Pride-a-palooza

UND Pride of the North completes new-uniform drive in grand style

Pride of the North Band

UND’s Pride of the North marching band performs along University Avenue on campus during the 2016 Homecoming Day parade. Photo by Shawna Schill.

UND Football players aren’t the only ones who need stitches after a big game.

The unsung heroes that keep UND’s Pride of the North marching band moving forward every season employ seamstresses of a different kind.

“When we do our annual uniform turn-ins, we collect the ones that are in bad shape and take them to seamstresses for holes, missing buttons and broken zippers,” said Rob Brooks, Pride of the North director. “Every year, the pile gets bigger because these uniforms are 18 years old now.”

But next year will be a different story. The UND Alumni Association & Foundation recently expanded their fundraising toolbox to include crowdfunding, a new and innovative way to fundraise by using the power of peer-to-peer relationships and social media.
The campaign, titled Pride-a-Palooza, surpassed its goal of $88,000 on Monday. The Pride of the North uniform drive was the first crowdfunding project that the Alumni Association & Foundation took on.

The problems with the Pride’s current uniforms went beyond wear and tear. Today, new materials are available to keep the band cool, and branding is an issue too. UND is retiring the “interlocking ND” logo, which is currently on the chest of every Pride of the North band member.

Special connection

More than 230 alumni, friends and loved ones of the Pride gave gifts ranging from $7 to $10,000 to make it all happen, according to the Alumni Association & Foundation.

“It is truly humbling to all of us with the Pride to see and experience this kind of overwhelming support and humbling exuberance for what these wonderful students do and contribute to UND, Grand Forks and North Dakota,” said Rob Brooks, Director, Pride of the North.

The largest gift came from the Bob and Sally Clayburgh Family Foundation, which has a special connection to the band. In 1998, Ben Clayburgh, Bob’s father, was instrumental in helping the band purchase its current uniforms. Now, 18 years later, the generosity of the Clayburgh family has once again impacted the Pride of the North.

“My late father, Ben Clayburgh, a UND alumni, was a champion and dynamic force in helping resurrect and fundraise for the Pride of the North marching band at UND.  Director Rob Brooks fondly recalls Ben and his tireless support and fundraising efforts,” said Dr. Robert Clayburgh, president of the Bob and Sally Clayburgh Family Foundation.

The Pride is the first organization to use ACT, the UND Alumni Association & Foundation’s new crowdfunding platform.

The quick response from donors is proof that crowdfunding isn’t just hype.

Building a crowd

Shane Hersch, prospect and data analyst at the Alumni Association & Foundation, let the band know in the beginning that for Pride-a-Palooza to be successful, they’d have to be involved.

“Collaboration is one of the biggest parts of crowdfunding,” Hersch said. “Without that, it limits itself right away.”

Music education senior Shane Baesler and mechanical engineering junior Chris Mcgill, who both play a variety of instruments for the band, got the message. To get new uniforms, they needed to start talking to people.

“We kept telling people, ‘I know that you already shared it and retweeted it last week. Do it again,’” Baesler said.

“With social media, you are potentially hitting about 20 to 30 people that you don’t actually know,” Mcgill said. “But they might know someone who has gone to UND, was in a band program or has been in a situation similar to the one we’re in.”

A successful crowdfunding campaign is more about affinity than anything else, Hersch said. Younger generations are more likely to fund projects that align with their passions, not their area code.

It’s also about seeing where your money went, which is hard to do for donors who can’t afford a building.

“The idea is to connect donors to that tangible object,” Hersch said. “Football is a good example. Donors can say, ‘I bought four helmets for the football team,’ and they can see that and can make a connection.”

Wear with Pride

The Pride recently got the green light to sell their old uniforms, and it took Baesler and Mcgill a split second to decide to buy their old attire.

“It brings back a lot of good memories,” Mcgill said. “Knowing the next few graduates coming through will have even better uniforms is happy feeling too.”

Baesler will graduate soon and won’t get to wear a new uniform, but he insists he’s ok with that. He’s happy knowing that the next generation of marchers coming to UND will be a sharp dressed band.

“Knowing that they’re coming to a University that supports this program by making us look good on the field really means a lot to me,” Baesler said.

Former UND Today writer Brian Johnson and Milo Smith, senior director of publications and media relations at the Alumni Association & Foundation contributed to this article.