4Numbers Matter

HBCUs generally have a lower number of graduates due to the lower student population, when compared to larger schools. The belief that less students equals less graduates, less graduates equal less alumni association members and less members equal less fundraising money has led the HBCU Community to want and accept less. Making them feel comfortable with giving less or none at all.

Fix; Explain to students that it is up to them to change the thought that less is more. Even if 200 people graduate in your class, you have the potential to raise, give back and support your university better than 2,000 gradates can. Same concept explained in Members Vs Men by Walter Herbert Mazyck.

3Bad College Experience

HBCUs are unfortunately known for terrible administration services to students. When it comes to dealing with student inquiriesuniversity staff tend lack organizational skills, management skills and most important, customer service skills. If this continuously occurrs semester after semester, students will develop a distaste for the university.

Fix; Students voice your opinion consistently. Just make sure your voicing it to the right person. Do not ask a secretary to do something that is only in the power of the President. Also on the part of the administration; pay close attention to who you hire. Conduct surveys monthly to check up on how things are going. Ensuring that cases where students have issues are closed and have reached a proper resolution in a timely and professional are imperative to making sure that everyone is satisfied with the effort put forth by the administration they are paying to help them with their educational needs. Who would want to give back hard-earned money to an institution that did not work hard for them?

2Non Qualified Staffing

At times we may find that Alumni Association leaders are not always qualified to hold that position. How do you expect to raise money when the one leading the efforts does not have a proven record for raising money? A few years ago, I watched a student at Howard University, Victoria Fortune, raise $8,000 for Somalia and $20,000 Haiti in a short span of time. She made that endeavor seem effortless. She was passionate and tenacious in her efforts to raise money for a cause that was important to her. Leaders like Ms. Fortune are the kind of people you want leading Alumni Associations efforts.

Fix; Pay close attention to who we let lead our Alumni Associations. Representatives need to have passion, accountability and a great track record.

1Financial Stability 

Student loan interests rates are at a all time high, and it is hard to keep up with payments when one may not always be able to find work right after graduation. It is safe to say that some people do not have the income that will allow them to feel secure in giving back to their Alma maters. When we have bills stacking up, and other important life obstacles ahead of us we do not always have helping our old university on the top of the to-do list.

Fix; It is simple–something is better than nothing. If 1000 people give only $1, that is $1000 more that we now have in our bank that was not there before. You do not have to give hundreds of dollars. The pennies add up over time, a small contribution is better than no contribution at all. Also, it is important to understand that giving back does not always mean giving money. Volunteering your time when you can is just as valuable as money.


  1. THANK YOU! Such a great leader. Posting the solutions as well. Its so easy to point fingers but its hard for some to give solutions.

  2. I tweeted about this a while back. my idea (commonly done in our pwi counterparts.) is commitments if you could get graduates to give just $100 a year for a small institutions that graduates just 400 students a year means after the first 5 years you would bring in $200,000 dollars a year. for a larger school that graduates 1,000 you are talking about $500,000 dollars a year after that first five years. But my much bolder idea was to ask $50 a month which after 5 years means a steady 1.2million for the smaller institutions and 3million for the mid-large. And most importantly if you can get a large number of current alumni to also join the commitment these numbers raise exponentially.

    • Great point. It is up to us explain the new creative techniques to some of our outdated systems.

  3. This is a good article and the suggestions of remedy are good. I just want to point out that one graduate is an alumnus. Two or more graduates are alumni.

  4. The obvious holes in the article are the following:
    1. The assumption is that Blacks don’t give because they do not have the money. Blacks spend over two billion a year on soda alone! Check to see the largest endownments of an HBCU and see if it even comes close to that amount of money.
    2. While Victoria Fortune fundraising is laudable for a student it is chump change for a development officer. Higher Education is witnessing multi-billion dollar campaigns and a student raising $28,000 is good for an HBCU? That is what we have currently now in development officers. HBCU needs individuals who can caputure real money!
    3. If 1,000 alumni gives $1 the school will have $1,000 more than they have had before…I’m sorry $1,000 is nothing! Talk about rising to low expectations!
    Some of our poorest brothers and sisters give hundreds of dollars to things they value…church…clothing store….oh yes, the soda! And we are saying if an alumni can just start with a dollar things will get better? Hmmm….
    The first step is for black alumni and the community for that matter to find value in the HBCU and not just talk the talk, but talk the walk with their checkbooks.. BTW, I am one of those who give on a regular basis to my school.

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