Matt Kupec: Another Hallmark Moment

by Matt Kupec

January 1, 2020

I have had another Hallmark moment!

What, you might ask, is a Hallmark moment?

Well, I must confess that I have grown a fondness for Hallmark channel movies.  The channel which has the same sappy story line for every one of its movies – big city executive finds himself/herself in a very small community with an appealing charm that eventually will draw them away from the big city into the small town forever.

The charm of the small town is both the physical beauty of the town and the surroundings, and of the goodness of the people.

My first Hallmark moment came some forty years ago when I was introduced to Chapel Hill, NC when I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Known widely as the quintessential college town with a population under 50,000, Chapel Hill had an appeal that endured well beyond my undergraduate days. I returned to Chapel Hill to lead the UNC fundraising program for over twenty years

A year ago, I started with the Southern Illinois University Foundation in Carbondale, Illinois as the in-house fundraising consultant to lead the fundraising program.  SIU was just one year away from completing a $75 million fundraising campaign but with great success has now announced a campaign extension with a new $200 million goal.

For me, Carbondale has become my second Hallmark moment.

What is special about Carbondale?

Small Town.  Carbondale is a small town with a population of 25,902 residents.  It is located in the very southern part of Illinois, some 300 miles away from Chicago to the far north.  The downtown is small but charming.  Carbondale is a bustling community of unusual shops, diverse commerce, cultural activities, and many other luxuries that would be expected in a large city, yet it maintains the comforts and charm of a small town. The city is the most populous in Southern Illinois outside the St Louis Metro-East region.

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Matt Kupec: Working With Fundraising Campaign Volunteer Leaders

by Matt Kupec

October 30, 2019

It seems like every non-profit and educational institution is in the midst of a major fundraising campaign!  Campaigns are so frequently launched that it now feels like it is more the norm to be in a campaign than not to be in a campaign.

I have had the chance to lead four major fundraising campaigns:

  • “The Campaign for Hofstra University,” a $30 million effort that was Hofstra University’s first-ever comprehensive campaign.  That initiative raised $32 million in total.
  • “The Bicentennial Campaign” at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, a $320 million effort that was launched on the celebration of UNC’s 200th That campaign raised $440 million in total.
  • “The Carolina First Campaign,” a $1.8 billion campaign launched by UNC-Chapel Hill. This effort wound up totaling $2.38 billion in commitments, at the time the 5th largest campaign by a University in U.S. history.
  • “Forever SIU Campaign,” a $75 million effort launched by Southern Illinois University Carbondale. This effort is nearing the $90 million mark in commitments as the campaign marches on.

Having run four major fundraising campaigns, I know the important role that volunteer leadership can play in the subsequent success or failure of these important fundraising initiatives.  In this blog post, I share my thoughts about successfully working with volunteer leaders in a campaign:

Recruiting Volunteer Campaign Leaders.  Finding the right mix of individuals to serve as volunteer leaders of your campaign is one of the most important decisions an organization can make.  I’ve had the privilege of working with some giants like Hugh McColl, Billy Armfield, Paul Fulton, Charlie Shaffer, Mike Overlock, Barbara Hyde and Mary Ann Dickson in the two UNC campaigns.  SIU has a star in Dan Korte and if the campaign gets extended additional great leaders will join the SIU effort.

But what do you look for when recruiting campaign chair(s)?  Do you need just one chair?  Maybe co-chairs?  How about multiple chairs?  There are number of factors you should consider when recruiting volunteer leaders.  How passionate are the individuals about your organization?  Are they major donors?  If not, does that matter?  Are they connected?  Do other volunteers respect them?  What about the proper balance of your leadership group in terms of gender, race, and age?

These are all important questions to ask when recruiting leadership for the campaign.  Remember, you will be working very closely with these individuals for the duration of the campaign so it is important that you select the right people to lead your campaign.

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Matt Kupec: My Top Ten Favorite College Football Stadiums

by Matt Kupec

October 5, 2019

This past week I had the chance to visit Memorial Stadium on the University of Illinois campus for the first time.  The Fighting Illini are not a power in the Big 10 and have not competed in many games of importance over the years but I have enjoyed seeing the occasional highlight from an Illini game on football TV shows.

IllinoisWhen driving up to Memorial Stadium I was very impressive with the outside of the football stadium.  Columns on the outer walls made me think of the Los Angeles Coliseum which is home to the USC Trojans.  The inside of the stadium is somewhat of a different story with lots of concrete, field turf and a facility lacking in character.  I do believe with some minor renovations it could be a pretty cool place to play.  Ghosts of the late great Red Grange still run strong in the football environment.

Visiting Memorial Stadium made me think about the best football stadiums I have either been in as a player or a fan.  Here is my top #10 list and the rationale behind my rankings:

#1. UCLA (Rose Bowl Stadium – 90,888 seating capacity)

UclaI consider the Rose Bowl to be the best stadium in all of college football.  I have seen three games there including the 2005 Texas win over USC to capture the national championship and 2009 National Championship games in which Texas fell to Alabama.  I grew up loving to watch the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day when the major bowls still played their games on the same day to start the new year.  I love the beautiful grass, the hills in the background, the circular stadium and history of the place.

