Could A Children’s Book Help Increase Alumni Giving? One Tuskegee Grad Thinks So
By Robert E. Constant
As a professional fundraiser, I have spent most of my life on the campuses of some of the most recognized and respected universities in the country. So last year while reading, “Hello Scarlet Knight”, a children’s book about Rutgers University where I was employed, I thought to myself “Why don’t we have a children’s book about my alma mater Tuskegee University”?
After a moment of thought I immediately went online to mascotbooks.com, the publishing company specializing in sports themed children’s books about mascots of professional and collegiate teams like the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers University or Cav Man of the University of Virginia. After some research, I was shocked to learn there had been a couple of books written about HBCU Mascots including, Howard University and Morehouse College. There is even a book based on the Bayou Classic! Administrators at HBCU’s should view these books as a recruiting tool to introduce children and kids to the spirit and pageantry of HBCU’s and their sporting events.
Athletics Directors have been quoted as saying, “Athletics can be the window or entry to learning more about a college or university.” Alumni often identify themselves as a mascot like a Golden Tiger, Spartan, Pirate, Bison, Ram, or Rattler. These mascot books do a fantastic job of building a brand loyalty with younger audiences. Whether they eventually attend the university or not, they feel connected through the shared experience of a homecoming or football game-day. This affection for the school often leads the individual becoming a lifelong fan and in many cases alumni or coveted donors.
One of Robert’s goals is to see his alma mater, Tuskegee take some risks when it comes to fundraising. As the author of “Hey Tuskegee!”, Robert would like to propose donating 20% of the profits from each book sold to support Tuskegee’s Annual Fund. All alumni, parents, friends, and fans who log on to the University’s Online Bookstore could purchase the book, moreover, boost fundraising with each purchase. Not a new concept, but clearly not a business as usual approach.
HBCU alumni are diverse and have resources or access to resources so this is just one strategy to increase overall giving and the number of individuals who give. What is critical is engaging alumni in new and innovative ways of philanthropy. This creativity should encourage alumni to copycat the idea and find their own unique ways of leveraging their resources to increase giving at Tuskegee.
Fundraising is one of the 15 key measures the U.S. News and World Report use to capture the various dimensions of academic quality at each college they rank. With over 60,000 Tuskegee alumni, it would be exciting to be a part of a movement that would seek to drastically increase alumni giving from its current 23% to a figure closer to 43% which is the percentage of alumni who give back to fellow HBCU, Claflin University.
School loyalty and pride starts the day alumni give birth to their children and the earlier alumni introduce their kids to their alma mater – the better. Alumni need to feel pride about their school and children’s “books like Hey Tuskegee! highlight what alumni love and cherish about their institutions. Fundraising is about building relationships and that connection starts early and a children’s book about your alma mater could be the right catalyst for increasing your institutions philanthropic efforts.
If you would like to learn more about Hey Tuskegee! or the HBCU’s that currently have Mascot Books, visit www.mascotbooks.com for more information.