Record-Breaking Fundraising Fiscal Year Benefits Morehouse College

By Lilac Burrell, Managing Editor

Through the 2019-2020 fiscal year, Morehouse College raised more funds than any other year in its 154-year history. In a single year, President David Thomas and the Office of Institutional Advancement worked to increase institutional fundraising by approximately 500%. That fiscal year more than ever, Morehouse College has shown its dedication to its mission to support its students and faculty.


A total of 5,366 benefactors and an 18% alumni participation resulted in $107,163,868 gifted to the college. Highlights include $261,300 raised for COVID-19 Student Emergency Funds, a $1,124,266 donation sum from Giving Tuesdays on December 3, 2019, and May 5, 2020 and a whopping $3,581,720 earned at the “Candle in the Dark” Gala in 2019.


These highlights do not include the $34 million inaugural gift from the Robert Smith Foundation; the establishment of the $40 million Dr. Michael L. Lomax Student Success Scholarship program by philanthropists Patty Quillin and Reed Hastings; and a $13 million gift from the Oprah Winfrey Foundation that expanded Morehouse’s largest endowment to a total of $25 million.


Despite common perception, donations and monetary gifts aren’t given to Morehouse solely because of Morehouse’s esteem. There’s an important human element involved, too. Monique Dozier, Vice President for Institutional Advancement & Chief Advancement Office; James E. Shaw, Interim Director, Corporate and Foundation Relations; and other members of the Office of Institutional Advancement have been instrumental in Morehouse’s 2019-2020 financial leaps.


The Office of Institutional Advancement allocates significant effort to build, maintain, and strengthen relationships with benefactors and donors. Morehouse benefactors include alumni, faculty, corporate, and foundation contributions.


After seeing frequent donations to Morehouse over this past year, it is easy to ask, “Where does the money go?” and “How will this impact student life?” The answers lie in the fund’s objectives, be they restricted, unrestricted, endowment, or capital.


Eighty percent of fundraising objectives from the 2019-2020 financial year have been restricted. Those funds are allocated to specific projects and/or initiatives that the benefactor chooses. Those funds have gone toward student scholarship programs and financial aid.


The 2019-2020 Annual Giving Impact report illustrates how restricted funds impact students. Of 2,321 enrolled students, 94% in 2019-2020 received financial aid from Morehouse. Nearly 60% of those students came from households that earn less than $40,000 per year. In the shape of scholarship programs, restricted funds from benefactors support students through their matriculation. This ensures more Morehouse students may graduate without debt.


While restricted funds are useful in alleviating some student debt, there must be a priority in garnering unrestricted funds. Unrestricted funds are allocated to the institution’s operational and infrastructural needs. Unrestricted funds would give Morehouse the freedom to invest in campus beautification like renovating dorms and academic buildings or building new recreational spaces and lounges.


After students were evacuated from campus in March during the wake of COVID-19, Morehouse’s first step was transitioning learning to a virtual setting. That adjustment caused important unmet student needs.


In response, Morehouse associates and alumni contributed to the Student Emergency Fund that raised $261,300 to alleviate problems that arose from the unforeseen pandemic. Of that fund, 70% was applied to students’ housing and food insecurity, 14% addressed technology challenges and another 14% was applied to financial challenges. The donors showed with their actions the impact of Morehouse’s brotherhood and network.


Fundraising efforts through the 2019-2020 financial year have exemplified Morehouse, benefactor, and alumni dedication to the Morehouse mission. Despite external challenges and through 154 years, Morehouse College has been steadfast in providing development and discipline to all people who call the House their home.