Elizabethtown College and Messiah College competed in the first-ever Battle of the Blues this year. The Battle of the Blues is a challenge in which recent alumni from each school compete to raise money for their respective alma mater. The fundraiser was initiated by the Annual Fund Committee of Messiah. This year, the results of the competition were revealed at the annual Marshmallow Trophy Game. The plan for the future is to announce the winner of the Battle of the Blues at this game.
The idea behind the Battle of the Blues is to motivate fundraising for the two schools’ alumni programs. The school with the highest percentage of donations from their youngest alumni classes is declared the winner of the competition. The Etown Blue Jays were named victorious in this first Battle of the Blues. The two schools featured ten alumni classes, those who graduated between 2002 and 2011. The schools decided to use young alumni classes because of their familiarity with social media. The annual fund committee thought it would be easier to reach out to these alumni using programs such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
The Battle of the Blues started with the College’s fiscal year on July 31 and continued until Oct. 31. This gave the alumni four months to donate as much as possible. It did not matter how much an alumnus or alumna donated; as long as he or she donated something, the school received credit.
Another way that the annual fund committee is able to raise money is through Phonathon. Phonathon is a branch of the College’s Development Office. The point of Phonathon is to raise money for the College by reaching out to alumni, parents of alumni, current students and other friends of the College. Current Etown students make calls because they are an accurate representation of the College now and are able to keep alumni up to date on what is occurring on campus such as new buildings, the new president, faculty and homecoming.
Junior Shannon Bono, Phonathon manager, said, “I cannot give you a number of how many alumni we contact because it is essentially every person that has ever graduated from the College that is still living, we attempt to contact at some point.”
According to junior and Etownian assistant copy editor Johanna Goslin, who works for Phonathon, “We do ask the alumni to donate money, but it is more important for the callers to build a good rapport with whoever we are calling. Even if they decline a request for a donation it is crucial that we are able to answer questions or relay any comments in order to keep a positive relationship and maintain the image of the College.”
Etown’s contribution rate for alumni was 7.85 percent of approximately 4,500 alumni. Messiah’s alumni contribution rate was only 7.72 percent. Maurice Rapp said, “With anything it is huge to win the first time, anytime you can win the inaugural trophy is really important.” The annual fund committee was able to get such a high percentage rate from alumni by doing such things as creating groups on Facebook, promoting videos on YouTube and updating their Twitter account. By doing this, the committee members were able to keep alumni updated on current standings so they could see how they were faring against their rivals from Messiah.
There are plans for the future that involve all of the alumni classes from both schools in the Battle of the Blues. Even though this seems like a good plan, there are some potential problems that could arise. Some of the most recent alumni classes will want to donate money online, whereas the older alumni classes may prefer to send money in through the mail. So if there is a way to find a medium between the two, hopefully Etown and Messiah will be able to raise more money and keep this competition going for many more years.
If future alumni want to get involved with the program once they graduate, a team captain will be chosen from each subsequent graduating class. This captain is usually someone who was involved while he or she was a student and also as a post-graduate. Things students can do once they graduate are check on the annual fund page or check out the Promote, Recruit, Involve, Donate and Employ (PRIDE) program on campus. The PRIDE program is run through the Office of Admissions, the Development Office, Alumni Relations and Career Services. The idea of the program is to have the alumni volunteer their time to remain involved in the Etown Community and to lend a hand wherever it might be needed.