Sunday, November 16, 2014
Wise and worldly readers, do you have any thoughts on ways that community colleges could become more effective players in the philanthropic world?
But now that the governments have decided to spend only on people who carry guns (the military, the police, and the prison guards), the public institutions are having to scramble to find donors to cover what the government no longer pays for. And getting donors to pay to keep the lights on and the teachers paid is difficult—it isn't the socially glamorous giving of a new football stadium or opera hall.
It is tough even at R1 research universities, so it must be even tougher at the community colleges, where the work is even less glamorous (but at lest as important to the future of the country).
Personally, I think that community colleges would be better off convincing voters and politicians to return to historic levels of support, as that will provide longer-lasting returns than the enormous never-ending effort of chasing after philanthropic dollars.
Given that government money is easier to get than the work it takes to get it off philanthropists in dollar for dollar terms.
The only way you could win is to get money for things the government won't pay you for anyway - which is maybe why some colleges spend phil-money on seemingly crazy things.
Perhaps the easiest way to get the ball rolling is to ask the graduates what they would have wanted to make their life easier at a CC and then go after that first. Then once things are ticking over you could go after the things the CC wants.
If I were doing fundraising at a CC, I would focus on endowed chairs and pitch those to local businesses and the uber rich grads and transfers. I would also talk about endowing boutique programs that target hard to reach students (but that have a proven track record of success - perhaps after a round of grant funding) or innovation funds. Have a catalog of your past successes to help sell donors on your value. With “normal people” I would also try the "every little bit counts" method that has worked for politicians - try to work out a way to get small monthly donations from credit cards or direct deposit rather than one big check (most people can manage $20 per month easier than a lump sum of $240.) Give them a Chinese menu of places the money could go so that they get invested in what they are “building” at your school. Levar Burton just raised $5 million in a Kickstarter campaign to make Reading Rainbow into an ap and most donations were less than $50. Would Kickstarter work as a fundraiser for a program or project at your campus?
I would also get to know the local businesses that do matching funds and target messages to grads that work for those companies to encourage them to double their dollars. I would ask the businesses for help with this as well – ask them to remind their employees that you are on the list of potential places the money could go.
ask the graduates what they would have wanted to make their life easier at a CC and then go after that first This is brilliant – I would do this too.