Nieri
Melvin & Dollie Younts
Gerald & Candice Glenn