Competition, social media and the desire to give back drive young alumni donations
Florida A&M University (FAMU) alumni did more than just come back to “the Hill” for Homecoming 2019. They gave back.
During Homecoming Convocation 2019 and at the football game on Saturday, groups of alumni were recognized for donations to the University’s fundraising campaign since Homecoming 2018, which enabled the University to reach last year’s goal of $11.6 million. Donors have raised $2.1 million (with over $277,000 during Homecoming week) of this year’s $12.2 million goal.
“It is so inspirational to witness alumni stepping up and giving back to Florida A&M University. We know all too well that FAMU alumni demonstrate their love and support of this institution in numerous ways. However, providing financial support shows true commitment and ensures the future success of FAMU and the students who walk these hallowed grounds,” said President Larry Robinson, Ph.D.
Among the top givers recognized was the Freshman Class of 1999.
Class captains Nikki Foster and Walter Brown said the plan was hatched right after Homecoming 2018. A reunion committee was created after the fundraising goal was established. They saw the Freshman Class of 1998 had raised $42,499.34, which was announced during Homecoming 2018.
“We really got down to business over the summer. We saw what ‘98 did. We were definitely going to top ‘98. We were going to come in with big ambitious goals,” Brown said.
They set their sights on exceeding the $167,141.98 raised by the FAMU chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, incorporated. Their goal? $199,999.99.
“The fundraiser was the driving force for our homecoming - not to come back and party,” said Foster, a freelance producer in Los Angeles and a 2004 School of Journalism & Graphic Communication graduate. “Social media, Facebook, allowed us to galvanize classmates where we know people are very active.”
Initially, the organizers asked for individual pledges of $1,999.99, but there were other tiers, such as Orange and Green and Excellence with Caring. The class also organized raffles, meet and greets, offered sideline passes, meetings with Coach Willie Simmons, plaques, and participation in the check presentation ceremony as ways to raise money.
“The hard goal was to get as many people as possible to give $2,000,” said Brown, a 2004 College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities graduate who lives in Brooklyn, New York. “As we got down to crunch time, people from our class were saying, ‘If somebody gives $100 or $1,000, I’ll match.’ People were in the spirit of giving and trying to challenge other people. They said, ‘If you show me the receipt, I will match what you donate.’ That was a big pool at the very end.”
The check for the convocation and on-field presentation read: $190,599.99. The amount is currently more than $200,000.
Shawnta Friday-Stroud, Ph.D., who leads fundraising as vice president for University Advancement, said the young alumni and affinity groups have prompted the University to change the way it connects with donors. The Alpha Xi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi was recognized for raising over $247,000 through its Alpha Xi Cares campaign over the last year.
Friday-Stroud and her husband Odell donated a $250,000 legacy gift to the School of Business and Industry (SBI), where she serves as dean. They met at SBI and both graduated from the school.
“Legacy giving through a life insurance policy in which FAMU is the owner and beneficiary has allowed us to give (on lay-a-way) to the school that has given so much to us,” Friday-Stroud said.
Brandi and Corey Fedrick were both recognized for their legacy gift as well.
The Freshman Class of 2004 also demonstrated the power of Facebook to help a giving campaign. The class celebrated 2019 as its 15th anniversary of setting foot on campus by donating $91,839.02 for student success/scholarships.
Tiffani Hardrick, who works for Johnson & Johnson in Tampa, said class members had social media when they were in college and used social media to keep in touch after graduation. When they decided to raise money for FAMU, social media helped them organize.
“We wanted to leave a legacy and give back,” said Hardrick. “We love FAMU.”
And the giving won’t stop, added fellow classmate, former SGA President Andrew Collins.
“For our 20th anniversary, we want to give back $250,000,” Collins said. “In five years, we are going to outdo everyone. Our 20th-year reunion is going to blow minds.”
Lockheed Martin Corporation: $90,000 (STEM initiatives)
Boeing: $53,000 (STEM initiatives)
Visit Tallahassee: $40,000 (Athletics)
Tallahassee Memorial: $35,000 (Athletics)
Black Dollar Giving: $33,000 (student success initiatives)
Northrop Grumman Corporation: $30,000 (program support)
Regions Bank: $30,000 (Athletics and student programs)
McDonald’s: $25,000 (scholarships)
The Alpha Xi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.: $247,970 (scholarships).
Freshman Class of 1999: $200,000 (student success/scholarships)
Freshman Class of 2004: $91,839.02 (student success/scholarships)
Beta Alpha AKA Endowment: $42,637(scholarships)
Freshman Class of 1984: $34,810.95 (Student success/scholarships)
Beta Alpha AKA Pearls of Opulence: $25,230 (scholarships)
Henry, Jalen and Sabrina Pritchett-Evans: $360,000 (scholarships)
Corey and Brandi Fedrick: $250,000 (Athletic scholarships)
Odell, McClain and Shawnta Stroud, Ph.D. : $250,000 (SBI)
Drs. Howard E. and Margaret W. Lewis: $100,000 (scholarships)
Tommy Duncan: $45,000 (scholarships)
Dr. Lenora Peters Gant: $25,000 (scholarships)
Clayton and Audrey Simmons Smith: $25,000 (College of Education)