Last week Robert “Bobby” McDonald, a member of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors, talked with us about community college trends. This week he discusses the importance of fundraising by community colleges.
Saad & Shaw – Why do community colleges need to engage in fundraising?
McDonald –In 2008, California’s Community Colleges made history, when they received the largest gift to community colleges. The Bernard Osher Foundation made a commitment of $50 million to the California Community Colleges, which created a new trend in community college philanthropy, helping raise awareness of the need to increase scholarship support to California’s community college students. With an additional $50 million funds, raised by our community colleges and the scholarship endowment, the total could reach $100 million.
The goal of the California Community Colleges Scholarship Endowment is to support student success and opportunity by creating a permanent fund for scholarships, offering long-term relief to the rising costs that keep many students from completing their education. Our communities need to actively support the fundraising goals of the community colleges in their area to help support a winning opportunity that has a clear total impact on our future.
Saad & Shaw – What are the challenges that impact district chancellors and college presidents as they begin the work of fundraising?
McDonald – Before our financial crisis, there wasn’t a strong emphasis to fundraise. Now there is a need to find good development/foundation consultants, community organizations, grant writers and the like. The new breed of leaders now must look at entrepreneurial opportunities from the public and private sectors, in the communities, as a regular way of garnering resources.
Saad & Shaw – There must be hundreds of thousands of community college alumni in California alone. How can alumni get involved? What should they do?
McDonald – Hopefully, the directors of the community college foundations have been challenged and engaged to use the Osher gift as impetus to grow their college foundations. Now more than ever alums need to be asked to give and support. Whether it be a name on a building, a special art or science wing, an athletic field, a nursing facility, whatever is part of the mission and vision of the campus. Just ask!!
Saad & Shaw – Beyond alumni, who should support and invest in community colleges?
McDonald – We are serving 2.9 million students. We are setting, maintaining and enhancing the educational opportunities for everyone in our communities. Veterans continuing their education, students of fire science, police science, criminal justice, and nursing, just to name a few, are being served by our community colleges. We serve everyone and anyone that wants to improve their business or their quality of life. Everyone should invest in our community colleges. It is the best investment in our country.