Fundraising and Advancement: the DEI Dilemma


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

“People have been doing this work for years and didn’t call it DEI [Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion],” said Dr. Sybil Hampton speaking on the topic “Undoing Racism in Fundraising and Advancement” in Guerry Auditorium on Jan. 11. The convening of Jessie Ball duPont Fund higher education recipients brought together funding awardees from institutions across the nation to tackle the challenge of “Catalyzing Change: Frameworks for Repairing Histories of Racial Inequity.”

As a high school student, Hampton followed on the heels of the Little Rock Nine, enrolling as a sophomore in the second class to integrate Central High School following the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. For three years not one student spoke to her. Hampton endured isolation and being spat on to return to Little Rock, Ark., 30 years later to serve as the president of Little Rock’s largest private philanthropic institution, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. For her work in higher education and philanthropy, she was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame and several times named one of Arkansas Top 100 Women. Hampton’s personal journey and career experiences read like a playbook for those engaged in the difficult task of finding funders, whether they be students, community project leaders, or members of a university fundraising and advancement team.

“There is a limited amount of money,” Hampton stressed. “Fit is everything.” She insisted on the importance of doing research to find the “fit where the magic happens” and on personal interaction with potential funders who may offer guidance rather than money. “[As a funder] the more I know about you, and the better you make me feel, the easier it is to talk,” Hampton pointed out.

She offered a unique brand of encouragement, coupling hope and perseverance — “Because people don’t value your work doesn’t mean you can give up.” Citing personal experience where she was always in a role where she was either “the only woman or only brown person,” Hampton said, “I knew what they said about me wasn’t true, and I produced what they needed. That didn’t mean I didn’t have my own agenda, but it was embedded in the institution.”

“You need to get clear how you want to talk about your work so people don’t feel like they’re investing in the ‘other,”’ Hampton said, “to find words to describe what you’re doing that’s not DEI.”

Hampton’s formula: “People invest in things they feel they have ownership of.” She gave several examples. A project that wanted to tell the story of Japanese Americans in Arkansas during WWII engaged high school computer and technology students and received funding from a local business. A project hoping to aid the more than 5,000 Arkansas children with parents in prison seized on the idea of producing a documentary of women in prison shackled to their beds when giving birth; notably, most of the women featured in the film were not people of color. A university with a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students garnered alumni financial support when an article in the alumni magazine focused on the six-week summer orientation program for these students.

“You need to show the outside what’s going on, to be able to tell the story,” Hampton said, “to make them part of what people own in an institution … [to show them] the mirror.” Seventy-nine-year-old Hampton attributed her success to not “giving up” and being able “to forgive.”

2024 February
2024 January
2023 December
2023 November
2023 October
2023 September
2023 August
2023 July
2023 June
2023 May
2023 April
2023 March
2023 February
2023 January
2022 December
2022 November
2022 October
2022 September
2022 August
2022 July
2022 June
2022 May
2022 April
2022 March
2022 February
2022 January
2021 December
2021 November
2021 October
2021 September
2021 August
2021 July
2021 June
2021 May
2021 April
2021 March
2021 February
2021 January
2020 December
2020 November
2020 October
2020 September
2020 August
2020 July
2020 June
2020 May
2020 April
2020 March
2020 February
2020 January
2019 December
2019 November
2019 October
2019 September
2019 August
2019 July
2019 June
2019 May
2019 April
2019 March
2019 February
2019 January
2018 December
2018 November
2018 October
2018 September
2018 August
2018 July
2018 June
2018 May
2018 April
2018 March
2018 February
2018 January
2017 December
2017 November
2017 October
2017 September
2017 August
2017 July
2017 June
2017 May
2017 April
2017 March
2017 February
2017 January
2016 December
2016 November
2016 October
2016 September
2016 August
2016 July
2016 June
2016 May
2016 April
2016 March
2016 February
2016 January
2015 December
2015 November
2015 October
2015 September
2015 August
2015 July
2015 June
2015 May
2015 April
2015 March
2015 February
2015 January
2014 December
2014 November
2014 October
2014 September
2014 August
2014 July
2014 June
2014 May
2014 April
2014 March
2014 February
2014 January
2013 December
2013 November
2013 October
2013 September
2013 August
2013 July
2013 June
2013 May
2013 April
2013 March
2013 February
2013 January
2012 December
2012 November
2012 October
2012 September
2012 August
2012 July
2012 June
2012 May
2012 April
2012 March
2012 February
2012 January
2011 December
2011 November
2011 October
2011 September
2011 August
2011 July
2011 June
2011 May
2011 April
2011 March
2011 February
2011 January
2010 December
2010 November
2010 October
2010 September
2010 August
2010 July
2010 June
2010 May