Texas community college fundraising : strategies for meeting future financial needs
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While the entire weakened economy has had serious implications for higher education and the public investment in the mission of community college, the literature reveals a limited amount of research regarding the types, prevalence, and accountability of more sophisticated fundraising efforts in community colleges. Community colleges are seeking to broaden their revenue generating efforts through private fundraising, alumni development, grant writing, legislative relations, and entrepreneurial partnerships similar to traditional four year higher education institutions. This study focuses on assessing and analyzing Texas public community college fundraising, especially the community colleges with the most limited financial resources and greatest student needs. The study participants included 163 presidents and fundraising professionals from the fifty Texas public community colleges, who were invited to participate in an electronic survey with 20 questions. The research also included ten semi-structured telephone interviews, triangulated with publicly-available background information and data. The research answers four questions: 1) What functions are community colleges employing for fundraising?; 2) To what extent do community colleges coordinate all of their fundraising activities?; 3) What fundraising functions or activities are most effective for community colleges?; and 4) In particular, is there a significant relationship between institutional wealth, enrollment, and/or geographic location and amount of dollars raised by the community college? Findings revealed that while small colleges have the highest institutional wealth, large colleges raise the most dollars. While the types and coordination of fundraising functions, and centralized staffing for these efforts, are limited for most Texas public community college respondents, fundraising effectiveness is most often correlated with enrollment and geographical location, board or administrative leadership, and private and grant development. The most significant finding of the study revealed that smaller size and rural location does not directly translate into lower institutional wealth, as measured by amount of dollars raised. Furthermore higher institutional wealth does not guarantee more dollars raised. The implications translate to a greater need for research on community college fundraising and accountability, assessment on equity issues, public investment in community colleges.