New Irwin Club improvements to attract donors with added incentives

GVL / Emily Frye
Grand Valley State University vs Davenport University on Saturday September 9, 2017.

GVL / Emily Frye Grand Valley State University vs Davenport University on Saturday September 9, 2017.

Kellen Voss

While some may be opposed to it, change can often be a good thing since it frequently revolves around improvement.

That is indeed the case with the Irwin Club at Grand Valley State, whose drastic changes this past year include increased donor benefits and higher-quality benefits as well. These improvements should not only keep the current donors coming for more but should attract many new donors as well, helping both the university and the athletes.

According to its mission statement, the Irwin Club’s purpose is “to generate philanthropic support necessary to put each of Grand Valley State’s 20 varsity sports in a position to succeed academically and athletically.” The Irwin Club has been striving to live out this purpose for more than 20 years now, providing GVSU and its athletes the necessary funding to succeed.

Donors of $100 or more are automatically members of the club and get all the benefits that come with membership.

“Our athletic fundraising provides the unique opportunity to provide benefits to its donors,” said GVSU Athletics Director Keri Becker. “We want our donors to keep donating while also giving them benefits, so this process is both transactional and transferable, and Athletics has the unique ability to do that.”

What separates the Irwin Club from many other university booster clubs around the country is the sheer amount of benefits donors receive in these new improvements. In the past, donors only had access to three levels of benefits. Those benefits included being sent a GVSU sports newsletter, an exclusive parking pass for football games and an invite to the big donor golf outing.

With the new club improvements, though, donors can expect a lot more for their gracious monetary gifts.

“We have done a lot of research, and now, instead of three levels of benefits, we have eight levels of benefits and 24 benefits based on levels of donation,” Becker said. “It’s a more robust benefit structure.”

Donors can now expect to get many benefits from the university, including, but not limited to, invitations to the new Irwin auction event, personalized sideline passes to football games and reduced greens fees at The Meadows golf course on GVSU’s Allendale Campus.

These donors obviously want to see today’s student athletes succeed, and Becker believes these new improvements to the Irwin Club can help facilitate that.

“The great thing about our donors is that most donors gave because they want to see our athletes succeed academically, athletically and socially,” Becker said. “What (these changes) do is give us a better way to engage with these people and say ‘thank you’ to these donors.”

The improvements to the Irwin Club can allow the Athletics staff and administration to get in better touch with these donors, with more invitations to more events creating a tight community at a big school.

“My favorite part of these changes is the number of times we can have face-to-face interactions with our donors and give them the most,” Becker said. “We need to know who these people are, and we need to be able to thank them and welcome them appropriately when they come back.”

There are indeed a lot more opportunities for these donors to have face-to-face interactions, including with invitations to Irwin Club tailgates, basketball receptions and even Hall-of-Fame dinner tickets.

While there have been many changes to the benefits of the Irwin Club, the goals of it still remain the same.

“What we want is the most continued commitment to our athletes, and it’s the same purpose, just a different structure,” Becker said. “We have the same goals in mind, and this is just a whole new experience.”

The improvements to the Irwin Club may not only attract new donors but may also help those currently donating feel a sense of community and belonging at the club. These new opportunities for donor interaction may be considered crucial because, as Becker says, “understanding is only a conversation away.”

For more information on the club and how to get involved, visit