BY JOHN SYGIELSKI
We’re all aware that community colleges are dealing with cuts in state funding, as well as increases in enrollment. Fundraising is now more important than ever. Yet, how can we expect donors living with less to give more? We must expect it.
The nation is counting on community
The Value of Community
colleges to educate workers and support local businesses and economies.
If the nation is counting on us, our donors are as well.
Donors recognize the value of community colleges and are dedicated
to education and community. Our job, then, is to promote the value
of what we do. Community colleges educate the local workforce, keep
companies in business, and train people for the jobs of tomorrow. Who else can
make this claim? By demonstrating how we serve our community, we validate the
critical role community colleges serve, now and in the future.
According to Rich Haney, chief development officer and executive director of the
Tell Your Story
Frederick Community College (FCC) Foundation, Inc., in Maryland, “Fundraising is
all about developing and cultivating relationships with a broad constituency that
includes alumni, current and former faculty and staff, current and former board
members, members of the community, and area businesses and organizations.”
Every faculty and staff member, student, alumnus, local business owner, and
community leader connected to the community college can be engaged in fundrais-
ing. We see the difference our colleges make day after day, and we all have a story
Betheny Reid, associate vice chancellor of development and president of the Dallas
County Community College District (DCCCD) Foundation in Texas, says fundraising
is “about solutions that creatively address complex issues confronting both the
internal and the external communities that the colleges serve.” I couldn’t agree more.
One solution offered by Shouan Pan, president of Mesa Community College in
Arizona, is to “link development effort to the community college mission, to indi-
vidual student lives, and to the Completion Agenda.”
Here are four solutions to consider:
1. Demonstrate Your Value—Market your college to potential donors with
the same vigor you use to market to potential students. For example, FCC features
alumni, students, faculty and staff, donors, and community businesses and
organizations in its newsletter. DCCCD ties fundraising to specific initiatives that
address the county’s education and workforce needs, such as a new Health Careers
Resource Center, while demonstrating the return on investment. Mid-Plains
Community College in Nebraska recently launched its first capital campaign to
fund two new facilities, and recognizing the value of a college education in their
area, community leaders have championed the campaign (See page: 30).
2. Open Your Doors—Invite the community to visit your facility, host a lecture
series, or create a community garden. Phoenix College in Arizona recently coupled
fundraising with its annual Eric Fischl
Lecture Series, in partnership with the
John and Patty McEnroe Foundation,
the Phoenix Art Museum,
several corporate sponsors,
and the Maricopa Commu-
nity Colleges Foundation.
Fischl is a world-renowned
artist and alumnus of Phoe-
nix College. Similarly, FCC
has implemented a series of
cultural events for current
and prospective donors.
3. Connect Using Tech-
an e-newsletter, a You Tube video, or a
social media feed, use technology to keep
your donors informed and involved. The
West Virginia University at Parkersburg
(WVUP) Foundation uses social media
to promote donor activities and the use
of donated funds and plans to incorpo-
rate video clips. The FCC Foundation
reenergized the FCC Alumni Association
John J. “Ski” SygielSki is AACC board chair
and president of Mt. Hood Community
College in Gresham, Ore.