Dear Friends of Dartmouth Rowing,
Dartmouth Crew is back! Our boathouse sent a message this spring: Our varsity heavyweight eight became the first #12 seed in Eastern Sprints history to beat a #1 seed in the heat, eventually placing fifth in the grand final and eighth at the IRA. Our women’s varsity nearly nipped Brown to break into the medals at Sprints. And our lightweight squad ended its season sixth at the IRA after a strong fourth-place showing at Sprints. We’re not on top, but we are a force.
Keeping our momentum, though, requires your support. I hope you will take time to review the enclosed financial report prepared by our treasurer, David Plekenpol, so you can understand how important the Friends are to the rowing program. The enclosed report focuses only on expenses funded by the Friends; the College, quite properly, funds a majority of program expenses including coaches’ salaries, facilities upkeep, recruiting expenses, and more. But while the College covers the program’s basic needs, your support is necessary so that our crews can excel.
While the Friends account shows solid gains for the last three fiscal years, we are presently heavily dependent upon a few generous and large givers, with gifts from just three individuals accounting for more than 40% of total alumni donations in each of the past three years. Further, as you can see, the program relies on sizable contributions from our athletes to cover their own training trips.
We discuss program finances at each of the annual spring meeting (usually held in March in New York City) and annual fall meeting (held in conjunction with the Gardner Cup; September 24, this year). I encourage you to attend these meetings if you can.
What the numbers don’t explain, though, is the tangible, day-to-day difference that your support makes – and how it makes our crews faster. If we cannot fully fund our operating budget each year, we are forced to cut back on our training trips or our equipment. Eliminating the winter or spring trip for any of our squads would put them at a major disadvantage to our rivals. And already, in recent years, our coaches have had to leave some promising rowers behind, hurting each squad’s depth.
Training also suffers if we can’t competitively equip our crews. Rowing an older shell doesn’t just mean that we lose a few seconds on the course on race day. It means that our rowers spend more time wrestling with broken foot stretchers and oarlocks and less time moving boats during practice. Workouts are interrupted and our coaches are distracted from, well, coaching. Cutting practice short and missing out on one more chance to practice a sprint is not a formula for winning Eastern Sprints.
So please join me in giving today’s Dartmouth rowers the tools and support that will allow them to rise to the very top of the league. In the past few years, a reinvigorated Friends organization has done much to increase program support. Our spectacular, revamped website (www.DartmouthRowing.org) will keep you up to date throughout the season. (Thank you, Alex Stein and Melissa Moody.) Attendance is up at our spring and fall meetings. Our new class captains program is growing, improving communications with our alums. (Thank you, Judy Geer and Liam Krehbiel.) A growing mentoring program is connecting rowers with alums. (Thank you, Colin Simonds.) And giving has been strong in recent years despite the dismal worldwide economy. (Thank you, dear readers. And thank you to the parents who organized the past year’s matching challenge.)
Let’s keep it going. We know you have a lot of demands on your philanthropy, but please make Friends of Dartmouth Rowing a priority. Please take time right now to make a contribution to the Friends of Dartmouth Rowing for the coming season (and the College’s 2011 fiscal year) by returning a check in the enclosed envelope or contributing through the College’s website (www.dartmouth.edu, following links for alumni giving) and designating your gift as for the “Friends of Rowing” account. (The “Contribute” button on www.DartmouthRowing.org will direct you to the College’s site.)
Finally, I urge you to join us at the third annual Gardner Cup in Hanover on Saturday, September 25, 2010. I hope to see you there!
Thank you for all that you do for Dartmouth Crew!
P.S. We have launched a new recognition program to thank those who have given significantly to the program over the past five years, as well as those who have shown consistent support to the rowing program. Please take a moment to review the enclosed lists of Seymour and Gardner Fellows, and consider whether your participation in either category might be just the magical ingredient that pushes our squads into medal contention!