SBJ/September 24-30, 2012/Olympics

USOC looks to double its Olympic-year fundraising by 2016, Blackmun tells Assembly

In an effort to increase revenue over the next four years, the U.S. Olympic Committee is hoping to double its Olympic-year fundraising haul.

USOC Chief Executive Officer Scott Blackmun told Olympic constituents gathered at last week’s U.S. Olympic Assembly that fundraising is the area where the organization has the most room for improvement. It increased its fundraising from $28.9 million during the 2005-08 quadrennium to $50.7 million during the 2009-12 quadrennium. He has set a goal of increasing fundraising to $50 million in 2016, more than doubling the $17 million the organization raised this year and bringing its fundraising total to more than $75 million.

Team USA’s performance in both Vancouver and London has Blackmun hopeful that the USOC can grow fundraising revenue from $17 million this year to $50 million in 2016.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
“That’s a huge jump for us,” Blackmun said. “The only way to raise that money is to ramp up the program, and that will take time.”

The USOC increased its total revenue from $537.5 million during the 2005-08 quadrennium to $547.5 million during the 2009-12 quadrennium. The increase was driven by a jump in TV revenue, which rose from $200 million to $250 million during that period. The USOC’s share of international sponsorship was flat and its domestic sponsorship was slightly down because of the recession that affected most of the 2009-12 period, Blackmun said.

TV revenue over the next quadrennium (2013-16) is expected to be flat, and the USOC has a healthy portfolio of domestic sponsors. That leaves little room for major revenue increases in either of those areas. That’s a major reason why Blackmun is focused on increasing the organization’s fundraising haul.

“We have an opportunity there to do more,” Blackmun said.

During his speech at last week’s assembly, Blackmun said the USOC increased its direct support to athletes and national governing bodies by 17 percent from $211.8 million in 2005-08 to $247 million in 2009-12. The increase was greater than the total increase in revenue during the period because the USOC limited its administrative expenses. He said it will look to continue to do that in the future.

Much of Blackmun’s focus in the coming year will be on the USOC’s effort to put together a bid for the 2024 or 2026 Olympics. The USOC recently formed a committee of five board members who are charged with evaluating whether the organization should bid on a Summer or Winter Olympics.

Bringing the Olympics back to the U.S. is another way to generate more revenue for the USOC. Domestic Olympics historically help the organization develop new sponsors that often stick with it for a decade or more. That was the case with sponsors such as Home Depot, which signed on to support the 1996 Atlanta Games and remained a USOC sponsor for the next decade.

In addition to discussing the USOC’s future Olympic bid, Blackmun spoke at length about how Team USA’s performance affects the organization’s bottom line. He highlighted Team USA’s success in London, where it won the overall medal count. The organization previously won the medal count in Vancouver, and Blackmun believes sustaining that performance success in the future is important to the organization’s long-term health.

“When people are interested in what’s going on in the Olympic Games, it’s easier for us to generate revenue,” he said. “Part of the reason for the revenue success we’ve been having is our team is doing well. That’s part of the reason people are watching, and that drives higher [TV] rights fees and interest from sponsors.”

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