cg news

Economic Crises, Community Colleges, and Donor Reactions

By C. Ray Clements,
CG Founder, CEO, and Managing Member

Given the current state of economic affairs facing our country, it is understandable that there is fear and trepidation regarding the possible impact to community colleges and their prospective donors. The nightly news touts the ongoing decline in the stock market; the newspapers paint a picture of gloomy financial outlooks and despair; you may even know friends and family who are on the brink of panic. It’s no wonder, then, that there is an inherent belief that giving levels will automatically decline as a result of economic conditions.

Historically, however, that is not the case! The only year giving went down from one year to the next over the last 54 years was October 16, 1987; commonly referred to as "Black Monday," the stock market lost a considerable amount of its value. As a result, total giving decreased 1.3% from 1986 to 1987 but increased 7.1% in 1988.

Another historical factor related to our current crisis has been the price of oil. During the oil embargo of 1973, the stock market lost over 30.9% of its value. Giving during the year 1973 increased 4.7% over the previous year, in spite of the stock market loss. Giving during the next year (1974) increased again by 5%.

Over and over again, Americans have proven to be generous and willing to sacrifice when they have been motivated by a compelling case for support—and no cause has a more compelling case than our colleges. We know enrollments are going up while state budgets appear to be decreasing, which will likely mean budget cuts. Nonetheless, if America is to remain competitive and enjoy a significant quality of life, our colleges must have the resources required to train and upgrade the workforce of tomorrow. Statistics show that corporate America has given slightly more than 5% of the total giving each year over the past 20 years. During that same time, community/technical colleges have received 25% to 35% of their gifts during campaigns from corporate America. Continuing education is growing at a tremendous pace at our colleges, and requires significant resources as students of all ages and with varying degrees return to upgrade their skills in order to keep their current job or to obtain a new job. Our colleges must be prepared to provide relevant, state-of-the-art, educational opportunities, or the jobs will go elsewhere.

The Clements Group made a decision many years ago to focus our efforts on assisting community/technical colleges in achieving their goals of providing a quality transfer education, workforce development, developmental education, and continuing education. We are "true believers" in the role of two-year colleges in changing lives and changing communities, as well as changing people’s lives forever for the better.

For additional information on how the Clements Group can assist your institution, please contact Johna Strader, Director of Marketing Support Services, at 1-801-355-0450 x 1.