Warren Averett interviewed Marybeth Gasman, Director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and leading authority on HBCUs. Our focus is on the key challenges facing HBCUs as it relates to the cultivation of donors and fundraising in general. WA: With so many grant programs out there to fund student education and research and development programs at institutions, why is fundraising so important? MG: Fundraising is the most important factor for long-term sustainability. Studies have shown that institutions with large endowments and active alumni giving programs are less likely to have problems with accreditation, student retention, leadership and faculty satisfaction. WA: What can institutions start doing today to build a significant fundraising operation? MG: I suggest four areas to focus on 1) cultivate black fundraisers, 2) teach students about philanthropy, 3) partner with community organizations and 4) study the changing agendas of funders. WA: What do you mean by cultivating black fundraisers? MG: The key is to introduce fundraising as a career to students that have an interest in HBCUs. They will understand the environment and the needs of African American alumni. We need to teach students to give back to their institution early on, start at new student orientation. WA: There seems to be a great deal of emphasis placed on collaboration and partnering by community organizations. How can that help with HBCU fundraising? MG: The funding community values partnerships because they bring together common strengths and opportunities for creative thinking. HBCUs should also make connections with the agendas of public and private funders. These groups want to see how HBCUs respond to and lead major trends in higher education.  We appreciate Marybeth Gasman’s experience and insight in this area. “The Changing Face of Historically Black Colleges and Universities” is the first report issued by the Penn Center for MSIs and illustrates where HBCUs fit within the shifting landscape of U.S. Higher Education. The report focuses on three key areas: students, leadership and fundraising. Read the entire report here.