Nelson Bowman III is the Regional Managing Director, Southwest at U.S. Fund for UNICEF. As the Regional Manager, he is responsible for developing and expanding fundraising strategies for the seven states that make up the southwest region. Prior to joining UNICEF, earlier this year, Nelson served as executive director of development at Prairie View A&M Universitywhere he oversaw the successful completion of the University’s first capital campaign of $30 million.
Bowman is an avid researcher on topics such as engaging diverse alumni and Black colleges fundraising and has presented on these subjects at several major conferences. Along with co-author Dr. Marybeth Gasman, he has written three books, Unearthing Promise and Potential - Our Nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities; A Guide to Fundraising at Historically Black College and University - An All Campus Approach and, Engaging Diverse College Alumni - The Essential Guide to Fundraising.
A native of Houston, Bowman joined Prairie View A&M in 2005, following a fifteen-year career in corporate management. He completed his formal development training at the Center on Philanthropy, and in 2006 he received a Certificate in Fundraising Management.
The Morehouse College graduate earned a B.A. in Business Management and earned his Master’s in Community Development from Prairie View A&M. He is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
What was your first experience with philanthropy?
At an early age I was told, “It’s about giving back to something greater than myself.” I can remember every Sunday having to take a quarter up and put it in the basket for offering at my church. Although, as a youngster, I could think of many things to do with that quarter, I quickly learned that giving back is just the right thing to do.
Beside Children’s rights, what other issues are you passionate about?
Higher education, which is evidenced through my time spent working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, drives my passionate as it relates to people of color obtaining higher education. Whereas I think we’ve come a long way in our nation’s ability to provide higher education to people of color, sustaining and growing these opportunities for our future minority leaders of tomorrow, isn’t where it needs to be.
I am also passionate about exposing people of color to the field of fundraising as there’s such a dearth of us in the industry. Looking at the demographic population projections, there is something to be said about having trained, professional fundraisers that look like our future donors to address their philanthropic passions.
What is the best advice for a new person entering into the field of fundraising?
1) Identify where your passion lies, e.g. education, healthcare, humanitarian and follow your heart. 2) Choose an organization whose mission aligns with you principles and values. 3) Its not always who you know, it’s who knows you.
What do you do to disconnect and/or find balance?
I like to travel, spend time with family, and good cigars. When not working, I truly try to disengage so that I can come back refreshed & recharged.
What has been your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment is being given the opportunity to introduce the profession of fundraising to people of color. As I previously stated, this is one of my passions, and my 10+ years in fundraising has allowed me mentor and propel some great individuals into our industry.
What has been your most challenging obstacle?
My greatest obstacle, and it has been one for a while, is convincing majority institutions that it takes more than strategic discussions to diversify the field of fundraising. We need action items and measurable goals to ensure that we are truly shifting and influencing a change in fundraising professional demographics.
If I ran into someone on the street who knows you well, what are 3 things they would say about you?
1) Nelson loves being a fundraiser!
2) Keep your wallet close! (He can talk anybody into making an impact philanthropically)
3) Nelson says what he means and means what he says.