Strength in Numbers

This spring we've been subject to a lot of swirl regarding the future of Idaho athletics. From our outstanding President calling alumni to act now to strengthen the program, to public speculations by the SBOE that shook all 3 State Universities, to endless conference restructuring debates. Ultimately, improving our position rests in the same hands it has rested in since we returned to 1-A in the '90s: Our hands. The message is as simple as it has always been: There is strength in numbers.

Editor's Note: Our effort at VandalVenue to provide a VSF form began prior to the near loss of University of Idaho President Robert Hoover last week. President Hoover is stepping up to the plate to see Idaho through this important growth phase, and we (the fans) need to do the same. If you're not a donor to the Vandal Scholarship Fund, we now have a sign up sheet (PDF) for you (left hand margin, halfway down). If you are a donor, please use this easy form to renew and/or increase your pledge. More importantly, please email this form to Idaho alums and fans you know and encourage them to join. President Hoover needs all of us to join together and help the University meet its ultimate goals.

In a perfect world, Mike Bohn would have an extensive staff with adequate financial support to seek new booster members. They'd be fielding endless phone calls with anxious donors looking for a place to send thousands of dollars burning a hole in their pocket. Facility upgrades would just happen.

But its not a perfect world, particularly in the arena of mid-major collegiate athletics where budgets are already spread thin. Mike Bohn, Jim Senter, and the rest of the Idaho Vandal Scholarship Fund staff do an outstanding job (in my opinion) with limited resources, communicating to an alumni base spread all over the state and northwest region.

We're lucky to have them, but our ultimate success in developing this program will come on a more grass roots level. WE, the fans, need to drive this effort…we can't rely on Bohn and Senter to do it for us. They don't have the resources, and the job is too big with a timeline that is too short. Believe me, they are devoted to this cause, but they won't be here forever. We, however, will.

I'll share one example of what I have done, and hopefully it will trigger an idea that better suits your personality. Its pretty simple actually. A couple weeks ago, I received my Vandal Scholarship Fund renewal form in the mail. It spells out the gift levels, and has a form where I fill in my information and desired gift level. Having been a VSF member for a couple years now, I know I can simply call Kate Jorgensen at the VSF office and renew (or even join) over the phone, or by email. But I also know we are kicking off a membership drive in August.

Instead of mailing in the form, I called Kate and updated my information over the phone. I then made a list of people I thought might be interested in joining VSF. My criteria was pretty broad: Family members (siblings, parents, cousins), classmates, acquaintances with enough resources to be looking to give away charitable gifts for tax reasons (there are still a few people like that around), and so on. I then picked 1 person out of that list who I thought might be the most interested in helping the program out, and I sent my form to him. I included a stamped envelope, addressed to the VSF Office so he wouldn't have to bother with it. I included a note that essentially said "The Vandals need our help." In this case he chose to join, and since he lives out of state, really didn't even know this effort was taking place.

Whether or not this would work for you, the effort is one part of the concept behind "Getting in the Game." Its far more effective for the members of VSF to grow our member base through our own acquaintances, than it is to rely on a handful of individuals to seek new members for the entire organization. Think of it like an American Heart Association Fund Raising Drive. The AHA doesn't individually call on donors. They give forms to people interested in helping out the cause (i.e. the AHA Heartwalk), and rely on those people to seek donations. VSF really is no different. Again, we could rely on Bohn, Senter and their staff to grow the organization, but it will be far more effective if we do our part as well.

As I've mentioned in the past, I think we as VSF members have done well to stick together (membership growth has been stagnant at about 2,500 members the past couple of years, but has doubled since the move to 1-A) considering the recent struggles of our most visible programs. But the basketball teams (both men's and women's hoops) appear to be finally headed in the right direction with the new coaching hires. Track has remained a strong suit throughout. And as far as the football team goes, we (at least us at believe this year's team will be more competitive and deep then its been the past 2 or 3 years. The team plays a nasty schedule (at least early on), and is still young defensively, but the changes made this off-season appear so far to be a step in the right direction.

As we've discussed throughout the spring, they need our help in getting the resources necessary to compete at this level. But, as with most things in life, it's a much easier battle when more people are involved. Every little bit helps.

For those of you that are not annual donors to Idaho athletics yet, we've worked together with the VSF office to provide a Donation/Membership Form here. The Form can be accessed in the left hand margin (about half way down), or by clicking the link below. Simply print it out, fill in the necessary information, and mail it to the VSF office in Moscow.

VSF Membership Form

You can also use this form to call the VSF office directly and pledge over the phone (208-885-0221). Or, print a copy out yourself and send it to a friend. Or, better yet, email a link to this site (or directly to the form) to a friend and encourage them to consider joining.

However our list of donors grows, its important that we ALL do what we can to increase VSF membership. And that we do it today.


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