by Matt Kupec
November 21, 2018
Fundraising at colleges and universities has become a very important source of revenue. As University leaders face increased pressure on enrollments, new program initiatives, escalating personnel and program costs, and infrastructure needs for building renovations and upgrades, philanthropic support is taking on added responsibility for helping these organizations meet their ambitious agendas..
Colleges are making more investments in their fundraising operations as they look to dramatically increase their level of private giving support. As such, we are seeing unprecedented growth in fundraising
Every year, the Council for Aid to Education releases the fundraising numbers for all institutions of higher learning. For 2017, 3,700 institutions responded to the study. Here we take a look at some of the results of the study:
- Overall Trends in Higher Education Fundraising. Here are some of the trends of higher education fundraising:
- Giving to America’s colleges rose 6 percent in 2017, lifted by a surge in giving by alumni.
- Higher education as a sector raised $43.6 billion, the largest amount ever counted by the CAE survey since it began in 1957.
- Colleges’ fundraising performed better than that for all nonprofits over all. The most recent “Giving USA,” which covered 2016, saw only a 1.4 percent increase in private support.
- In 2016, giving by alumni was down by nearly 9 percent and by 6 percent among other individuals.
- The Top 20 Universities in fundraising raised nearly $12.2 billion, or 28%, of the $43.6 billion total (see more below).
- Top 20 Colleges in Giving. Listed below are the top 20 universities in terms of the overall dollars raised. There are no surprises here as these colleges consistently rank as the top funding institutions on an annual basis. The Ivy League placed six schools in the top ten. The University of Washington at #12 is the highest fundraising public university.
|4||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||$672.94 million|
|5||University of Southern California||$668.33 million|
|6||Johns Hopkins University||$636.91 million|
|7||University of Pennsylvania||$626.49 million|
|8||Columbia University||$603.08 million|
|9||Yale University||$595.89 million|
|10||Duke University||$581.05 million|
|11||New York University||$567.12 million|
|12||University of Washington||$553.89 million|
|13||University of California-Los Angeles||$550.93 million|
|14||University of Chicago||$483.47 million|
|15||University of Michigan||$456.13 million|
|16||University of Notre Dame||$451.43 million|
|17||University of California-San Francisco||$422.17 million|
|18||University of California-Berkeley||$404.59 million|
|19||Ohio State University||$401.85 million|
|20||Indiana University||$398.26 million|
- Other Facts About the Top 20 Universities Giving.
- The top 20 colleges accounted for over 28% of the total raised by the more than 3,700 institutions surveyed. The share of the total has stayed approximately the same for several years.
- The list of top-20 colleges had only one change – Northwestern dropped from the list and was replaced by University of California at Berkeley.
- These top fundraising development offices have the highest expenditures and have the most diverse programming. Some included medical schools and hospitals.
- Sources of Giving. This chart looks at the sources of giving to higher education. Individuals account for 54.7% of the giving while organizations (corporations and foundations) account for 45.3% of all giving.
|Source||Total||% of Total|
|Non-alumni individuals||$7.86 billion||18.0%|
Top 20 Colleges by Alumni Participation in Giving, 2017. Another way that schools evaluate their fundraising performance is to look at the overall alumni giving percentage. It is generally felt that the higher the loyalty of the alumni to the school, the greater the likelihood that those alumni will make a gift back to their alma mater. It is interesting to note that only one school – Notre Dame – is in the top #20 for both overall giving and alumni participation. ND ranks #19th in alumni participation and #16th in the overall giving category:
|Rank||Institution||Alumni % Giving|
|4||College of the Holy Cross||44.1%|
|19||University of Notre Dame||35.3%|
|20||Washington and Lee University||34.5%|
- About the Author
Matt Kupec is a fundraising professional with 32 years of significant higher education development experience. He has directed three major university fundraising campaigns and nearly $5 billion has been raised under his leadership. He has led the fundraising programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hofstra University, Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and HelpMeSee, a New York City based non-profit.