Tag Archives: Historically black colleges and universities

African American Corporate Executives: HBCUs Need You!

The expertise and connections of African American corporate executives can help chart a sustainable future for historically black colleges and universities.

hbcu, historically black collegesHistorically black colleges and universities are amongst the largest African American controlled businesses in America. Many date back to the 19th century.  They have educated generations and built the black middle class. They are major employers in communities across the country. They also face well-documented challenges as they operate in an increasingly competitive educational marketplace.

These challenges can be addressed through a deep and meaningful partnership with African American corporate executives. These executives have increased corporate profits, managed turnarounds, introduced new products, increased employment, expanded operations, managed globalization, developed new technologies, and introduced social media to market and sell their products. Their expertise and management skills – when combined with that of academic leaders and trustees – can creatively and strategically address higher-education challenges in areas such as recruitment, retention and graduation; finances; marketing; and fundraising including alumni giving, corporate, foundation, state and federal support.

African American corporate executives can serve as executive coaches and mentors to presidents and chancellors, shadowing these leaders and working with them to provide additional strategies, perspective and potential solutions gained from their corporate experience.  They can volunteer to serve as trustees providing HBCUs with the same level of professionalism they would bring to a corporate board. They can serve as interim-presidents acting as change agents who help address unresolved structural challenges. They can serve on a corporate leadership team – joining with their peers – to provide management expertise and connections that can transform institutions. Such a team can surround and support the president and trustees helping to resolve challenges and take advantage of unleveraged opportunities.

Corporate executives can also provide funding and resources needed to stabilize our HBCUs. They can build endowments. They can ensure the continued competitiveness of HBCUs through timely capital investments in facilities, equipment and technology. Mutually beneficial strategic collaborations can support corporations who place a premium on attracting and retaining a diverse talent.

When the White House or a state governor needs top talent they often turn to the private sector, calling upon the patriotism of corporate executives, asking them to take a leave of absence to serve their fellow citizens. Today we need African American executives to heed the call to service. HBCUs provide a special brand of higher education. They play a critical role in educating African American, Hispanic and first generation students who seek an education that will allow them to fully participate in the global economy and build a strong future for themselves and their families.

Increased “business know-how” and financial investment can help HBCUs continue to play a key role in addressing educational disparities. Reach out to these institutions, share your know-how, and help them grow to the next level.  Volunteer now!

Photo credit: HBCUBuzz

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

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UNCF telethon: a black history game changer

UNCF telethon: a black history game changer

UNCF Telethon Parade of StarsLights, camera, action. In 1980 the United Negro College Fund, UNCF, launched the Parade of Stars telethon. It became a nationwide fundraising program raising millions of dollars for generations of students, and support for historically black colleges and universities. It became the largest one-day African American special event in the country. It changed black history – and American history – creating an acknowledged culture of fundraising in the African American community. America’s largest corporations became engaged. Small churches, teachers, sororities and fraternities became engaged. Donors and volunteers from across the country organized to support UNCF and celebrate black philanthropy.

Here’s the back story. The telethon actually began years earlier in Dallas, Texas. The first telethon was a live performance at the Fairmont Hotel with STAX recording artists Rufus Thomas and Johnny Taylor backed by the Dallas symphony. The performance was filmed, edited and prepared for broadcast in 13 radio and television markets across Texas. Local volunteers answered phones and families across Texas called to give. A national fundraising movement was born.

The telethon gained national exposure in 1974 with hosts Nancy Wilson and Clifton Davis. Ron Bookman secured the talent; television and radio stations broadcast in select markets at no charge. This caught the attention of Anheuser-Busch and the rest is history. Lou Rawls, as spokesman for Anheuser-Busch, became the iconic host of the telethon. American Airlines, Kellogg, General Motors soon joined as sponsors and underwriters.

The telethon became a great recruiting tool for UNCF colleges. It also increased alumni pride and giving. It sent a message to corporations and foundations: UNCF colleges are important to African Americans and America. With an ear to the ground for the drumbeat of the community, these major funders joined with grassroots America to give – and give generously – to what became the “charity of choice” for African Americans. UNCF shed its image as an organization that appealed to the elite: it had launched a “people’s campaign” engaging donors and volunteers from all walks of life.

The telethon did what hadn’t been done before. It created a culture of fundraising throughout the black community that also engaged Hispanics, American Indians and Whites. It made UNCF a household word, and the phrase “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste” one of America’s most iconic slogans. Corporations participated in cause-marketing focused on the black consumer. African Americans became the majority of UNCF donors, “documenting” their widespread support for the organization. The telethon provided an opportunity for all segments of the community to participate and be publicly recognized for their contributions. It provided economic opportunities for African American advertising agencies, marketing executives, producers, writers and small businesses. Most importantly it demonstrated the power of diverse volunteer-led fundraising. Our take: Think big, start small.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.”  They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them @saadshaw.

Saluting Dr. Patterson founder of the UNCF

Dr. Patterson of UNCFBlack History Month celebrations are incomplete without a salute to nationally recognized fundraiser Dr. Frederick Douglass Patterson, founder of the United Negro College Fund. Named for abolitionist Frederick Douglass, Dr. Patterson was committed not only to fundraising but to collective fundraising that has changed the lives of generations of African Americans

Born in 1901, orphaned at age two, and raised by his sister Patterson earned a teaching certificate from Prairie View Normal and Industrial Institute in Texas by age 14; and a doctorate in veterinary science by age 22 and a master of science degree by age 27 both from Iowa State university. At 32 he earned a second doctorate from Cornell University. At 34 he began his tenure as the third president of Tuskegee Institute, a position he held for 25 years. As president Dr. Patterson established the university’s School of Veterinary Science and continued the institute’s strong fundraising tradition begun by its founder Dr. Booker T. Washington. He also authored the weekly column The Southern Viewpoint published in the Pittsburgh Courier.

On Saturday January 30, 1943 Dr. Patterson published his thoughts on the need for collective fundraising to benefit private black colleges with the title “Would it not be wise for some Negro schools to make joint appeals to public for funds?” And so it began. In 1944 Dr. Patterson founded the United Negro College Fund and launched the first national campaign to raise funds for twenty seven private, historically black colleges and universities from across the south serving 12,000 students with income of $765,000.

Fast forward to today and UNCF has raised more than $3.3 billion, almost $1.5 billion of which has been raised in the past decade alone, to enable more than 400,000 deserving students to earn the college degrees they want and need but might not otherwise be able to afford. The organization is ranked among the top ten charitable organizations in the country by The Non-Profit Times and The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Dr. Patterson could have focused his energies on raising funds for Tuskegee. Instead he was unselfish in his commitment to access to higher education for African Americans. In addition to founding UNCF Dr. Patterson founded the College Endowment Funding Plan for which he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. The CEFP raised over $60 million for 36 participating schools. He also served as president of the Phelps-Stokes Fund focused on African Americans and higher education.

He had a vision for both fundraising and social financing that leveraged private and public funding. From the very beginning he encouraged African Americans to give to HBCUs with his 1943 words “…such a campaign might well begin with Negro people of America.” It not only began, it continues.

We salute Dr. Patterson a visionary African American fundraiser who created one of the most well-known and well-respected fundraising organizations in the United States of America. The UNCF is a preeminent American organization known across the globe by its iconic slogan “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.”  They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow then @saadshaw