Higher Education Fundraising in Tough Times

Higher Education Fundraising in Tough Times

By Tom Wilson Major Gifts Guru

Two recent articles, one in The Wall Street Journal and the other in The New York Times, highlighted fundraising challenges for higher education.

Fiscal year 2008 higher education fundraising (most fiscal year ends are June 30th, some August 31st) went well – $31.6 billion was raised, a record year. Of the 1,032 institutions who responded to a recent Council for Aid to Education survey, the top 20 received 27% of all gifts with Stanford University leading the way for the 4th year in a row at $785 million.

Stanford’s endowment fund was $17.2 billion on August 31st. The endowment fund which provides 28% of Stanford’s $3.5 billion budget is expected to decline at least 20% this year. Annual giving only provides 5% of the budget (of course that’s $175 million).

2009 is off to a rough start with many colleges and universities predicting a decline in giving. Probably worse than the nearly 4% decline in 1975 when hyper inflation was plaguing the country.

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Fundly said...

2010 wasn't much better than 2009. However, I think the financial crisis is somewhat masking other aspects of the fundraising and donations issue. People have changed the way they interact online, and that has changed the way they give.

Universities have huge dinners every year and raise money by charging $1000 or so per plate. That model has worked well for years, but it's only really targeting 10% of alumni.

There's another 90% out there who are probably willing to donate $50 or $100 per year. It's not much, but when you start getting thousands of those donations, it starts to add up.