They are celebrating over at HBCU Spelman College. Former Cosby kid Keshia Knight Pulliam hosted a major fundraiser at SAKS in Atlanta, reports The Young Black & Fabulous, and raised $1 million for her alma mater. The money will benefit Spelman students who aren’t able to graduate due to financial hardship.
While African Americans give to charity more than whites, HBCUs are suffering in part because alumni do not give gifts to their schools. “One of the toughest problems HBCUs face is getting alumni to give back,” reports NewsOne. “Several studies report alumni giving at HBCUs to be in the single digits.”
Marybeth Gasman and Sibby Anderson-Thompkinseven penned a book, Fundraising from Black-College Alumni: Successful Strategies for Supporting Alma Mater, about how HBCUs can get black alumni to give back. The two theorize that HBCUs can’t use the traditional fundraising methods of other universities. They need to think out of the box when approaching alumni during fundraising efforts. According to the article, “Graduates often cite being treated poorly by a rude employee in the bursar’s office or some other administrative office as one of the main reasons they don’t give back.”
Empower magazine reports that some HBCUs, like Tennessee State University, has an average alumni giving rate of three percent. The national average is 20 percent. (A few like Alabama A&M has a rate of 50 percent.)
“African Americans prefer to give to concrete causes, want to be thanked and need to understand where their donations are going,” Gasman tells the magazine.
There have been some major gifts, such as Bill and Camille Cosby’s $20 million donation to Spelman back in 1987, which was and still is the largest gift to the institution. But in order for financially-strapped HBCUs to survive, its successful alumni must give back.
Pulliam, who also starred in Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, graduated with a B.A. in sociology and a concentration in film in 2001.