About CASE

Pam Russell
Director of Communications


For Immediate Release
April 3, 2008

Survey Shows Growing Dissatisfaction among Small Colleges with Trustees' Fundraising Knowledge, Involvement

Lack of Training, New Donor Solicitations Cited

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Despite the growing importance of private giving to higher education, knowledge about fundraising is lacking among trustees, according to a new survey of small and mid-size colleges in the United States.

Just one percent of college leaders surveyed believe their board members are well-grounded in the basics of fundraising, according to Advancing Small Colleges: A Benchmarking Survey Update. By contrast, a previous survey from 1997-98 showed that 13 percent of trustees were considered well-versed. The survey update was produced by the Council of Independent Colleges and CASE and was released in March 2008 by CASE.

This is a growing issue among the nation's smaller colleges, which tend to have modest endowments and rely heavily on current gift income and tuition revenue to manage financially, according to survey editor and project leader Wesley Willmer, vice president of university advancement at Biola University in La Mirada, Calif.

A simple solution might be found in better training, Willmer suggests. While colleges can't make individual trustees wealthier or more generous, they can provide opportunities for board members to become familiar with the basics of good fundraising practices, he adds.

"If college presidents and development staff are unhappy with the board members' understanding of fundraising, they should take the initiative to get them trained," he says.

The survey sheds light on advancement activity that is intended to help small colleges reach strategic goals and connect with alumni and friends, government policy makers, communities and donors. The survey, now covering 30 years, analyzes CIC member institutions every seven years, tracking advancement trends among colleges with enrollments under 5,000.

The survey also found:

  • Gifts received for endowments grew by 50 percent during the last seven years to an average $1.61 million in fiscal year 2005, up from $1.1 million in fiscal year 1998
  • Spending on fundraising nearly doubled to an average budget of $916,560 in 2005, up from $362,233 in 1998
  • Institutions with 500 or fewer full-time students relied less on tuition income to fund their budgets in 2005, when tuition supported 50 percent of overall expenditures, down from 64 percent in 1998
  • A fairly high level of dissatisfaction concerning trustee's performance in advancement activities, particularly in areas including making financial contributions, soliciting new donors and referring donor prospects

About CASE

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is a professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals who work on their behalf in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and allied areas.

CASE was founded in 1974 and maintains headquarters in Washington, D.C., with offices in London (CASE Europe, 1994), Singapore (CASE Asia-Pacific, 2007) and Mexico City (CASE América Latina, 2011).

Today, CASE’s membership includes more than 3,670 colleges and universities, primary and secondary independent and international schools, and nonprofit organizations in more than 80 countries around the globe. This makes CASE one of the world’s largest nonprofit educational associations in terms of institutional membership. CASE serves nearly 81,000 advancement practitioners on the staffs of its member institutions and has more than 17,000 professional members on its roster.

To fulfill their missions and to meet both individual and societal needs, colleges, universities and independent schools rely on—and therefore must foster—the good will, active involvement, informed advocacy and enduring support of alumni, donors, prospective students, parents, government officials, community leaders, corporate executives, foundation officers and other external constituencies.

CASE helps its members build stronger relationships with all of these constituencies by providing relevant research, supporting growth in the profession and fostering support of education. CASE also offers a variety of advancement products and services, provides standards and an ethical framework for the profession and works with other organizations to respond to public issues of concern while promoting the importance of education worldwide.

About the Council of Independent Colleges
The Council of Independent Colleges is the major national service organization for all small and mid-sized independent, liberal arts colleges and universities in the United States. CIC assists members working to support college and university leadership, advance institutional excellence, and enhance private higher education's contributions to society.