"Doing the Dishes"
Nearly $4 million raised for Sigma Nu Georgia Tech fraternity house renovation; triples annual fund
Sigma Nu alumni volunteer Gary Jones watched as other fraternities at Georgia Tech rebuilt and remodeled their houses all around campus. Major renovation projects were being funded by alumni fundraising campaigns, and Gary knew that Sigma Nu’s Gamma Alpha chapter undergraduate fraternity house renovation would require a sizable investment.
Gary didn’t go with an initial ask or capital campaign; instead, he started “doing the dishes,” a phrase he uses to describe the ongoing frequent, consistent and meaningful annual communications program that was used to create a culture of giving.
Gary Jones, the Alumni Board President for the Gamma Alpha chapter of Sigma Nu at Georgia Tech, had big plans for his fraternity house. However, that dream of renovating and remodeling this historical house on campus came with a multi-million dollar price tag.
Instead of just asking for a donation, alumni received frequent communications about their Gamma Alpha chapter at Georgia Tech and gradually more and more members got into the habit of supporting the organization annually. Gary also makes a point to celebrate everyone’s gifts with a personalized “thank you” message.
Before kicking off the capital campaign that the fraternity ultimately needed, Sigma Nu at Georgia Tech spent several years laying the groundwork for annual giving. Consistent, frequent and meaningful communications established a solid foundation, and enabled the fraternity to grow its annual giving from $11,000 to nearly $20,000. The type of work Gary referred to as "doing the dishes" was not glamorous — managing a robust website, database management, monthly email marketing, printed newsletter and annual appeal letters — but necessary to cultivate a strong, committed community of givers.
When our fraternity alumni started a major house renovation project at Georgia Tech, thanks to a consistent annual giving program, we raised nearly $4 million from our alumni who felt a strong emotional connection to our group.
Alumni Board President
Gamma Alpha of Sigma Nu at Georgia Tech
Donor participation increased by 50 percent and the annual fund tripled after just a three-year commitment to this communication program. Gary laid the foundation for a successful $4 million campaign named “Building the Future Today” that helped Sigma Nu Georgia Tech build a house for future generations of outstanding young men.
The foundation's fundraising campaign held two meanings: first, campaign funds were needed to rebuild the fraternity house; second, the fraternity was in place to be "builders of men" and alumni support was targeted to build the character of the undergraduate members.