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WWU’s Give Day: Why it matters for club sports

How donations from alumni and parents fund Western's non-varsity sports

Students walk through Red Square at Western Washington University in Bellingham Wash. on a fall 2023 evening. A graphic in the dusk above reads “WWU Give Day 04.25.24.” // Graphic by Cameron Riggers

Western Washington University’s Give Day comes this Thursday.  It's a day for clubs, sports teams, and programs to ask their alumni, family and friends for donations. 

Nicholas Harvey is an Associate Director of Development at Western, overseeing the funds the school receives throughout the week of Give Day.

“It’s the biggest single day of the year for annual giving to WWU,” Harvey said. “This week can be crucial especially for athletics and clubs to raise the funds they may need to have a successful season in the coming year.”

Harvey helps hundreds of campus partners, including students, faculty and staff, get the proper Give Day promotional materials they need to secure funding. 

“I often see Give Day collaborators get out what they put in,” Harvey said. “If you don’t tell anyone about your Give Day page or share your link you can’t expect much support. However, if you are actively fundraising with the toolkit we provided, typically they can reach their fundraising goals.”

Unlike the Western athletics department, which receives mostly school-sponsored funding, recreational club sports are largely student-run and funded. Over 25 club sports teams at Western get involved with Give Day, and they rely on donors for support of their programs.

“Sports clubs are student-led, student-run and they are ‘pay to play’,” Assistant Director of Campus Recreation Caitlin Sommers said. “Students participating pay dues to be on teams and often also have to pay additional to offset [the] cost of clothing and travel expenses.”

Sommers said the largest Give Day gainers for club athletics are those that require flying for competitions, like the women's ultimate frisbee and the men’s ice hockey team, who are likely to have a larger annual operating budget. 

On last year's Give Day, the majority of clubs received between $50-$4,000 worth of donations on Give Day according to Sommers. Some clubs received more, with Men’s Rowing topping over $14,000.

Engagement on social media is what draws the most attention to clubs on Give Day, Sommers said. The clubs that do the best at promoting are often the clubs that receive the most amount of funding.

“Clubs that are actively engaged with alumni have more success on Give Day as alumni are most likely to donate,” Sommers said. “Some clubs put a lot of effort into spreading the word to their networks and see more success compared to those who don’t put a lot of effort into spreading the word.”

Western’s club baseball team is a beneficiary of Give Day. They compete in the National Club Baseball Association against larger funded universities. 

“It’s pricey [to play],” said assistant player-coach J.D. Parvankin. 

Parvankin helps oversee the yearly budget and said they deal with a plethora of grandiose expenses, such as facility costs, proper uniforms and team travel.

“Give Day is a big day for us every year,” Parvankin said. “It’s an opportunity for players to show how much it means to play to their loved ones and an opportunity for them to reciprocate.” 

Each player on the team has to pay over $400 in club dues for the season. The team has stated their goal is “around $8,000” for fundraising on Give Day, which equates to over half of their annual budget. 

Give Day donations are accepted through WWU Give Day 2024 and information about becoming a Give Day ambassador can be found at WWU Give Day 2024 | Sign Up.

Cameron Riggers

Cameron Riggers is a sports and recreation reporter for The Front. He writes about the Western Hockey League for and can often be found at a rink around the Pacific Northwest. You can follow his work on Twitter/X @cammriggs and on Instagram @cammriggs1 and can reach him at

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