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UPDATED: Dec. 16, 2014, at 7:26 a.m.
After years of fundraising efforts, the Harvard Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Club has established an endowment that will supplement grants from the Undergraduate Council and the Department of Athletics.
The endowment, which draws from the donations of more than 150 former team members, will help offset participation costs. Although representatives for the club declined to reveal dollar figures, they indicated that the endowment is large enough to waive all freshman membership fees for the fall season.
“The goal for the funds…is to spend them as deliberately and transparently as possible,” said Wynn O. Tucker '15, co-captain of the club's A team. “There’s been a lot of communication and deliberation about how to do this right.”
The fund will also subsidize the travel costs of the team. The organization’s A team has earned a spot in the College National Championships for ultimate frisbee seven times in the last decade, which has increased the group’s transportation costs.
“We’ve done fundraising in the past, but not to the same level of organization,” said current coach and former player Michael MacKenzie. “It gives the alumni network some structure.”
Over the past eight years, the club has mobilized alumni support each year by naming a “class captain,” who reached out to other members to solicit funds.
“It’s really a testament to the strength of this program, and the power of this program, that this was able to be pulled off,” Tucker said. “You look at the participants in the endowment, and you see the impact that the team has had on people.”
The group’s fundraising success contrasts with the monetary struggles that other club sports have faced in recent years. In particular, due to budgetary constraints, the most grant money a club can receive from the UC each semester decreased from $2,000 in 2012 to the current funding maximum of $1,400.
During their UC campaign this fall, UC President Ava Nasrollahzadeh ’16 and UC Vice President Dhruv P. Goyal ’16 urged the Council to solicit alumni donations to support student group funding.
“We would be interested in talking to [the Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Club] and discussing how they went about sourcing alumni donations and whether this could be a model for other club sports as well,” Nasrollahzadeh said. “While they do rely on UC funding, it’s great for them to look at other resources.”
However, the pair intends to continue funding club sports teams out of the Council’s existing budget.
“It’s very important to recognize that the smaller groups may not have an elaborate alumni pool to tap into,” Goyal said. “That’s where the Undergraduate Council comes in.”
Founded in 1975, the Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Club long relied on a combination of student dues, grants from the UC and the Athletics Department, and irregular alumni donations to support the program. The story changed in 2013, when then co-captain William P. Chen ’06 spearheaded an effort to establish a long-term fund.
“[Harvard Ultimate Frisbee] allowed me to compete in a sport I love and to meet some of my closest friends to this day,” Chen said. “This program has brought me so much happiness, so helping organize this endowment was a welcomed chance to give back.”
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