Fundraising strategies in higher education: Black, white—is there any gray in between?

Lori D Spears, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation is a qualitative, comparative case study focusing on fundraising strategies used to increase alumni giving among the majority and the minority populations at a Historically Black Institution (HBI) and a Historically White Institution (HWI). For this study, the minority population at the HBI is defined as the Caucasian alumni and at the HWI the minority population is defined as the African American alumni. Both institutions are four year comprehensive Catholic institutions. When comparing both institutional types, the rate of alumni giving at historically white institutions is higher than within the black college context. Scholars have conducted research on alumni giving based on the majority population, but limited research is available about black colleges and the strategies they use to increase alumni giving. Some researchers argue that fundraising strategies are not race-specific and can be applied to any culture while others suggest that fundraising success is dependent upon understanding the giving behavior within a specific community. Other researchers indicate that race-related motivations, unique educational experiences, and issues of trust are large factors that reflect giving in the black community. This study provided comparative insight to individuals affiliated with institutional advancement and alumni giving strategies. Specifically, results discussed herein will provide new strategies to increase alumni giving among institutional minority populations. In addition, this dissertation will help development professionals become more aware of the culture of giving within the African American community and it will add to the limited research on alumni giving at black colleges. I found that the strategies used to increase alumni giving within these two institutional types were consistent. Additionally, the strategies used to increase alumni giving among the minority population were consistent with the majority population at both institutions. Ironically, when institutions used the same strategies with the minority population as they did with the majority population at both institutions, these strategies were not effective. Therefore, I concluded that development professionals should use culturally-sensitive strategies when soliciting the minority populations to increase alumni giving.

Subject Area

Education finance|Black studies|Ethnic studies|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Spears, Lori D, "Fundraising strategies in higher education: Black, white—is there any gray in between?" (2008). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3310497.