U.S. colleges and universities raised a combined $40.3 billion in fiscal year 2015, with Stanford and Harvard universities each surpassing $1 billion ($1.63 billion and $1.05 billion, respectively).
The total sum—self-reported by higher-education institutions, with the Council for Aid to Education estimating those that did not respond—not only increased 7.6 percent from 2014, but also broke the record for the Voluntary Support of Education survey, for which the New York City-based nonprofit has collected data annually since 1957.
The top 20 institutions make up less than 1 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities, but are responsible for 28.7 percent of the total donations. University of Southern California ($653.03 million), University of California—San Francisco ($608.58 million) and Cornell University ($590.64 million) rounded out the top five schools.
Alumni giving increased 10.2 percent to $10.85 million while non-alumni contributed $8 million, a 23.1 percent increase, according to the survey. Foundation giving rose 3.6 percent to $11.6 million, but giving from both corporations and other organizations fell slightly.
Funds directed toward operations increased 13.1 percent to $24.65 million while capital purposes equaled 2014’s total of $15.65 million. The survey indicated the lack of movement for capital uses was due to 2014’s steep growth of 23.3 percent and a weaker stock market performance, which correlates with those contributions.
“Donors want to be confident that the institution to which they transfer such assets can steward them effectively,” Ann Kaplan, the survey’s director, told Bloomberg Business. “That means an institution that receives gifts to the endowment must have a track record of good returns on endowment assets.”
|Top College Fundraisers|
|1.||Stanford University||$1.63 billion|
|2.||Harvard University||$1.05 billion|
|3.||University of Southern California||$653.03 million|
|4.||University of California—San Francisco||$608.58 million|
|5.||Cornell University||$590.64 million|
|6.||Johns Hopkins University||$582.68 million|
|7.||Columbia University||$552.68 million|
|8.||Princeton University||$549.84 million|
|9.||Northwestern University||$536.83 million|
|10.||University of Pennsylvania||$517.20 million|
|11.||University of California—Los Angeles||$473.21 million|
|12.||Duke University||$472.01 million|
|13.||University of Washington||$447.02 million|
|14.||University of Chicago||$443.79 million|
|15.||Yale University||$440.81 million|
|16.||New York University||$439.66 million|
|17.||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||$439.40 million|
|18.||University of Michigan||$394.31 million|
|19.||University of Notre Dame||$379.87 million|
|20.||University of California—Berkeley||$366.12 million|
|Source: Council for Aid to Education 2015 Voluntary Support of Education survey|
Four of the top 20 institutions received gifts of $100 million or more. Eight in all, they totaled $1.44 billion. Stanford led with four of these gifts, including 121 pieces of art, valued at $600 million, that a family of art collectors gave to the university in two separate donations for a gallery that opened in 2014, and two approximately $100-million cash donations toward its medical center, according to Bloomberg Business.
“Increasingly, people are looking to the research university in this country to help resolve some of the intractable problems that are facing human kind,” Martin Shell, who oversees Stanford’s fundraising, told Bloomberg Business. “Universities are seen as positive agents of change and people want to be part of that.”
In addition, Northwestern University obtained two major gifts—a $100-million gift from Roberta Buffett (sister of Warren Buffet) for the creation of the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies and another gift (technically composed of a $92 million gift and smaller donations that totaled $117.8 million) from alumni Louis Simpson and his wife, Kimberly Querrey, for the Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center. Princeton University obtained about 2,500 rare books and manuscripts, valued at $300 million, that philanthropist William H. Scheide left after his death and the University of California—San Francisco received a $100-million gift from Charles F. Feeney for its new Mission Bay hospitals.
The survey predicted giving to increase slightly for 2016’s survey, which will cover July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016.
“On average, more than a third of the contributions to any given college come from 12 large gifts, and such gifts are often in the form of appreciated securities,” according to the survey. “Therefore, the stock market plays a key role. Its 2015 calendar-year performance—representing the first half of the 2016 fiscal year—does not bode well for contributions. However, the end of the fiscal year is still five months away, and the state of the market then remains to be seen.”