We Just Broke an Alumni Giving Record — and Rewrote a News Story from 2011

On November 1, 2011 I was in New Orleans to be announced as president of Dillard University. Of course that was an exciting day for me and my family, and there was lots of positive news coverage. But that night there was also a story on alumni giving. You should watch the entire story below:

The focus of the story? Low alumni giving at some area HBCUs, but SPECIFICALLY Dillard University. So of course I am thinking, “Damn! Why was this a news story?” The story said Dillard had a 4% alumni giving rate. They compared that to Southern (5%), LSU (14%), Xavier (20%) and Tulane (20%).

So when I started in July of 2012 and that fall began a 17 city tour to meet with alums from coast to coast, I showed images from this newscast comparing us to the other schools. I also shared a quote from the late Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook, who in this 1995 newsletter wrote:

More and more, philanthropic foundations, corporations, individual donors, and others are asking about the contribution of alumni and are making their gifts dependent upon alumni gifts. If your own alumni whom you educated do not support you, why should we?, they ask. They make a compelling point.”

While the final numbers aren’t in, we just finished the 2016–17 fiscal year with OVER a 20% alumni giving rate, with record numbers of alumni givers as well as a record alumni giving percentage.

This was definitely a team effort: local alumni chapters, past national alumni president Pamela Francois and current president Dr. Sidney Green, alumni affinity groups (especially sororities and fraternities), faculty and staff, board members, and most importantly- the institutional advancement staff! I want to thank everyone who pitched in.

Nationally, alumni giving rates are less than 9%. HBCUs are in a similar range. So being at 20% is great. It puts us in the top 5 or so for all HBCUs. It also, based on US News data, makes us #1 in the entire state of Louisiana for alumni giving! (Cue the Drake song “Started from the bottom now we’re here…)

But now is not the time to settle.

In 2018, the city of New Orleans turns 300. So maybe we should shoot for 30%? Stay tuned.

The Prez