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Philanthropy versus Fundraising – An Imperative for HBCUs

Reimagining Historically Black Colleges and Universities

ISBN: 978-1-80043-665-7, eISBN: 978-1-80043-664-0

Publication date: 26 May 2021


According to the most recent Giving USA report, charitable contributions in the United States total over $410B. 1 While education is the second-largest slice of the pie, receiving over $58B, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) lag predominantly white institutions (PWIs) in their ability to raise funds for their institution. HBCUs struggle to capture the sustained attention of alumni, lack resources to adequately fund advancement operations and require a new level of skills and strategy to support the survival of our institutions beyond 2020.

This chapter will describe how HBCUs can move from fundraising to continuous philanthropy and understand the building blocks necessary for an optimized advancement operation required to sustain our institutions and the students we serve. Using the framework designed by AMAtlas Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) survey advancement leaders can develop strategies by making data-driven decisions. In the most recent VSE survey, only 26 HBCUs participated, which does not elevate the relevance and power of philanthropy at our institutions. 2 Additionally, practical points highlight how we can strategically partner and support Alumni Associations when social media and virtual opportunities are more commonplace than ever before. Our institutions must embrace emerging trends and tax advantage opportunities while leveraging events in ways that enhance philanthropy as opposed to serving as the dominant strategy each fiscal year.

University presidents and governing board members rely heavily on philanthropy as an external revenue source to support the operations and expansion of their institutions. With tuition revenue models outpacing what our students can afford, the demand on advancement will become more important in the future. Institutional leadership must have the best understanding of what philanthropy is and is not, and how their leadership and vision can support a culture of philanthropy needed to thrive in a competitive higher education marketplace.


Mahone, R.L. (2021), "Philanthropy versus Fundraising – An Imperative for HBCUs", Crosby, G.B., White, K.A., Chanay, M.A. and Hilton, A.A. (Ed.) Reimagining Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Great Debates in Higher Education), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 71-77.



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