Friday, August 23, 2013

Bowman addresses Men's Prayer Breakfast at St. Francis of Assisi

Nelson Bowman III, was the featured speaker for the Men’s Prayer Breakfast held at St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church in Prairie View on August 24, 2013 The monthly free breakfast is the church's outreach program in its 5th year for the men of the community.

Nelson is the Executive Director for Development at Prairie View A&M University, a position he has held for the past six years. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College and a Masters degree from Prairie View A&M University.

Bowman has varied experiences in financial management, fund raising and leadership. He has authored and co-authored several books and writings on Fundraising, Financial Planning, Alumni Giving and Careers in Fundraising for College Students of Color and Fundraising at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: An All Campus Approach, a select few. Some of his works have been cited in such journals as The Chronicle of Higher Education, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, International Journal of Educational Advancement, The Huffington Post and Advancing Philanthropy.

Bowman shared his personal and professional experiences with the audience and provided a guide on what the men could and should do to improve the quality of life for the next generation of men in our communities. Using his professional background, Bowman told the group about giving to support their events in the community. "African American's giving began in the churches to support all of the events," Bowman stated. "The church was the place for education in general." He also encourage the men to make a serious commitment to help build the stadium complex at the university.

Bowman holds membership in several professional , civic and social organizations including the Association of Fundraising Professional’s and the Prairie View A&M University National Alumni Association, to name a few.

The next Men's Prayer Breakfast is set for September 21 at 8:30 a.m. at the church on 204 Dooley Street, Prairie View. The speaker to be determined.

The free breakfast is open to all the men in the community and they invited to confirm their attendance by calling 936-857-3272 or by email:

See Bowman's Speech below

Presented to the Men's Prayer Breakfast at St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church on August 24, 2013

Giving to Our HBCUs

My name is Nelson Bowman, III and I work in Development at PV and have been doing so for the past 7 years. How many of you are PV grads? And how are you liking the improvements to the campus? Pretty nice and there is much more to come . . . And how many of you give back? I’ll get back to that later…In addition to my day job, I’m a husband, father and a philanthropist. I remember the first time I heard that word I had to look it up because it wasn’t exactly a part of my vocabulary. But on reading the definition, “someone who gives with a desire to benefit humanity” I thought oh yeah, I give of myself to help others in fact, I’ve been giving to the church for the majority of my life, starting when my mom said, “put that quarter in the basket . . . cause I said so!”

Today, I’m a little more sophisticated in my philanthropy and although I still tithe to the church, I’ve expanded my charitable outlets to include causes I believe in, causes that benefit Africans Americans and, one that’s very dear to me, giving to my Alma maters.

Recently, I was speaking to a potential donor and he asked me do I give to my undergrad and why? I said, “Because first and foremost I believe in the institution and the education it provides and honestly, I’m not sure where I’d be without my undergraduate degree . . . Someone paid it forward for me and I feel the need to do the same for someone behind me.”

The University President, Dr. Wright often speaks of planting trees that will one day bear fruit, well I’m one of those examples. I remember on the last day of my freshman orientation an alumnus told my group, “There are thousands and thousands of fellow graduates across the country however, there are only a few hundred alumni…the difference is, graduates get-it and go, but alumni get-it and give it back . . . what kind are you going to be?” Needless to say, I’ve been giving back ever since.

Now I’m sure you were told a similar story during your years at PV just as students at USC and TAMU are told on a regular basis but the reality is, at our HBCUs, it is much more critical to give back as collectively {all 105}, our endowments fall far short of any single Ivy League institution. Historically, we have much smaller endowment than majority institutions:

Reasons why they are lower

1. Past discrimination and discrepancy in funding at the state level; also lower corporate and foundation support

2. Lack of access to wealth on the part of African Americans, etc. but need to make the point that this rationale is not going to hold up much longer – Endowment funds are designed to assist current and future generations of students, which means these funds need to stay abreast of inflation. For those you that may not have an exact understanding of endowments, think of it like your household in which you have a checking and a savings account.

The checking account is made up of operational funds used for everyday expenses – car note, mortgage payment light bill etc… and the saving account is the endowment supposedly there for big things like college, vacations, emergencies and retirement. Well for an educational institution, endowment is a permanent fund that is never spent as only the annually interest is ever used to fund various expenses and programs.

PV’s endowment is currently valued at $57 million {which is the 2nd or 3rd largest among public HBCU's} and our endowment generates roughly $2.8 million in annual income. Compare that to a Harvard endowment at $34 billion. Now it generates $3.4 billion annually or $9.4 million a day. 2011, the University of Penn, completed a $3.5 billion Capital Campaign a year early. Comparatively, in 2007 we extended our Capital Campaign a year to ensure making our $30 million goal . . . just a slight difference, right?

