The Georgia Southern Athletics Department announced Tuesday that it is launching a campaign — “Soar for Six,” — with the department seeking to increase membership in the Erk Russell Fund, the main fundraising arm of the Athletic Foundation, to 6,000 members.
Reaching this goal of 6,000 members, the Erk Russell Fund would have the largest membership of any fundraising organization in the Sun Belt Conference. The membership at Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina led the conference with just over 3,000 members during the previous academic year.
The impetus behind “Soar to Six” is to raise the financial resources needed to provide Georgia Southern student-athletes with the opportunities to continue their success in the classroom, on the field of play and after graduation. The department’s grade point average for 2019-20 was its highest ever, and the nearly 400 Georgia Southern student-athletes performed more community service hours during the past two academic years than ever before.
Yet the cost of maintaining that success continues to rise. The primary role of the Erk Russell Fund is to provide opportunities for student-athletes through raising money for scholarships, but tuition, fees and cost of attendance increases continue to climb. The department projects the scholarship bill for 2021-22 to be around $6.2 million, while the Athletic Foundation raised over $2.1 million through the Erk Russell Fund last year.
The athletics department wants to see the initiative bring the number of athletics donors to the top of the Sun Belt Conference. The amount of money raised for athletics scholarships raised in Fiscal Year 19 ranks fifth among league schools but is over $7 million less than the top school in the Sun Belt.
Department officials have launched the Soar to Six to encourage current members to continue or increase their financial support and to invite more fans and alums to help with the investment in student-athletes’ future successes.
There’s a direct correlation between success on the field and generosity from donors. There are three things you can do to help support the Eagles:
- Purchase season tickets to help create the best home field advantage in the conference;
- Join the Erk Russell Fund at Give.GSEagles.com; and
- Get others to join
Those who join the Erk Russell Fund, and anyone who is currently a member, can submit a picture of themselves to AthleticFoundation@GeorgiaSouthern.edu to receive a special, personalized digital Erk Russell Fund image to share on their social media platforms.