#2.  Notre Dame (Notre Dame Stadium – 77,662 seating capacity)

Notre DameI grew up watching Notre Dame highlights on Sunday with Lindsay Nelson and Paul Horning providing commentary.  Watching ND legends like Terry Hanratty, Jim Seymour and so many others filled my childhood dreams of being a football player.  The gold helmets.  The plain uniforms.  No colors in the end zone but diagonal white stripes.  And real and beautiful grass.  The echo’s of Knute Rockne and Touchdown Jesus outside.  A majestic place that, unfortunately, has been tainted by the installation of field tur.  It is painful to watch ND on television these days.  Shameful!

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About the Author

Matt Kupec is a fundraising professional with 32 years of significant higher education development experience. He has directed three major university fundraising campaigns and nearly $5 billion has been raised under his leadership. He has led the fundraising programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hofstra University, Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and HelpMeSee, a New York City based non-profit. He is currently serving as Senior In-House Fundraising Counsel for Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

Matt is a former record-breaking four year starting quarterback for the UNC Tar Heels. During his career he set 19 season and career passing records. Two of which still stand — most consecutive games with a TD pass and most wins as a starting QB. Matt also set the ACC record for TD passes his senior year at UNC. Matt was named MVP of the 1977 Liberty Bowl and the 1979 Gator Bowl becoming the 1st player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to be named MVP of two bowl games.

Matt Kupec: ESPN “Game Day” Host Site Surprises

by Matt Kupec

September 10, 2019

ESPN’s College Football Game Day is one of the great television programs!  Last year, “Game Day” celebrated its 25th year anniversary of hosting a college football pre-game show on the college campus featuring one of the top college games of the week.  I wrote a blog to commemorate ESPN’s 25 years of “Game Day.”

“Game Day” has become a staple of the college football weekend!

This past weekend, “Game Day” was in Austin, TX to host the LSU vs. Texas battle featuring two top ten teams.  What I found amazing was that Austin, TX and the mighty Longhorns has not been host to “Game Day,” since 2009.  A ten-year drought!!  The last time Texas hosted “Game Day” was when my good friend Mack Brown was in his hey day as the Texas coach and Colt McCoy was playing his senior season of what was a remarkable career.

Since I was so shocked by the 10-year drought of Texas as “Game Day” host, I thought I’d take another look back at the “Game Day” host sites and give you some interesting tidbits:

  • Surprising Absence from Last Hosting “Game Day”

Texas’ ten-year ESPN “Game Day” drought was shocking.  Other droughts from successful programs include:

  • Florida (October 20, 2012)
  • Oklahoma (October 27, 2012)
  • Nebraska (September 10, 2007)

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Matt Kupec: Does a Mid-Major NCAA Final Four Run Turn into Fundraising Success

by Matt Kupec

March 16, 2019

It is the time of the year – March Madness – when the NCAA Men’s Tournament takes over the sports scene and dominates our time and attention with a dazzling display of collegiate basketball games with the focus on getting to the NCAA Final Four.

Last week I had the privilege of attending my first Missouri Valley Conference basketball tournament.  The MVC is one of the “mid-major” conferences, not quite considered at the level of the Power 5 Conferences (ACC, SEC, Pac-10, Big 12, and Big Ten.),  but conferences that play outstanding basketball.   Often a “cinderella” team emerges from one of the mid-major conferences and earns a trip to the Final Four.

Last year, Loyola of Chicago had the magical ride to the Final Four.  Other mid-major teams that have gone to the Final Four in the last fifteen years include Butler (2010, 2011), Virginia Commonwealth University (2011), Wichita State (2013 as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference), Memphis (2008) and George Mason (2006).

It is widely believed that NCAA Basketball Success and a trip to the Final Four leads to significant increases in enrollment, fundraising and new national branding opportunities as the national media brings unprecedented marketing and publicity opportunities for these mid-major schools.

In this blog post I have researched whether these schools did experience significant fundraising success after a Final Four run.  There are some good studies that have concluded to differing degrees what this March Madness success had done for these major schools in terms of enrollment and merchandising but I am looking solely at the fundraising performance……….

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Matt Kupec: Giving Trends in Higher Education

by Matt Kupec

November 21, 2018

Fundraising at colleges and universities has become a very important source of revenue.   As University leaders face increased pressure on enrollments, new program initiatives, escalating personnel and program costs, and infrastructure needs for building renovations and upgrades, philanthropic support is taking on added responsibility for helping these organizations meet their ambitious agendas..

Colleges are making more investments in their fundraising operations as they look to dramatically increase their level of private giving support.  As such, we are seeing unprecedented growth in fundraising

Every year, the Council for Aid to Education releases the fundraising numbers for all institutions of higher learning.  For 2017, 3,700 institutions responded to the study.  Here we take a look at some of the results of the study:

  • Overall Trends in Higher Education Fundraising. Here are some of the trends of higher education fundraising:
    • Giving to America’s colleges rose 6 percent in 2017, lifted by a surge in giving by alumni.
    • Higher education as a sector raised $43.6 billion, the largest amount ever counted by the CAE survey since it began in 1957.
    • Colleges’ fundraising performed better than that for all nonprofits over all. The most recent “Giving USA,” which covered 2016, saw only a 1.4 percent increase in private support.
    • In 2016, giving by alumni was down by nearly 9 percent and by 6 percent among other individuals.
    • The Top 20 Universities in fundraising raised nearly $12.2 billion, or 28%, of the $43.6 billion total (see more below).
  • Top 20 Colleges in Giving. Listed below are the top 20 universities in terms of the overall dollars raised.  There are no surprises here as these colleges consistently rank as the top funding institutions on an annual basis.  The Ivy League placed six schools in the top ten.  The University of Washington at #12 is the highest fundraising public university……..

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