Many alumni of HBCUs have the desire to give back in some way to their school. Many also wish to help foster the next generation of up and coming students, often in an effort to provide them with either similar assistance to what they received, or to fill a void that they themselves felt as young students seeking educational opportunities.
One of the most common and most effective ways to accomplish either and/or both of these goals is to host or promote alumni fundraising activities. Successful fundraising for HBCUs requires patients, strategy, and commitment.
In order to tap into alumni giving, you must remain committed to your cause, always ensuring that you’re on task and working toward achieving specific goals. You’ll need to set fundraising thresholds and milestones in order to measure your progress, and you’ll want to ensure you not only contact school alums, but also organizations that have benefited from the achievements of the specific HBCU’s graduates.
Successful alums are a good source of fundraising, but the businesses, other schools, social and political organizations, and any other entity that has benefited from the knowhow, expertise or just pure charisma of a graduate of the school for which you’re attempting to raise money can also be an excellent source of money.
Additionally, you’ll need to understand that fundraising takes time effort, and above all, patience. The alumni you contact to seek donations will have stories to tell, and while some of those stories may seem irrelevant to you, more than likely, they do means something, especially to the person whose tale you’re hearing.
For instance, an alumna or alumnus that gives you a long-winded tale of his or her child’s recent health issues is actually talking about financial circumstances – circumstances that may prevent monetary giving. As such, you should respond with kindness, concern and respect. If alumni can’t give back financially, let them know ways in which they can support fundraising efforts. Some may choose to give through other means.
Big-dollar donors require even more attention than the average alum. Donors who are able to give large sums often expect some “return on their investment”, so to speak. Honor big donors for what they’ve done. Find ways to repay their philanthropy with awards, plaques, publicity, gifts, or other honorariums.
One of the best ways to raise funds for HBCUs when faced with a limited number of large donors is to strike a deal or two with those you do have. Matching programs in which large donors agree to match the donations achieved from other fundraising efforts is one way to hit your fundraising goals without having to accumulate tens of thousands of individual small dollar donations.
Photo Credit: Langston University