Giving to Colleges and Universities Reaches Record High

The Council for Aid to Education (CAE) recently released findings from their annual Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) survey. The report, which covers giving to higher educational institutions’ fiscal years, mainly from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, indicated that giving to colleges and universities hit a record $40.3 billion. This is good news indeed as these figures are based on reports of actual giving rather than econometric models, representative samplings and other predictive modeling methodologies underlying many other popular reports on giving trends.

Highlights from the report:

The top 20 fundraising institutions together raised 28.7 percent of the total. Stanford University topped the list with $1.63 billion, the most ever reported on the VSE survey. Harvard University followed, raising $1.05 billion.

Gifts from alumni and non-alumni individuals increased 10.2 percent and 23.1 percent, respectively. Gifts from foundations, including family foundations, increased 3.6 percent, while corporate giving was flat. Gifts from other types of organizations fell 1.2 percent. Gifts for current operations grew 13.1 percent, a higher rate than gifts for capital purposes, which remained flat.

According to Ann Kaplan, director of VSE and Data Miner for CAE, the amount of gifts in the form of bequests and irrevocable deferred gifts will not be available until the final report is published later this spring. Most recent figures for the 2013-2014 VSE report indicate that bequests grew 17 percent from the prior year and the present value of deferred gifts were up 11 percent.

In 2015, eight gifts of $100 million or more were reported, totaling $1.44 billion, up from $698.55 million in 2014. All eight gifts were for four institutions, all of which are among the 20 institutions that raised the most in 2015.

Last year was the fifth consecutive year in which giving to higher education increased. Some have expressed concern that this trend may slow in 2016. As the economy plays a key role in giving results, continued growth may depend upon the pace of economic recovery this year.

Click here to order the complete report. Sharpe Group will follow up with more information from the report, including how fundraising from planned gifts fared in 2015, as soon as that information is available. ■

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