Beyond Fish Plates and Tailgates: Steering HBCU Fundraising from Fanaticism to Support~Please comment to let us know what you think

As Director of Athletics at an HBCU who oversaw fundraising efforts for the department, I learned many important lessons about HBCU fundraising culture. Perhaps none is more important than this: HBCU have plenty of fans. What they need are more supporters.

In non-profit fundraising, we spend a great deal of time identifying, cultivating, and soliciting donations, often over unintimidating, nondescript lunch and coffee meetings, at tailgating parties, and fish fries.  Everyone enjoys friends regaling us with stories of championships won, and narrowly lost, great athletes and coaches, filled stands, brimming pride, and rich traditions passed from generation to generation.  One hopes, eventually, that the conversation will pivot from yesteryear to visions for the future.  

As a career institutional advancement officer, no sweeter words can be uttered by a prospective donor than “How can I help y’all?”

An important element of discussion with prospects is the notion of what individuals and groups believe they can do to help (which often indicates both capacity and ability to give).  When discussions pivot toward this topic in HBCU circles, many are inclined to share the ways that they “support” our institutions proudly.  Some of the more common claims include:

1) I’ve never missed a game—including road games

2) I pay my booster club dues annually (~$100/year)

3) I pay my university alumni dues annually (~$50/year)

4) I organize fundraisers (crawfish boils, fish fries, and raffles)

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About MVSU Alumni

Mississippi Valley State University, as a Carnegie Classified Master's University, provides comprehensive undergraduate and graduate programs in education, the arts and sciences, and professional studies. The University is driven by its commitment to excellence in teaching, learning, service, and research--a commitment resulting in a learner-centered environment that prepares critical thinkers, exceptional communicators, and service-oriented, engaged, and productive citizens. MVSU is fundamentally committed to positively impacting the quality of life and creating extraordinary educational opportunities for the Mississippi Delta and beyond.

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