The 1855 Club turns 9 years old!!!

That’s right the 1855 Club was created in May 2000.  I asked John Banta to share some of his early thoughts in creating the 1855 club:

I took on the role of House Corporation President back in 2000 along with Brian Lojko as Vice President and we knew right away that Eta Iota was facing a challenge with long-term capital improvement savings.  Rental income from the undergraduate chapter covered mortgage payments, RMF Insurance premiums and the increasing maintenance costs but not much more.  Past fund-raising initiatives of the chapter such as the Eta Iota Honor Wall demonstrated what we already knew – Eta Iota consists of very generous members who want to support the chapter but a vehicle was needed to facilitate the process.
The idea for the 1855 Club originated as we explored the various fund raising options for Eta Iota’s capital improvement reserves and I wanted a solution that would meet several key criteria:

Perpetual.  One of the frustrations I wanted to avoid with the 1855 Club was the fact that most formal fund raising campaigns consist of a massive drive to get one-time donations from their donors.  These are often tough checks to write and the sales cycle often starts all over again the following year with the next campaign.  I designed Eta Iota’s 1855 Club to consist of recurring transactions of smaller dollar amounts, making it as pain-free as possible to both the chapter and our brotherhood with payment options available as low as $9.27 per month – key to the 2nd objective:

Affordable for members.  Keeping the monthly donation amounts small but repeating allows more people to participate and join.  Think about it – who can’t spare $9 a month (the cost of less than 3 gallons of gas these days or maybe 3 drinks at Starbucks) for a cause they really believe in and want to support?  The amounts are hardly missed, but the fact that it is a recurring transaction each month gives the chapter the important benefit of growth potential over time and a consistent revenue stream.   Of course the member can pause or change their donations any time but the small amounts hopefully minimize the need to do so.

Low overhead.  With so many professional fund raising organizations out there wanting to design and manage a program for groups like Eta Iota, they may provide an easy option but the costs would be painful to the fraternity – some charge as much as 50% of all revenues received.  I wanted something where we would keep as much revenue as possible for the bottom line.  Costs had to be minimal and with the 1855 Club approach, this requirement was met quite successfully with negligible operating costs to cover mailings and recognition gifts for our donors.

Social factor.  One of my objectives with The 1855 Club was to make a membership within the chapter comprised of current donors that could attract future donors from within to enable to program to grow.  I set out to do this through creating the recognition gifts, mainly the 1855 Club coin which serves as an easy way to show off your membership and commitment to Eta Iota, as well as keeping the market-ability of the club simple and straight-forward.  It’s not a campaign with an end date, dollar goal or specific purchase objective.  It is a group of Winged Sigs demonstrating their continued financial support of the Eta Iota Chapter.
So after a few months of design work on the promotional materials, getting a page up on etaiota.org and making a few calls, The 1855 Club was launched in May of 2000 with 5 inaugural members.  Nine years later, I think the program has come a fair distance but is certainly capable of doing much more.  I am glad to see the current House Corporation Leadership renewing interest in the program with a push towards increased memberships and renewing those that have lapsed.

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One Response to “The 1855 Club turns 9 years old!!!”

  1. Seth Downs says:

    Of the 5 inaugural members, 3 have have been donating continuously every month for the past 9 years – Chris Edmondson, Brian Lojko and Rich Schooley.