Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation


College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Leadership, School Counseling & Sports Management

First Advisor

Dr. E. Newton Jackson

Department Chair

Dr. Elizabeth Gregg

College Dean

Dr. Diane Yendol-Hoppey



Fundraising is a critical element for the success and survival of higher education institutions. These institutions are all dependent on financial contributions from alumni as well as philanthropic organizations and private benefactors to support the institution. The presidents of these institutions are instrumental in seeking and obtaining funds in order to maintain the stability of these colleges and universities. Presidents should be knowledgeable of the nuances that make an institution successful and must aim to create those environments.

The purpose of this qualitative investigation was to examine college presidents’ approaches to fundraising at selected Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs) in the South Eastern region of the United States (US). This study examined the strategies employed by these institutions and particularly their presidents. It also examined the philosophies, experiences, and fundraising strategies currently being employed by the selected college and university presidents.

In this study a blend of existing theories was used to construct the conceptual framework. Therefore, the conceptual framework addressed the cultural and social aspects of race and the role it plays in the participant’s environment through the use of Critical Race Theory and the relationship between presidents and benefactors through Social Exchange Theory. Stakeholder Theory defines those groups within an organization without whose support the organization would cease to exist (Freeman, Harrison, Wicks, Parmar, & DeColle, 2012). In this study, stakeholder theory was used to address and identify the parties that exist to support the organization such as the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, students and alumni, as well as how these stakeholders’ interests are met. Lastly, Transformational Leadership Theory was used to address the leadership elements of the participants and how they communicate their vision and strategies for their fundraising campaigns.

The results of the study, which intended to explore the experiences of presidents as they seek funds on behalf of their college or university, revealed that while the president of the institution is responsible for leading the fundraising efforts, additional entities also play a major role in the institution’s ability to successfully raise funds. Analysis of the data using a thematic approach produced themes regarding the president’s role in fundraising, the importance of messaging, fundraising strategies and barriers to fundraising. Implications for leaders of HBCUs include investing in and providing resources for the advancement office as that is the foundation for successful fundraising, actively and aggressively embracing fundraising as the primary duty in their role as president and selecting members with proven track records of giving for the Board of Trustees as they play a critical role in fundraising for the institution. Understanding the participants’ experiences and the challenges they face can greatly assist others currently in the field as well as incoming presidents as they assume the role as leaders of an HBCU institution.