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12 Things Your HBCU Alumni Association/Chapter Needs To Do To Be Financially Successful


“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” – Alan Lakein

Far too many HBCU Alumni Associations and Chapters have been asleep at the wheel for far too long financially. They have conducted themselves like a child who says they want to start a lemonade stand, but refuses to take the time to make a plan of acquiring lemons, sugar, water, and certainly not building a lemonade stand. There is more time spent playing with their friends and then seemingly complaining that their friends do not support their lemonade stand – that does not exist. It is enough to drive one mad. We have laid out twelve steps that HBCU alumni associations and chapters need to do to make themselves financially integral and sustainable for the future to meet the financial needs of both African America and the HBCUs they serve.

  1. Move banking accounts to African American owned banks and/or credit unions. It is utterly baffling that HBCUs and HBCU Alumni Associations/Chapters at this point still have not done this very elementary point of economic development given the acute presence of the #BankBlack movement over the past few years. Public HBCUs have more red tape by being state institutions and there are significant political dynamics at play there, but private HBCUs and HBCU alumni associations/chapters at private or public HBCUs at this point simply have no excuse.
  2. Invest in technology, especially financial technology. If HBCU Alumni Associations/Chapters want younger alumni involvement as they claim then they have to come into the 21st century – do you realize we are two decades into the 21st century and some HBCU foundations, alumni associations/chapters do not have a functioning web presence. This is where typically you would insert a mind blown emoji or gif. It is unfathomable and inexcusable at this point. HBCU Alumni Associations/Chapters need a web and social media presence independent of the mother institution for a myriad of reasons that should be readily apparent without great explanation. Alumni associations/chapters can work out an agreement with their schools to create work study that involves social media work and web development for those students who are interested and have the necessary skillset. Otherwise, spend the money and pay for a real web designer and social media manager – it is worth it. Financial technology – accepting payment by Venmo, CashApp, etc. should not be groundbreaking it should be standard. There are a plethora of financial technology available for nonprofit organizations. This should be the job of the treasurer at both the national and chapter levels to find technology that can improve the financial efficiency.
  3. Collect information on your members. Know your association/chapters strengths and weaknesses. If you plan on doing education outreach with your alumni association/chapter, it may help knowing who in the organization that has a background and connections in education. Need to put on an event? It may help to know the alumnus who worked in event planning or knows someone who does. Other information should be household income, level of education, home ownership, etc. The more information the better (we will explain the value of this in another point). But not knowing what assets you have is a dearth of proper planning and strategy.
  4. Write a business plan. If you do not know where you are going, any road will get you there. This opaque behavior is stressfully true with HBCU Alumni Associations/Chapters. We have an alumni association/chapter, now what? Having a written plan of what you want to accomplish, why, and how is paramount to any organization. HBCU Alumni Associations/Chapters are no different. The business plan should be reviewed and updated every 3-4 years to ensure that goals are on track . A review committee made up of internal and external members would be advised.
  5. Create a revenue and investment committee. These can be one committee or two committees, but it needs to exist. Beyond dues, how does the association/chapter plan to make money? Thinking of ways that revenue can be generated and those ideas presented to the association and chapter would be vital. Seriously, because have we not killed the annual golf tournament? Someone on this committee needs to have an investment background and if there is no one in the chapter with it, then invite a local financial adviser to sit on the committee in a volunteer role to help.
  6. Raise dues. There was just a collective gasp from everyone just now. However, creativity. Right now, most associations/chapters charge annual dues of $25-35 annually. Going to a monthly model of $5-10 can skyrocket annual dues revenue to $60-120 which is an increase of over 100 percent in dues revenue and it is an amount that few will miss. Implementing financial technology can allow this to be automated around alumni pay periods.
