“I hope, for instance, that a large proportion of you-in fact all of you-will make it a practice to give something yearly to this institution. If you cannot give but twenty-five cents, fifty cents, or a dollar a year, I hope you will put it down as a thing that you will not forget, to give something to this institution every year. We want to show to our friends who have done so much for us, who have supported this school so generously, how much interest we take in the institution that has given us so nearly all that we possess. I hope that every senior, in particular, will keep this in mind. I am glad to say that we have many graduates who send us such sums, even if small, and one graduate who for the last eight or ten years has sent us ten dollars annually.”-“Sunday Evening Talk,” Booker T. Washington
Presidential Commentary by Dr. Brian Johnson
When potential donors inquire with an institution concerning its alumni giving participation, the percentage of total alumni giving, not the amount of alumni giving, is the foremost consideration. Even if a single alumnus gives $1M per year, the following questions are immediately begged: What is the giving and interest level of the thousands of remaining alumni that the institution has graduated? Was this a single aberration? Is giving limited to the eminently successful alumni? Or does it extend from small to great-all of whom are recipients of Tuskegee Institute (University) baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate degrees? And interest level goes well beyond public professions of love for one’s alma mater “our nourishing mother,” but the expression of this love in tangible gifts and donations. Mr. Washington, founding principal and president, understood this well when he spoke the following to students who would become future alumni during one of hisSunday evening talks: “We want to show to our friends…how much interest we take in the institution that has given us so nearly all that we possess.” Although the sons and daughters of Booker and Mother Tuskegee are the institution’s most precious value claim to the world-its most precious commodity-the gifts of those interested, including alumni, in the advancement of the institution are what established-and continues to establish-Tuskegee Institute (University’s) reputation as one of the finest campuses and strongest academic destinations in the nation and the world. Friend-raising and fundraising begins at home. And if those who are most intimately familiar with and profess support or love for the institution will not give to it, why would a stranger who is not familiar with and professes no support or love for the institution give to it? Thus consistent giving whether small or great, regularly (monthly or annually), from 100% of graduated students or as Mr. Washington pronounced, “all of you,” is the clearest indicator of alumni strength.
Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.
7th President, Tuskegee University