Monday, June 8, 2009

Dear Mary Alumnus

This week brought one more online request for money for a wrestling program. Norwich University announced the reinstatement of wrestling as a varsity sport, but it was added that they still need to raise $20,000 to meet this year’s financial obligation.

Last week I gave some basic tips on fund raising. This week I’ve written a sample letter from a fictional former wrestler at Smallville College to a hypothetical alumnus who has a history of giving to Smallville, but who has never donated to athletics. In this imaginary scenario the athletic director has just mandated that the team itself raise $100,000 a year or face future removal from the roster of varsity sports.

“Dear Mary Alumnus,

I’m a fellow Smallville College alum (Class of ’96). I loved my time there – the campus, the friends I made and the education I got will always be a part of me. Is Smallville as important to you as it is to me? It’s a great school, isn’t it?

Do you know what part of my Smallville experience I treasure the most? I wrestled. I spent four years on the varsity team and in my senior year I won a conference championship. I have never been prouder of any other accomplishment.

There are those who want to take that same opportunity away from future Smallville students. The athletic department has mandated that the wrestling team become more self-supporting or face elimination. The team must raise $100,000 a year or it will be dropped.

Mary, did the alarm just go off in your head? Did you just think, “Uh-oh, he’s about to ask me for money – for WRESTLING”? Mary, you’re one of our most generous alumni. You’re one of the elite few who help make a Smallville education a priceless investment in a young person’s future. But WRESTLING?!?! Why WRESTLING?

Wrestling taught me things that I never would have learned in any classroom – anywhere. Wrestling taught me to get off my back – literally and figuratively. I have faced adversity in my life since Smallville and the lessons I learned on the mat helped me fight on and overcome. The discipline I learned as a wrestler made me a better student. Today I own a small business and things I learned in the wrestling room contribute more to my success than anything I learned in Jones Hall.

Wrestling is the most democratic of sports. You don’t have to win some type of genetic lottery to be a champion. The competitor that works the hardest and learns the most almost always triumphs. A bi-lateral amputee- Nick Ackerman – won an NCAA Division III national championship. Wrestling embodies The American Dream – and there are those who want to take it away. Are you going to let them get away with it or will you join my fight?

I’m not the only one who believes in the value of wrestling. Nobel laureate, Dr. Norman Borlaug – the man who fed billions – credits wrestling with teaching him the discipline and tenacity he needed to continue his research. Thirteen American presidents have wrestled – from Washington to Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt. Congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle – Dennis Hastert, Jim Leach, Paul Wellstone - and others - wrestled. Wrestling has been a part of the educations of countless teachers, scientists, humanitarians, business leaders, military heroes – even Plato wrestled.

Won’t you join me in this fight? Won’t you help me perpetuate and strengthen this invaluable educational tool?

Your gift of $1,000 would cover travel expenses to our 2010 conference meet. A $200 check will buy meals for one wrestler for all of our road events this season. A $5,000 donation pays our insurance premium for the year. Please write your check today and return it in the enclosed reply envelope. You can use your credit card if you like.

Or - there’s an easier way for you to help - join the Smallville Mat Clan. It’s simple, go to and click on Join the Mat Clan. For a minimum pledge of $25 a month for the next 12 months I’ll send you a Smallville wrestling tee shirt and our quarterly newsletter. Why not join today?

Future generations of Smallville students thank you.


John Doe
Smallville College, 1996
BA Finance

Metrowebtech, Inc.

PS FYI – The football and basketball teams are not being asked to make the same sacrifices.”

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