Now, as a race of people, African Americans have always been philanthropic and our generosity dates back to the 1600s when we first came to this country. Now granted, most of our giving back then revolved around our time and talent as we certainly didn’t have much treasure to share however, we always demonstrated a communal notion of giving in which the entire community benefits as opposed to one individual. Unfortunately though, this type of philanthropy makes it difficult to gauge. As a result, attempting to a measure the depth and variety of AA giving especially when using traditional methods such as Giving USA’s annual report on charitable giving, it may give a false reading as our contributions may not register. This also results in AA being viewed as being on the demand side (consumers, end-user of resources) rather than the supply side (producers of resources) of the philanthropic equation.

The Good News AA give 25% more of their disposable income to charity than do white. Now understands that’s not actual dollar but rather the percentage of what we have available to give. In 2012, the Neilsen Ratings released a report that predicts the AA buying power will top 1.1 trillion in 2015. That’s trillion with a “T”. If you were to convert that to GDP, we would rank as the 16th largest country ahead of Turkey. These forecast of our ability would suggest that we have the capacity to give and give substantially. Now, there is concrete evidence of our giving and the majority of that goes to the church. 60% of our charitable donations go to religion and some of that can be attributed to pastor asking three times per service. However a more logical reason lies in the fact that for generations prior to mine, the church represented a one-stop shop. It provided our faith needs, educational, business and entertainment needs. Let’s face it . . . the church was our social network long before Facebook and Twitter.

The Bad News We do not give back to our HBCUs. On average, HBCU alumni giving percentages range between 5-12 percent. Claflin University in Orangeburg SC has the highest with 45% alumni giving. They are currently in campaign to be the first HBCU to 50% giving {PV is 8% which indicates only few of you give or will ever give back. Compare that to 24% for majority institution alumni. Now when African American alumni are asked why they don’t give, they say - “We’re not asked” {#1 reason for all alumni} – “Customer Service …it was so bad when I was there and I’m still mad” {#2 reason}– “Unequal support by the State and those big corporation and foundations over the years; they should give us more” {#3 reason} The last one kills me because, while there is a considerable amount of research that support the claim of unequal funding throughout the year, the fact remains - if we aren’t willing to give to our institutions, then why should anyone else want to?

And honestly, where would you be without your HBCU degree? I’m sure that many of you in this room didn’t have a lot of college options outside of an HBCU. Here’s a number for you – 346,500. That’s the current enrollment number for all 105 HBCUs. In the next five years, it projected that possibly 10 HBCUs will close due to lack of support. That represents approximately 34,000 students no longer having a place to go to school. You think Rice, LSU, TAMU or UCLA will open their doors and take them, probably not. 2nd– 311,850. That’s the number of enrolled HBCU students on some sort of financial aid, i.e. Scholarship, Pell Grant, Loans.

Earlier, I mentioned that I worked in Development and just to define that more clearly, my official title is Executive Director of Development. That means I work with individuals, corporations and foundations for support on behalf of PV. I attempt to match University needs with donor interest, all in an effort to improve your institution. I often tell my staff, “Our goal is to make a difference now that will last forever.”

I raise money for scholarships, which is a good thing with more than 90% of our students on some form of financial aid, I also secure support for faculty enrichment in the form of Endowed Chairs and for unrestricted use such that we can apply the funds to the greatest needs of the University.

Some of the things we’re doing that I’m so very proud and one of them is Creating a Culture of Philanthropy on campus with our students. My feeling is - I may not be able to save those that are already gone but, I have an opportunity with those on campus to educate them on the importance of giving. To me Alumni Giving Starts with students and teaching them to give now, hopefully will create Givers for Life!

In 2012, students voted to increase their fees by $10 per semester to create For Students, By Students. Based on projection, when we begin making awards in 2018 the endowment will be valued at more than $1.8 and have roughly $90k to award in scholarships. Some of you may be thinking, “that not real giving if the giving is actually a fee and is mandatory” and I agree, even though they have the option of opting-out that’s not true philanthropy. So, we decided to go a step further and create a Student Giving Campaign. One in which the students would have to make a conscience decision to reach into their pockets to make a gift. Now the goal is participation not necessarily dollars raised as the idea is to teach the importance of giving. Statistics show that one of the best predictors of future are those that have previously given. So the whole creating Givers for Live makes sense, right?

Last year we achieved 15% overall participation – that’s among all students. However among freshman, we achieved 60% participation . . . Wow, that’s pretty impressive. So much so that our program has been featured in three major publications – the Huffington Post, Houston Chronicle and Diverse Issues. Just recently, my Annual Fund manager and two students presented on our Student Giving program at the C.A.S.E conference. We were 1 of only three schools asked to present and the only HBCU.

Another component of Creating a Culture of Philanthropy is our student run Call Center. Last July, we secured a $100,000 grant to open a permanent, on-campus call center. The call center is equipped with the latest greatest technology allowing students to interact with alumni. Student contact alumni and constituents across the country requesting support and this past July, they contact some 11,000 donors just to say Thank You! This activity give them an opportunity to participate in the philanthropic process and to understand their responsibility to University once they're no longer on campus. I think we’re doing some great things and our future looks bright.

As I close, I’d like for you to consider getting involved or becoming more involved. As Billie Holiday said, “God Bless the Child that Has Its Own and at Prairie View, we would certainly like for you to come and join us… Again, I’m Nelson Bowman.

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