An empty school auditorium, reflecting the fear of lower enrollment in Christian higher education institutions due to COVID-19

Don’t Let Christian Higher Education Be a COVID-19 Casualty

Don’t Let Christian Higher Education Be a COVID-19 Casualty

by Bill High

There will be many casualties in the COVID-19 crisis. Some nonprofits and churches may not make it. However, hard times may not become fully evident until the fall or late 2020. That is particularly true for Christian higher education.

COVID-19 shutdowns fell in the middle of the spring semester, and accordingly fell in the middle of spring recruiting. Students tend to make their final decisions on colleges in the spring. Without those campus visits, some colleges and universities may not see the enrollment numbers they’d budgeted for. Lower enrollments mean lower revenues. Lower revenues mean budget cuts.

As part of that equation, many universities have had to refund room and board costs, which tend to be a profit center. Equally problematic, there’s little time to physically gather board members, decision makers and pivot for a new plan of attack. Questions of reserves, endowment and major gifts are all drawn into question.

What are the answers?

Decisions now. Bold aggressive action will need to be taken, including more emphasis on major donors, not just for gifts but for investment capital. The COVID-19 pandemic is not just an event but instead points out the weaknesses in a system based upon incremental growth in students.

The future for Christian higher education will ultimately rest in capital to invest in building new revenue streams, including, but not limited to, online education. Ultimately, the opportunity for innovation is unprecedented, but the time is now.



Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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Published May 15, 2020

Topics: Nonprofit Development

Christian PhilanthropyMajor DonorsNonprofit DevelopmentTrends

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