How Claflin Raised $105 Million

Record-breaking capital campaign was a total campus effort.

Claflin University has raised more than $105 million through its five-year, ‘Imagine the Possibilities’ capital campaign. Officials announced the achievement Thursday evening at a campus assembly, formally closing a fundraising effort that involved students, alumni and executives from start to finish, and exceeded its original goal by nearly $10 million.

The entire campus bought into the concept.

Over the last five years, Claflin would intermittently put out information about major gifts being made towards its multi-million dollar initiative to boost endowment reserves, scholarship funds and facilities construction and improvement. Launched in June 2011, Claflin students raised more than $100,000 in less than in a year in support of the campaign.

One year later, the university was recognized for eclipsing a 50 percent alumni giving rate, highest among all historically black colleges and universities.

In 2015, the school announced that it had exceeded expectations for the first phase of the campaign, raising $90 million with its ‘all-hands-on-deck’ formula.

But here’s the most interesting quote from that release.

An astonishing 98 percent of Claflin’s administrators, faculty and staff have donated to the cause. The student body has surpassed its original $100,000 goal, raising $162,438, and is well on its way to achieving a new goal of giving $200,000 to the capital campaign. Claflin parents are also an integral part of the campaign, having surpassed their original $50,000 goal. They are closing in on a new goal of giving $100,000 to the capital campaign.

Every stakeholder group had a goal, and surpassed it. And they didn’t stop.

What makes Claflin so special?

Claflin isn’t known as an athletic juggernaut, and isn’t stationed in some metropolitan area with a growing demographic of millionaires who are drawn to its campus and tradition. It’s not known for a dope homecoming, and for generations, was known as ‘the school on the other side of the fence’ to South Carolina State University faithful.

But credit university president Henry Tisdale for building an academic profile and campus experience that resonates with students, faculty and graduates. To casual HBCU observers, Claflin may have a nationally unknown brand. But it is not being negatively propelled with headlines screaming about board scandal, student dissatisfaction or falling enrollment, budget woes or crime.

And to close HBCU observers, Claflin has gone about its business becoming a steady research and career prep resource, particularly in the sciences. It receives competitive grants and its faculty are recognized for excellence in teaching. And typically, if you are looking at a class photo of black students involved in some kind of research or leadership program, it is a safe bet that one or two Claflin students have posted a selfie somewhere from the same shoot.

Those realities resonate within the campus community and beyond. Panthers take pride in supporting a brand that stays above the fray of typical HBCU scandal, and outpaces its own ‘little engine that could’ mentality.

And just one year removed from being named ‘HBCU of the Year,’ and in an era where HBCU alumni giving and enrollment are on the rise while the federal government is looking for ways to clamp down on colleges with poor outcomes, Claflin adds another achievement to the list.

Not bad for the school on the other side of the fence.