SBJ/April 4-10, 2011/Olympics

USOC sells through initial hospitality inventory for London

Strong demand to attend the London Games has helped the U.S. Olympic Committee sell out of its initial allotment of hospitality packages and encouraged the organization to expand its hospitality inventory ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

For the first time at an Olympic Games, the USOC has developed a premier club hospitality package for donors that give more than $150,000 to the nonprofit organization. The package provides donors with VIP service throughout their time in London. The USOC schedules to pick donors up from the airport, offers hotel accommodations, arranges tickets to one to two competitions a day, provides access to the organization’s hospitality suite at USA House, and schedules dinners at London’s nicest restaurants.

The USOC requested 20 hotel rooms from its official hospitality partner, Jet Set Sports, and sold those out after receiving more than $3 million in donations. It recently requested an additional 20 rooms from Jet Set.

“We will continue to expand the inventory as much as people want to come and watch the Games with us,” said USOC Chief Development Officer Janine Musholt.

The program is the biggest hospitality endeavor the USOC has undertaken, and it is the cornerstone of a push by the organization to diversify its donor base. Last year, the organization received $10.5 million in donations, but only $2 million were the result of large gifts. The bulk of the money came from more than 800,000 people who contributed an average of $27 in response to a mail campaign.

The USOC has been working since 2008 to readjust the ratio of small and large donors. It hired Musholt to lead that effort. She previously oversaw the fundraising efforts of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, which has one of the most robust private donor bases among national governing bodies, largely as a result of the Champions Club, which provides opportunities for supporters to attend the Olympic Winter Games as VIP guests of the U.S. Ski Team.

Musholt hopes the Premier Club hospitality package provides a similar boost to the USOC’s donor base. To help promote it, the USOC has increased the number of private fundraising events it holds annually from zero in 2008 to six this year and created a USOC board of trustees to assist with fundraising. It expanded its development staff from nine to 14 employees, including its first director of planned giving.

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