  7. Produce a newsletter and sale local advertising. Remember the roster of your membership and the data we talked about collecting. This is extremely valuable in putting together a media kit that you can use to sell local advertising in. Most alumni associations/chapters send out newsletters anyway. The ability to monetize that in the most optimal way requires being able to tell potential advertisers who they are reaching. Imagine being able to simply sell ten advertisements a year with twelve month commitments that each pay $50 per month. This is $6,000 in new annual revenue for the chapter from local businesses and relationship building.
  8. Hire a financial adviser. It can be the aforementioned one or a different one, but this also needs to be done. Associations/Chapters should be generating far more income than they do with the collective financial ability at their disposal. As an entity, your association/chapter can have a brokerage account that invest in stocks and bonds – not just sitting in a checking and savings account losing purchasing power. Ensure that the financial adviser is credible. There are even African American brokerage firms that can provide accounts and advising all under one roof. Again, we are not going to fundraise our way to institutional wealth. Our organizations’ money needs to be making money while it “sleeps” because money never sleeps.
  9. Purchase real estate. Now that you have a financial adviser, your chapter should also retain a real estate adviser to help build a rental property portfolio. Remember, we just created $6,000 in new annual revenue via the newsletter. You also raised dues from $25 to $60 and with the $35 surplus on a chapter of just twenty alumni that provides and extra $700 annually. In line with your investment income from your brokerage is also rental income. The association/chapter can focus on purchasing everything from single-family to commercial properties. If chapters purchased near their HBCU, it could help stem off any potential gentrification as many HBCUs are seeing, but in little position to do anything about. They could also purchase real estate locally where their chapter is located. This would provide the association/chapter another stream of revenue and diversified real estate holdings.
  10. Invest in African American small businesses. This could be done in conjunction with African American owned banks/credit unions. If a small business could not qualify for a SBA loan, then the chapter could work out a deal with the bank that would allow them to review the investment on the bank’s recommendation. The chapter would then either invest in the business with equity or provide a loan and act as a shadow lender. We know this is something desperately needed for many African American small businesses who are trying to grow and for some reason or another lack access to traditional financial products. Imagine a local African American kid comes to the bank with the next great social media company, but he needs $38,000 to get it going and does not qualify, but the bank says they have a program that may work to help him. The chapter invest the $38,000 for a 50 percent stake and acts as a passive investor while the kid builds his dream. Why $38,000? This is the amount Mark Zuckerberg and classmate Eduardo Saverin invested to get Facebook off the ground in 2004. A company now worth $840 billion and a 50 percent stake would be worth $420 billion – from a $38,000 investment. Not to mention the potential to secure jobs and internships for your HBCU’s students and alumni as the company grew.
  11. Endow internships at local organizations. HBCU alumni constantly complain about our students not having access to opportunity. Well, now with your new found financial wealth you can buy them access just like everyone else does for their community. The Museum of Natural Science in New York, Miami, Houston, etc. sure do appreciate that $100,000 donation your association/chapter gave them to hire a paid summer internship. The condition? That intern needs to come from your HBCU. Now, a student from your HBCU gets a paid summer internship, work experience in a field of their interest, and most importantly builds their professional network.
  12. Be transparent. Associations and chapters need to ensure that members feel like they know and understand what is going on. Part of this is improving the membership’s financial aptitude through financial literacy so that they understand the decisions being made on some level. Have a quarterly review of the financial portfolio and an annual audit. Trust is vital and for African American organizations that trust is built through transparency.

