Billikens Give Back Challenge Promotes Annual Alumni Giving


Graphic by Sam Glass. Photos Courtesy of Billiken Athletics and Jack Connaghan.

Billikens Give Back Challenge is underway! On Feb. 3, the annual Billikens Give Back Challenge started with a new set of lofty goals to engage Billiken Athletics alumni. The annual challenge is designed to increase alumni participation and as such set goals for the amount of donors instead of the dollar amount raised. The generous donations of Billiken alumni helps fund the teams with anything from new equipment, like balls, to new grass for the soccer fields.

   The challenge raised $25,000 last year and has raised almost $13,000 this year as of Wednesday, Feb. 19. Last year’s challenge consisted of a single donor goal for each sport to achieve, and the past success of teams like swimming and diving and women’s soccer led to individual teams having individual goals. Swimming and diving is currently in the lead with 96 donors out of their 100 donor goal. “That’s a testament to coach Haliburton and his relationship with his alumni,” said Director of Leadership Annual Giving John Edwards.

   Edwards is at the helm of the event helping coordinate different social media surges and engaging with alumni to promote a family environment. Edwards said what sets athletics apart from other SLU alumni engagement is the family atmosphere. One of the ways this is promoted is through social media takeovers. SLU volleyball took over the official athletics Instagram account and had alumni share their stories. Danielle Rygelski shared some words for volleyball alumni. Rygelski might be a familiar name to Billiken fans, a class of 2017 alumna, she holds the single season record for kills with 715. 

   Small things like this go a long way to help make alumni feel more connected to the place they spent four years growing and developing. Edwards said part of his job is to keep alumni connected to the program. Often times when a school reaches back out to people, they feel they are only asking for money. Though that is partly true, they are also asking to keep in touch with graduates. 

   The challenge will wrap up March 7. The Department of Athletics hopes to raise more than last year and with just over two weeks remaining, it certainly looks achievable. Swimming and diving and women’s soccer currently lead the pack in total donors. Both teams have a 100 donor goal and women’s soccer has 39 donors. Volleyball is 77 percent to their 50 donor goal and track and field is 35 percent to the 50 mark.

   The challenge is a great way to get alumni connected with the school but also with each other. Edwards uses Facebook groups to keep alumni updated on each other and SLU athletic events. This brings them together creates that family community. 

   The Billikens Give Back Challenge helps improve SLU sports while bringing alumni back into the fold. “Everybody here has been through 6 a.m. weights, the grind, the blood, sweat and tears,” said Edwards, “that speaks volumes on our alumni.”