Every year, the Wright State community comes together to raise money for Raiders and Lakers, future and present, through the Wright Day to Give. This online event encourages students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, retirees, and friends to Give Back to the Pack.
The Wright Day to Give has always been a help to the community, but over the past few years, the contributed funding has made an enormous impact on several of the university’s athletic programs.
In 2022, the university raised over $202,000 in one day, $52,000 by Wright State athletics alone. More than 300 people donated through the athletics campaign.
The athletics campaign was far and away the most funded of the nine campaigns. The second-highest-funded was the College of Engineering and Computer Science, with just under $9,000 in donations and roughly 30 donors.
The volleyball team raised approximately $21,800 on the Wright Day to Give. The baseball team raised $7,500, golf $5,600, men’s basketball $5,000, and women’s soccer $3,500.
The day of fundraising featured a variety of giving challenges, such as encouraging first-time donations and donation matching.
During the challenges, if 200 people donated, a lucky donor would receive two courtside seats to Wright State’s November 9 men’s basketball game against Davidson, along with a pregame meal and two Nike jackets.
Joylynn Brown, senior associate athletics director and senior woman administrator, said Wright Day to Give funds impact all athletic programs, and the volleyball team in particular.
The team began to ramp up its efforts about five years ago, using social media and challenges during the Wright Day to Give.
“People want to feel like they are part of something, so the more we make them feel like a part of the Raider volleyball family, the better,” Brown said. “This happens with positive, open communication and a welcoming environment.”
Brown said matching challenges during the Wright Day to Give helped. An anonymous donor pledged a $10,000 match, which assisted greatly with fundraising efforts.
Additionally, student-athletes reached out to family members and friends invested in the Wright State volleyball program. Brown said the team pushed the Wright Day to Give through email and social media, including an alumni group on Facebook.
“We wanted to win by raising more money than any other team. Our supporters jumped on the chance and exceeded the $10,000 challenge,” Brown said. “Division I athletics are very competitive, so it makes sense the people who support us are competitive, too.”
Past volleyball coaches communicated with alumni through a newsletter and Facebook group. Travers Green, who became head coach in April 2022, continued these efforts, ensuring that family and friends were involved in the fundraising process as effectively as possible.
Green said social media played a large role in raising funds during the Wright Day to Give. Anonymous donors offered thousands of dollars to athletics, which will go toward the Wright State athletics mission of transforming the lives of student-athletes by treating them as people first, students second, and athletes third.
Green said the fundraising efforts have enabled the volleyball team to operate at a championship level they may not have been able to otherwise reach. The funds raised through the Wright Day to Give allowed the team to attend championship games and enabled them to purchase Horizon League championship rings.
“With an increased cost to travel, we operate over what our budget allocates for team travel. Fundraising helps cover the difference when our operations go beyond the amount budgeted,” Green said. “We are grateful for what we have and want to represent this university to the best of our ability. We are very appreciative of the people who have supported our program over the years.”
Green said he asked student-athletes what they wanted to do with the money raised during the Wright Day to Give. He was able to help make a few immediate purchases, such as additional apparel and some athletic training equipment.
The volleyball team also used the money to enhance the student-athlete experience. Specifically, the funds went to a state-of-the-art video board and branding in McLin Gym. The branding, featuring sports-specific graphics in the lobby, outside of the gym, and in the locker room, was both an improvement for current student-athletes and a great way to market Wright State’s athletics programs, Green said.
The team was also able to hire a professional videographer to create content for the board as well as pay for extra gear, celebrations like the Senior Night dinner, and off-campus team-building events.
Both Brown and Green said they were incredibly proud of the volleyball team and the hard work they put into fundraising. Green said he was also impressed by the way the team was able to stretch its donations as far as possible to improve the student-athlete experience on a variety of fronts.
“Our team is full of bright, outgoing, and competitive young women,” Brown said. “They are strong academically and athletically. They are incredible ambassadors for the university and make others feel welcome. Wright Day to Give presents our department with the opportunity to highlight their successes, which leads to amazing support.”
Wright State’s golf team also greatly benefitted from Wright Day to Give.
Alongside the Wright Day to Give campaign, the golf team raised money through a golf fundraiser at the Heatherwoode Golf Club in Springboro. The fundraiser was heavily attended by family, friends, and alumni.
The golf team also hosts a college golf tournament in April, saving money in the travel budget as Wright State gets to play at home, head coach Connor Lash said. The team also sells 50/50 raffle tickets at home basketball games.
The golf team has raised money to fly on commercial flights to some tournaments, as well as to purchase a van. Lash said both were beneficial.
“Flying to tournaments is certainly a perk because it’s easier on your body and your brain. Everyone loves to be on a two-hour plane ride to Florida instead of a 12-hour van ride,” Lash said.
“The van we bought a few years back allows some of those longer trips to be more comfortable and allows more room in case the guys want to take a nap or get some schoolwork done,” Lash said. “The van has also helped on the recruiting side of things, because the majority of teams have a school van used for travel.”
Lash said he would like to focus future efforts on raising money for off-season golf activities. Playing golf outside all year in Ohio is difficult. To keep the team sharp over the winter, Lash would like to improve the team’s indoor hitting bays and build up an area big enough to have an indoor putting green.
“I believe this is something we can achieve,” Lash said.
Lash said he was proud to see the student-athletes involved with fundraising. He also said the family, faculty and staff, alumni, and friends who donated to the cause were inspiring.
“Those relationships can last longer than the four years the student-athletes are here,” Lash said. “They can last a lifetime.”
To give to the new Rowdy Raider Spirit Fund, which supports general athletics initiatives and the mascot, please visit givecampus.com/x4s6m2.
This article was originally published in the spring 2023 issue of the Wright State Magazine. Read more stories at wright.edu/magazine.