HBCU Alumni Associations & Chapters should be the symbol of group economics for African America. Instead, the actions have been more hat in hand with the rest of African American organizations who could, but do not leverage their capability. The infrastructure is there for HBCU Alumni Associations & Chapters to be financial forces if the proper financial strategy and plan is implemented. It is time to stop playing and start planning, there is a lemonade stand to build.

HBCU Money’s 2019 Top 10 HBCU Endowments


The adjective that best describes 2019 HBCU endowments – uninspiring. HBCU flagship endowments barely moved over the past calendar year. Of all reporting endowments, only The University of the Virgin Islands saw double digit gains in their endowment market value. Since breaking into the top 10 HBCU endowments in 2014, UVI has been on a meteoric rise almost doubling their endowment over the past six years and has become something of a canary in a coal mine.

There is plenty of blame to go around, but the jest of the matter is HBCUs and HBCU alumni associations continue to not do a good enough job of hammering financial and philanthropic literacy among their constituents. This leads to either a lack of investing or no investing at all among HBCU alumni and HBCU alumni associations and therefore a paltry engagement both from an alumni giving rate and alumni giving amounts. Simply put, there are still far too many HBCU alumni and students who do not know what an endowment is or its purpose and it is reflected in the endowments of our institutions.

If there is any solace to be taken from this year’s numbers, it is that HBCU endowments are largely in line with the overall sentiment of America’s college and university endowments. Unfortunately, the median HBCU endowment is less than 44 percent of the overall NACUBO median reporting endowment and HBCU endowments are just barely 18 percent of the NACUBO average reporting endowment.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • HBCU Endowment Total – $2.1 billion
  • Number of PWIs Above $2 billion – 54
  • Number of PWIs Above $1 billion – 108
  • HBCU Median – $64.8 million (4.07%)
  • NACUBO Median – $149 million (5.02%)
  • HBCU Average – $148 million (4.25%)
  • NACUBO Average – $816.4 million (4.24%)

All values are in millions ($000)

1. Howard University – $692,832 (0.62%)

2. Spelman College – $390,462 (0.27%)

3.  Hampton University – $282,543 (-0.98%)

4.  Meharry Medical College – $159,146 (-0.48%)

5.  Florida A&M University – $98,213 (1.93%)

6.  University of the Virgin Islands – $71,684 (15.83%)

7. North Carolina A&T State University  – $68,459 (7.58%)

8.  Tennessee State University – $61,110 (4.11%)

9. Virginia State University – $57,383 (5.33%)

10.  Winston-Salem State University – $49,755 (7.66%)

OTHERS REPORTING:

Take a look at how an endowment works. Not only scholarships to reduce the student debt burden but research, recruiting talented faculty & students, faculty salaries, and a host of other things can be paid for through a strong endowment. It ultimately is the lifeblood of a college or university to ensure its success generation after generation.

Source: NACUBO

Howard v. Harvard: Financial Takeaways From The HBCU-Ivy League Game Of The Century (Or So We Hoped)


This game was building in hype from the moment it was announced. The premier academic higher education institutions that represented the best of European American and the best of African America. Schools known best for their academics who also happen to have strong athletic heritages. Harvard University, founded in 1636, calls Boston, Massachusetts home. Arguably, the “capital” of WASP America. Howard University, founded in 1867, calls Washington, D.C. home and up until a decade ago was affectionately known as “Chocolate City” due to the high concentration of African American population. Today, thanks to gentrification it is starting to look a bit more like “Pumpkin Spice Latte City”, but that is another story all together. The game itself ended up resembling unfortunately the economic state of the two groups they represent and how sometimes no matter the size of the heart of the dog in the fight, the size of the dog actually matters. The final score: Harvard 62 v. Howard 17. HBCU Money decided to do a quick take on the financial reality of these two institutions since there is talk that HBCU-Ivy League games could be a “thing” in the future.

ENDOWMENTS:

Harvard has a 231 year head start and one could make the case even longer if we want to count African America’s struggle to hold onto financial assets from coming under attack through a myriad of issues like stolen land, Jim Crow, violence and the like for 100 years AFTER Howard’s founding. However, the situation is as the situation is. According to NACUBO, Harvard’s endowment at the end of fiscal 2018 stood at $38.3 billion, while Howard’s endowment stands at $688.5 million. That gives Harvard about $55 for every $1 that Howard has.

ALUMNI GIVING RATE:

While there are a lot of factor that tie into alumni giving rates, the fact remains it is one of the more even playing fields that HBCUs and PWIs can compete in head to head. Why? A donation of ANY size counts towards the alumni giving rate. From $1 to $100 million, it counts the same in the alumni giving rate. Harvard ranks second in the Ivy League conference with a giving rate of 33.1 percent according to Yale Daily News. Howard, like many HBCUs alumni giving rate fails to even break double digits with a 7 percent giving rate according to the Washington Post. This area may be more problematic in closing the institutional gap more than almost any other. Harvard’s alumni just by their demographic have more wealth than Howard alumni so to have an alumni giving rate that is 500 percent higher just exacerbates the problem. European Americans have over 10 times the wealth that African Americans have, which means that Harvard alumni are likely giving higher dollar amount donations and clearly at a higher percentage. If Howard and HBCUs are going to close the ground, then they are going to have to have a higher giving rate. HBCUs are not getting major donors, but they can get a lot small donors to give a lot to make up the ground.

