There is a place where a few HBCU presidents and executives meet frequently. The circle is a small cadre of executives with a variety of tenure in senior leadership, who congregate to share strategies, wins, losses, lessons learned and laughs about experiences in leadership, especially on campus.
The place is a simple group chat that now doubles as an innovation-in-giving circle, supporting of dozens of HBCUs nationwide.
It started shortly after one colleague asked the others to donate to his school on ‘Giving Tuesday,’ the national campaign for philanthropic support that immediately follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday post-Thanksgiving shopping rushes. The circle joked that they would only give to schools that had Giving Tuesday infographics and formal campaigns. They all did.
The small ask sparked a string of conversation about support for each other. The natural next step was to continue their philanthropic efforts by expanding their giving beyond the group chat. Several leaders in the circle gave to HBCUs beyond his/her own campus boundaries. No stipulations were made about the schools of choice. No minimum amount was agreed upon. It was all organic, and the results were outstanding.
The unintended experiment served as a mechanism for them to experience the ease with which a donor could give money to each other’s institutions and to see which schools were responsive in their gratitude. or knew that the person who gave was a university president or senior university executive, meriting a personalized letter of thanks. Some institutions passed the test – their gift officers recognized the names of those who gave and sent individual letters of thanks for their donations. Others will start checking their giving records once this article is published. And unfortunately, there may still be others that have not yet processed the gifts.
Making online contributions to each of the schools in the group emerged as a way of tracking shared giving power. In 2018, the giving circle contributed more than $120,000 dollars towards 24 HBCUs – approximately 25% of HBCUs nationwide. All campuses differ in size and need, but every dollar of the giving club went towards supporting the greatest need for each community – to help a student complete their education.
Giving circle efforts are not new, but the concept of HBCU presidents uniting to support each other’s universities, in contrast to usual recruitment and sporting rivalries, can serve as a catalyst to evoke unity towards a common goal – the preservation of our nation’s HBCUs.
Institutions that benefited from their first round of giving.
1. Alcorn State University
2. Benedict College
3. Bennett College
4. Cheyney University
5. Concordia College
6. Dillard University
7. Fisk University
8. Howard University
9. Huston-Tillotson University
10. Miles College
11. Morehouse College
12. Oakwood University
13. Paul Quinn College
14. Philander Smith College
15. Shaw University
16. Tuskegee University
17. University of the District of Columbia
18. Virginia State University
19. Virginia Union University
20. West Virginia State University
21. Winston Salem State University
22. Wilberforce University
23. Wiley College
24. Xavier University