With the annual Iron Skillet game on Friday , Southern Methodist University is seeking more than a victory on the football field.
The SMU Second Century Campaign’s “Fry the Frogs” fundraising effort is striving to obtain 1,000 young alumni donations by September 23, the day before the Mustangs and Horned Frogs meet at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.
Andrew Snow, director of alumni relations at SMU, said that despite the fundraiser’s name, the effort is not intended to be a direct competition between the rival schools.
Rather, SMU is seeking an increase in support from young alumni, or undergraduates who have graduated within the past 10 years. The 1,000 donations the school is seeking can be to any area of the university, Snow said.
To increase interest in donating, he said the school’s young alumni board chose to relate the fundraiser to the skillet game, since it marks an exciting time on the SMU campus.
“Our board is focused on helping our young alumni giving rate go up,” Snow said. “They’re always looking for some creative ways to get the attention of young alums to help sell that giving message.”
Snow also said some of that excitement comes from the potential of winning the skillet game.
“For us at SMU, the TCU game is one of our biggest rivalries,” he said. “It always kind of gives people a lot of excitement and inspires people to want to beat TCU. We wanted to capitalize on that by having a giving challenge.”
The “Fry the Frogs” website features a cluster of 100 small skillets, each representing 10 young alumni givers. When scrolling across the smaller skillets, larger skillets, each with a frog inside, appear, giving the illusion of a frog frying.
SMU also created a YouTube video titled, “1,000, which features prominent campus figures such as SMU President R. Gerard Turner, Football Head Coach June Jones, Athletic Director Steve Orsini and a series of professors and trustees. In the video, each figure shows his or her pony ears and says “1,000.”
As of Monday, 39 frogs had been fried, which equals 390 young alumni givers, according to the SMU Second Century Campaign website.
Snow said 1,000 donations would represent one-third of the young alumni donors for this fiscal year.
That means SMU would have to push for 610 additional donors in the next two days, but Snow said he was confident that alumni would come through.
“We have a lot of young alumni volunteers who are helping with (Fry the Frogs),” he said. “Our alums respond very well to peers, so when one alum is reaching out to another alum with ideas on how to support SMU, they seem to be very responsive to that.”
Chris Del Conte, TCU athletic director, said he had no comment on SMU’s approach to draw fan support or the fundraiser’s title. He said the game provides positive exposure for TCU, SMU and football in Texas, since the game will be featured on Friday night on ESPN.
Mark Mourer, assistant dean for development for the college of communication, said he has not heard if the university has formed a response to “Fry the Frogs.”
He said he has noticed that frog fans have demonstrated their support for athletics in other ways, Mourer said.
“Having the second largest crowd in the history of Amon G. Carter Stadium last weekend was a pretty reasonable catalyst,” he said.
Mourer said “Fry the Frogs” is a clever fundraising concept for the rivalry game, even if it appears that SMU is making it a competition.
“What they’ve done to engender excitement among their fans has been as good as they can do given the limited success they had before last year,” Mourer said.