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Morehouse, Morehouse, Morehouse: 2019’s Million Dollar Donations To HBCUs Dominated By The Tigers Of The AUC


“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”

–Andrew Carnegie

2019 proved to be a stellar year for HBCUs and million dollar donations. Since HBCU Money began tracking these donors, 2019 has the most million dollar plus donations with eleven, ten to HBCUs directly and one to an HBCU supporting organization. Also in terms of total value of donations 2019 sets the record with $66.1 million. The one hiccup is that the number of donations is still not representative of the percentage of HBCUs to overall colleges and universities. HBCUs accounted for only 2.2 percent of the million dollar plus donations in 2019 (despite accounting for 3 percent of the nation’s colleges). That being said, the sun shined as bright as it ever has in 2019. There will be plenty of complaints that Morehouse College dominates the list with virtually half of the donations, but that also speaks to alumni not investing enough in their HBCU’s development infrastructure which at most HBCUs is an underfunded and understaffed. Endowing positions in the development office is a great place for alumni to see a strong return on investment of their alumni dollars.

High-quality donors (who give consistently and over their lifetime will probably give six to seven figures of donations) continue to show up for HBCUs, but still not representative of HBCUs presence in America’s higher education landscape. While HBCUs represent three percent of the country’s colleges, HBCUs accounted for only 2.2 percent of the million dollar plus donations in 2019. Tranformative donors (who can change the paradigm of an entire institution with one donation) continue to elude HBCUs all together, while PWI/HWCUs landed 10 donations of $100 million plus in 2019. CalTech, a private research focused university in Pasadena, CA, landed an awe inspiring $750 million donation from Stewart & Lynda Resnick.

The gap this year between top eleven PWI/HWCU gifts totaled $2.1 billion while HBCUs as mentioned totaled $66.1 million or a $32 to $1 ratio.

1. Robert F. Smith (pictured) – $34 million
Recipient: Morhouse College
Source of Wealth: Finance

2. Oprah Winfrey – $13 million
Recipient: Morehouse College
Source of Wealth: Media & Entertainment

3. Eugene McGowan, Jr.  – $4.6 million
Recipient: Morehouse College
Source of Wealth: Education

4. Jeffrey Dean & Heidi Hopper – $4 million
Recipient: Howard University
Source of Wealth: Technology

5. Virginia Howerton – $2.5 million
Recipient: Virginia Union College
Source of Wealth: Consulting

6. Shari Griswold – $2 million
Recipient: Prairie View A&M University
Source of Wealth: Oil

7. William Pickard & Judson Pickard, Jr. – $2 million
Recipient: Morehouse College
Source of Wealth: Food & Beverage, Hotels & Casinos

8. Jon Stryker – $2 million
Recipient: Spelman College
Source of Wealth: Family Wealth

9. Robert F. Smith – $1.5 million
Recipient: Morehouse College
Source of Wealth: Finance

10. Oprah Winfrey – $1.5 million
Recipient: UNCF
Source of Wealth: Media & Entertainment

11. Jose Feliciano & Kwanza Jones – $1 million
Recipient: Bennett College
Source of Wealth: Marketing, Finance

Source: Chronicle of Philanthropy