RESEARCH EXPENDITURES:

Just as scary as the endowments, the research expenditures that both schools touts an immense institutional gap. Although, a grain of sunshine, Howard does lead all HBCUs in research expenditure, while Harvard ranks ninth among PWIs. That being said, Harvard’s annual research expenditure is 24 times the size of Howard’s. Harvard, ranked ninth nationally in research expenditures, has a 2017 RE of $1.1 billion. Howard, ranked 203rd nationally in research expenditures, has a 2017 RE of $45.8 million. Unfortunately, Harvard’s research expenditures have been trending upward the past few years, while Howard’s have been trending downward.

ATHLETIC BUDGETS:

Both institutions compete in the FCS, formerly known as Division 1-AA, but there have been 41 FCS champions since the formation of the playoff in 1978 and only one HBCU has ever participated in the championship game. Florida A&M University won the FCS championship its inaugural season and no HBCU has been back since. The Ivy League on the other hand is one of three FCS conferences that simply opts out of the playoff all together. In the 1950s, the league itself simply considered sports not even a secondary priority some would say. That being said, Harvard’s athletic budget is still 70 percent larger than Howard’s and larger than virtually every HBCU. Harvard’s $17.6 million makes a world of difference on the football field compared to Howard’s $10.1 million. The Ivy League average on athletics is $27.1 million, while the average in the SWAC/MEAC is $9.7 million. This makes future contest not very exciting too look forward too if this is the margin by which our schools will be competing against.

BILLIONAIRES:

A potentially odd category to finish with, but one clearly relevant. Resources matter in higher education and when Harvard’s endowment is almost 20 times the size of all HBCUs combined, then you have to wonder just how the gap can be closed among HBCUs and PWIs. As of 2018, Harvard has 188 alumni who were billionaires. The most of any college in America. Howard University have none. HBCUs all told have two (Oprah Winfrey and Ann Kroenke).

Howard’s largest donation in school history was $6 million in 1987, which adjusted for inflation is $13.5 million. Harvard’s largest donation seems to be a moving target with billionaire after billionaire competing for the top spot. In comparison, Harvard received a $400 million gift in 2015 from one of its 188 billionaire alumni. No HBCU has ever received a donation of $100 million or more.

 

HBCU Money’s 2018 Top 10 HBCU Endowments


The past 365 days for HBCU endowments has seen a lot of press, mainly led by Bennett College’s #StandWithBennett campaign as the school is embattled and was raising money to retain its accreditation and keep the doors open. A constant reminder of the fragility of HBCUs and their financial uncertainty. Economic conditions in the United States have made overall growth in higher education tempered and with it HBCU endowments have been a mixed bag. While the top ten HBCU endowments have five endowments that beat the median increase in endowment market value, only two endowments beat the national average. In comparison the top ten PWI endowments had eight endowments beat the national median average and seven of the ten exceeding the national average.

Over the past 12 months, the top ten HBCU endowments have increased their market value by $134.5 million or an increase of 7.4 percent over last year. There is plenty of argument that HBCUs should not be compared to the largest PWI endowments in behavior and instead to schools that are comparable in their size and scope. This is certainly a valid argument, but at a time when there are more PWIs with $1 billion plus endowments than there are HBCUs, it maybe hard to continue to lean on such an argument. The reason being is that higher education in general is experiencing and going to continue to consolidation and contraction with education alternatives entering the market. Smaller colleges and HBCUs are going to have to be over capitalized and nimble in order to shift to changing market demands and conditions. At the moment, over 90 percent of HBCUs do not have even $100 million endowments leaving them highly vulnerable as we have seen with the closure of a number of HBCUs in recent years and more than just Bennett in current crisis.

This year we included more than just the top ten, but all HBCUs who reported to NACUBO, which is the reporting endowment organization we use to keep our reporting date uniformed.

