Fayetteville/Cumberland County Alumni Chapter Funds Its Legacy
When James Shaw ‘88, President of the National Alumni Association (NAA) of Shaw University, took office in 2012, he and his executive team focused on one goal – raising the alumni giving rate. For years, the University’s alumni giving participation rate mired in the single digits. Shaw decided that something had to change. “When I met with President Yancy, I asked her for some goals we [NAA] should shoot for and she mentioned increasing alumni giving,” said Shaw. “I was thinking of doubling the alumni giving percentage from 8% to 16%, but President Yancy challenged us to do more. So we set the goal at 26%. Not only did we meet the goal, we surpassed it.”
Shaw credits the NAA’s success to old-fashion campaigning and teamwork. Shaw and his executive team went to any and every event where alumni would be present – football games, the CIAA tournament, chapter meetings – and then made phone calls and knocked on doors asking alumni to donate, in any amount. “We were present everywhere we could be, asking alumni to give whatever they could, even if it was just five or ten dollars,” said Shaw. “The goal was to just increase the amount of people who were giving, regardless of the amount.” When traditional methods produced just ordinary results, Shaw and his team turned to active alumni for help and asked them to make donations for their classmates. “We got people to give in their classmate’s name, roommate’s name, in their sorority sister or fraternity brother’s name,” said Shaw. “Those donors also received a letter noting that a donation had been made in their name. We got a lot of people to do that. It was very successful in helping us to reach our goal.”
After months of hard work, the NAA’s efforts paid off. By the end of the school year, the alumni giving participation rate stood at 32%, surpassing their goal by 6% and quadrupling the 2012 percentage. Shaw noted that an army of alumni and volunteers were instrumental in the Association exceeding the goal, but in particular he singled out NAA Recording Secretary Helen Best ’76 for her assistance. “She really took the lead on this,” Shaw mentioned. “This was her baby. She reached out to alumni on a daily basis. She really was a big part of our success.” Shaw also credits University staff members Evelyn Leathers, Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Seddrick Hill, Director of Alumni Relations and Planned Giving for supporting and helping to achieve the goal.
With the alumni giving goal achieved, Shaw and his team are turning their attention to three additional goals they hope to accomplish: establishing a new endowment by 2015; expanding the University’s Memorial Garden and yes, increasing the alumni giving percentage to 45%. “We can definitely do it,” Shaw said confidently. “We have the people and the determination to do this again.”