Tuesday, August 9, 2011

USOC: Never enough

New fundraising group nets $5.4 million for USOC

2011-04-11 18:17:49

The U.S. Olympic Committee has $5.4 million in commitments from a fundraising group that formed last year, with hopes of reaching the $6 million mark in the next nine months as the Colorado Springs-based organization tries to secure previously untapped revenue.

Eighteen members of the U.S. Olympic Foundation board of trustees, including El Pomar Foundation chief executive officer Bill Hybl, have pledged $300,000 apiece, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun announced Monday during a Colorado Springs Sports Corp. luncheon at the Antlers Hilton featuring five-time Olympic gold medalist speedskater Bonnie Blair.

Ten trustees were signed up at the end of 2010, and eight have joined this year – the goals set by the USOC are 20 by 2012 and as many as 50 in the future. Their donations may be made up front or over four years at $75,000 per year. Either way, it’s new money for the USOC, which had $10.5 million in 2010 donations but just $2 million through large gifts.

Proceeds from the effort that’s being directed by USOC chief development officer Janine Alfano Musholt go toward the Springs-based U.S. Olympic Foundation, established with a $111 million endowment from the USOC’s surplus from the 1984 Los Angeles Games. The foundation awarded the USOC with a $9.7 million grant last year and an $8.9 million grant in January, bringing its contribution total to $253.5 million since 1986.

About 40 percent of the USOC’s revenue comes via 26 sponsors, like Nike, which struck a renewal Monday with the USOC through 2016, and about 40 percent comes via a soon-to-expire partnership with NBC to broadcast the Olympics – the other 20 percent is culled through fundraising. Direct mail solicitations usually haven’t been major cash-producers for the USOC, especially in non-Olympic years, and government funding represents only 4.3 percent of the USOC’s revenue, all of which goes to Paralympic military programs.

Yet the USOC’s expenses are colossal – in 2009, it shelled out $60.8 million on athletes and Olympic national governing bodies; $35.5 million on employees’ salaries; and $20.8 million on training complexes, most notably the one in the Springs. Plus, the USOC is a regular giver – it’s cutting a $125,000 check Tuesday to support the city’s parks programs.

If not for the donations from the trustees, “we wouldn’t be able to provide the same level of support,” Blackmun said, noting the USOC has “so many people out there who support us, and what we’ve really begun to focus on is the people who have the means to help us in a bigger way. We want to make sure we connect them with the stories of our athletes.”

Blair told more than 420 people about the benefit of the Olympic Training Center, where she routinely visited for camps before her 1995 retirement, and Blackmun vowed that $16 million in improvements through a $42.3 million commitment from the city will turn the OTC visitors center into a “multimedia experience” that’s also a “point of destination.”

“Seeing the changes that have happened are phenomenal,” Blair said. “Not only structural but also things they do for the athletes, whether it’s sports medicine, sports psychology, computers. All those little things make it that much nicer for the athlete to take stressors off, be able to train at a high level, yet try to be the best that they can be.”

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