San Francisco Elite Academy


Executive Summary

The San Francisco Elite Academy (SFEA) engaged Cogeo in early 2016 to address common challenges facing pay-to-play youth soccer organizations and opportunities facing the Academy’s development efforts. By the end of the engagement’s third year, Cogeo had assisted the Academy in instituting best-business practices in all aspects of development, ensuring the Academy was prepared for sustained success. Additionally, the partnership resulted in pledges and the raising of over $850,000 for financial aid, coaching education, facility access, and technology resources.


San Francisco Elite Academy, like most youth sports clubs, generally maintain financial support from current parents via membership dues but continue to face headwinds to meet the necessary budgetary requirements to entirely fulfill their mission and impact goals. Most notably, this model prices out socioeconomically disadvantaged, talented player candidates whose personal and player development would otherwise thrive if given access to organizational resources.  

The Academy, located in San Francisco, had the luxury of being in a slightly more mature development (fundraising) market than most. SFEA knew they had potential for additional revenue streams to support their growth goals, but had little knowledge or expertise regarding how to successfully navigate and execute a development program. As a result, SFEA hired Cogeo and began the process of establishing internal best-business development practices and a major-gifts program.


How Cogeo's Services Helped

Early into the engagement, it was clear that the Academy had found its perfect match. Time was being spent efficiently on development activities and positive output occurred. Cogeo focused the Academy to establish an annual case statement to clearly articulate the Academy’s history, array of programmatic areas and annual development needs. Link To SFEA Case Statement

Next, Cogeo implemented a CRM system strategy to not only capture current activity, but also ensure that all future activity will be organized in a strategic fashion for effective evaluation and readiness for scale.

Additionally, Cogeo initiated the beginning stages of the Academy’s major gifts program aimed to target relationships based on the unique opportunities associated with the Academy’s closest allies.

Furthermore, Cogeo implemented its corporate engagement strategies to cultivate donor relationships with qualifying corporations with aligned corporate interests to support the Academy mission.

Cogeo also identified foundation outreach as a prime opportunity to further diversify the Academy’s revenue streams of donation revenue. Given the multilateral stakeholder output benefits (athletic development, emotional development, and socioeconomic inclusion), the Academy was well positioned to be very attractive to funding from foundations.

The Academy had never run a donor-cultivation event prior to working with Cogeo. Cogeo implemented several cultivation events with key stakeholders close to the Academy, leveraging its event management capabilities, to plan and execute the Academy’s first series of informational and fundraising events.

Finally, the Academy faced two unique external requirements from a local governing body to address the makeup of the Academy’s board of directors and field access issues. Cogeo’s expertise aided the Academy to view and leverage these requirements as fundamental development (fundraising) opportunities instead of purely administrative.


Results and Return on Investment

The Academy’s investment with Cogeo paid off in a major way and has had significant impact on helping the Academy far exceed its annual development goals.

The case statement was a highly effective tool for the Academy in all of its development opportunities. It successfully communicated the depth of its programming and necessary levels of funding support.

Effective data management was the base from which all decision-making was made and integral to the Academy’s financial success. All development outreach was documented within various data management systems and resulted in a robust CRM structure. The Academy’s data management is now prepared for its future development endeavors well into the future.

All cultivation events managed by Cogeo’s event management services resulted in tremendous success. The events have established a strong precedent for their unique value-add qualities to the Academy’s overall development strategy for many years to come.

The Academy’s major gifts program, corporate engagement program and foundation outreach program all yielded outstanding financial success. Before working with Cogeo, the Academy had not raised any philanthropic dollars for its programmatic needs. By the end of the third year’s partnership with Cogeo, the Academy had raised pledges and donations totaling over $850,000. In 2018 alone, these resources assisted 65 families with financial aid, enabled 220 players, ages 6 to 11, access to free SFEA clinics, included participants from every city neighborhood, secured and maintained 7 USSF “A” licensed coaches and 4 USSF “B” licensed coaches, and ensured ample equipment was available to cover the needs of nearly 500 players.

patrick sampson