All values are in millions ($000)

1. Howard University – $688,562 (6.5%)

2. Spelman College – $389,207 (6.3%)

3.  Hampton University – $285,345 (2.2%)

4.  Meharry Medical College – $159,908 (4.1%)

5.  Morehouse College – $145,139 (2.6%)

6.  North Carolina A&T State University  – $63,827 (14.9%)

7.  University of the Virgin Islands – $61,491 (10.7%)

8.  Tennessee State University – $58,697 (5.1%)

9.  Texas Southern University – $58,158 (7.4%)

10.  Virginia State University – $54,479 (6.6%)

OTHERS REPORTING:

Take a look at how an endowment works. Not only scholarships to reduce the student debt burden but research, recruiting talented faculty & students, faculty salaries, and a host of other things can be paid for through a strong endowment. It ultimately is the lifeblood of a college or university to ensure its success generation after generation.

*Note: The change in market value does NOT represent the rate of return for the institution’s investments. Rather, the change in the market value of an endowment from FY2016 to FY2017 reflects the net impact of: 1) withdrawals to fund institutional operations and capital expenses; 2) the payment of endowment management and investment fees; 3) additions from donor gifts and other contributions; and 4) investment gains or losses.

HBCU Money’s 2017 Top 10 HBCU Endowments


HBCU endowments after a sluggish few years have bounced back with a spring in their step. Half of this year’s list has double digit gains in their endowment’s market value, which is the best showing since 2014. There are certainly some strong arguments of what has led to this turnaround in the past 365 days. One thing for sure is the strong stock market helped all universities and colleges in increased values. There has also been a renewed interest HBCU engagement among the African American community in general with increased admissions and donations across many HBCU institutions. This always bodes well for future endowments given that much of alumni giving is a numbers game. With the economy by many estimates on growing yet shaky ground, future market value growth for HBCU endowments may rest even more so in the pockets of alumni to steady the ship when rough waters approach so that will be something to keep an eye on.

We can only hope that Howard University (despite this year’s absence) is creeping towards the billion dollar endowment mark because the gap between the Top 10 HWCU/PWI endowments and the Top 10 HBCU/PBI endowments seems to only balloon year after year, with the gap increasing from an approximately $140 billion in 2010 to the current almost $200 billion. A gap that for perspective is twice as much as the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, entire net worth. As it stands now, there are 100 HWCU/PWIs with a billion dollar endowment or greater and 10 with a market value of $10 billion and greater.

Although they are far from the Top 10, Texas College continues to impress with their endowment’s market value growth, placing 9th out of the 818 colleges and universities that reported to this year’s NACUBO survey with 33.8 percent growth. Whatever is going on in Tyler, Texas, we encourage others to take note.

1. Howard University – Unreported**

2. Spelman College – $366 056 (5.5%)

3.  Hampton University – $279 093 (10.0%)

4.  Meharry Medical College – $153 653 (7.7%)

5. Florida A&M University – $113 000 (-0.1%)

6.  Tennessee State University – $55 840 (11.1%)

7.  University of the Virgin Islands – $55 549 (1.1%)

8.  North Carolina A&T State University  – $55 231 (14.9%)

9.  Texas Southern University – $54 171 (12.5%)

10. Virginia State University – $51 122 (11.6%)

Take a look at how an endowment works. Not only scholarships to reduce the student debt burden but research, recruiting talented faculty & students, faculty salaries, and a host of other things can be paid for through a strong endowment. It ultimately is the lifeblood of a college or university to ensure its success generation after generation.

 

*Note: The change in market value does NOT represent the rate of return for the institution’s investments. Rather, the change in the market value of an endowment from FY2016 to FY2017 reflects the net impact of: 1) withdrawals to fund institutional operations and capital expenses; 2) the payment of endowment management and investment fees; 3) additions from donor gifts and other contributions; and 4) investment gains or losses.

**Howard University did not report their endowment, but has been ranked number one since our list began. As such, we acknowledge the high probability that they remain as such.

Additional Notes:
NACUBO Average Endowment – $704 527 (8.9%)
NACUBO Median Endowment – $130 963 (6.0%)
Top 10 HWCU Endowments combined – $198.4 billion                                        Top 10 HBCU Endowments combined – $1.9 billion

Source: National Association of College & University Business Officers