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Athletic Development Reaches New Fundraising Benchmarks

Bolstered by numerous standout performances from North Florida student-athletes and teams in competitions and the classroom, the UNF Athletic Development staff combined those accomplishments with a focused donor development plan, producing record-setting numbers in all aspects of fundraising despite challenges created by the global pandemic.

In fiscal year 2021, North Florida Athletics established an all-time record for fundraising with $3,050,572 raised, a 245% increase from FY18. The record total was generated by a group of 1,441 athletic donors, a 55% increase from last fiscal year. Annual fundraising numbers include cash gifts and pledges. Cash and pledges go towards student-athlete scholarships, capital projects, endowments, restricted funds and other initiatives. 

“I am so thankful for the 1,441 donors who have made an incredible impact on UNF Athletics and the student-athlete experience.  Over the past year, donors have truly affected the student-athlete experience through their generosity.  The support has created tremendous momentum in fundraising and it was a great feeling to witness the historical record-setting year.” Athletic Director Nick Morrow

One of the shining moments in the record-breaking year came on UNF's Giving Day, when North Florida Athletics generated a record total of $203,584.33, which marked a 300 percent increase over Giving Day 2020. Adding to the excitement for Athletics during the Giving Day program was the 175-percent increase in total donors over the previous year, with a new record 847 donors contributing to the benchmark shattering total.

Athletic Development also enjoyed a banner fundraising performance for the annual Blue & Gray Bash and Auction. This year's event raised an all-time record $54,370 total, a 30-percent increase over 2020. A record 646 participants (175-percent increase) were involved in the in-person and online event.

A new fundraising event, 904 Day, made its debut in 2021 with an emphasis on a day of raising funds for a specific need. Final numbers included $16,230 raised via 220 generous donors. Monies raised allowed the department to purchase 18 new laptops, enhancing the ability for UNF's over 300 student-athletes to continue their strong academic performances during a period of increased emphasis on virtual learning. 

“I want to thank our entire staff for contributing to the fundraising success.  Our coaches placed a greater emphasis on fundraising this year and the entire department recognizes the importance of philanthropic support.  I’d specifically like to thank Josh Baker and Jeff Dennis for their efforts throughout the year, especially during a pandemic that limited many engagement opportunities.  The future is bright for UNF Athletics and I am excited to continue to grow the Osprey Club and the support for our 300 student-athletes.” Athletic Director Nick Morrow

Another annual event establishing a revenue record in 2021 was the UNF Fore Scholarships Golf Classic. The sold-out event generated nearly $100,000 with proceeds supporting UNF First Generation Scholarships and Athletic Scholarships.

The fundraising efforts created department-wide benefits that impacted student-athletes as a whole, highlighted by improvements to facilities, scholarship opportunities and resources for student-athletes, coaches and more. 

A new sprinter van with leather seating and branded interior was added for UNF golf programs, while new umpire chairs and benches with the Osprey bird head were included at the UNF Tennis Complex. Staying outside, the UNF Softball Complex continued to see improvements when new padded outfield walls were added. Just feet away, hitting machines, screens and new data collection tools were added for the baseball program. LED lighting at the batting facility was also added. 

Fundraising has also enabled the development of new hospitality in the UNF Arena with the creation of the Bank of England Hospitality Suite. In addition to facility upgrades, student-athletes also benefit from over $250,000 of money raised for scholarships.

In addition to fundraising, North Florida Athletics secured a grant from the City of Jacksonville to resurface the track at Hodges Stadium. This surface upgrade makes the new Visit Jax Track one of the premier track surfaces in the country allowing UNF to pursue and acquire hosting contracts for national and international track events.

A final area of record setting financial growth came in sponsorship revenue as North Florida produced $585,993 through community and business partnerships.

“I am so appreciative of the community partnerships we have been able to establish and grow in Jacksonville. Our partners’ continued commitment to UNF Athletics, even during a pandemic, has allowed us to provide opportunities and value to our student-athletes, university community and fans.” Athletic Director Nick Morrow