Cultivating Alumni of Color Good Strategy as Demographics Shift, Expert Says

Top Quote New Initiative Supports Colleges' Engagement and Fund Development Efforts. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) April 25, 2011 - A groundbreaking initiative, 'Engagement and Fund Development for Alumni of Color' gets underway today, making it possible for colleges and universities across the country to significantly boost fundraising by looking no further than their own untapped resources: their alumni communities of color. Established by Sheila Lewis, founder and president of Flyin' West LLC in San Francisco, the initiative addresses the rapidly changing demographic landscape of college campuses across the country.

    "With minority alumni populations growing at a faster rate than that of Caucasians, colleges and universities that don't focus on the increasing diversity of their alumni will find their donor bases shrinking and alumni giving declining," Lewis said. "The case for this initiative is clear."

    "By the year 2050, people of color will outnumber white Americans, and this fact has significant implications for fundraising at what are now predominantly white colleges and universities," Lewis continued. "The time to prepare for coming realities is now."

    The Alumni of Color initiative is a comprehensive program of engagement and fund development intended specifically for colleges' development efforts to engage culturally and ethnically diverse alumni. The initiative's goal is to guide colleges and universities on the path of successfully engaging these alumni in ways that foster inclusion and participation, and ultimately produce major gifts. Colleges and universities can participate in the one or all of the initiative's four program components, which include awareness building; development of engagement and fundraising plans; creation of content and design, and measuring effectiveness; and program implementation.

    The consulting team responsible for delivering this program includes such notables as Dr. Marybeth Gasman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a nationally recognized authority in fundraising and philanthropy in communities of color. The team also includes others who have distinguished records in alumni engagement and fund development, including capital campaigns and annual funds; and strategic communications planning, implementation, design and production across all media types, targeting diverse communities of color.

    "Thinking about this kind of engagement and fundraising is new for many colleges," Lewis said. "It's often a challenging proposition for them. No single development or institutional advancement office can offer what Flyin' West can because no single office has put together the kind of team we have created."

    David Blasingame, executive vice chancellor for alumni and development at Washington University in St. Louis, commented that the diversity of that institution's alumni is one of its greatest strengths. "Recognizing alumni of color and encouraging their involvement in the university community is one of our key priorities, both in the short term and the long term."

    Today's announcement outlines innovations in alumni giving at colleges; however, it is one that Lewis says is more than a "feel-good moment for institutions and will likely result in providing scholarships for ethnic minorities and much more. It's about leaving an indelible mark in a unique way-driven by the philanthropic desires of diverse alumni from colleges and universities across the country-and making a real difference by financially supporting postsecondary education."

    "ALUMNI OF COLOR " is an innovative and comprehensive initiative delivered to colleges' and universities' development, alumni relations, and outreach strategists to assist them in actively engaging the core values and priorities of its ethnically diverse alumni.

    Flyin' West LLC is a network of specifically skilled professionals and agencies offering strategic business and marketing consultation to high-profile clients in education, corporate and nonprofit sectors. Since 1997, the firm has successfully selected the best, most talented and most appropriate resources for clients across the country. For more information, visit

  • FB Icon Twitter Icon In-Icon
Contact Information