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For Immediate Release
April 11, 2013

University Giving Trends Buck Economic Gloom

New report reveals record levels of new funds and donors; but more work to be done in individual institutions

LONDON—Despite tough economic circumstances, UK universities saw record levels of both philanthropic donors and new funds raised in 2011-12, according to the annual Ross-CASE Survey Report, the only detailed source of information on higher education philanthropic giving in the UK.

3-yr snapshot of philanthropic giving in UK universities
Three-year snapshot of philanthropic giving in UK universities (expanded graphic)

Total new funds secured by institutions—new single cash gifts and the full value of new pledges (up to five years)—rose by 14.4 percent in 2011-12 to a record amount of £774million. This is the second consecutive year that an all-time high has been reported and builds on a 10-year effort to build fundraising capacity and engage the sector more widely with philanthropy.

Numbers of both alumni and non-alumni donors also rose to record levels in 2011-12. The number of alumni making donations was up 5 percent in 2011-12, rising to almost 170,000, whereas the number of non-alumni donors rose by around 11 percent, to almost 44,000.

In addition, cash income received-single cash gifts and cash payments received against pledges secured in previous years-was also relatively stable, rising from £542million in 2010-11 to £544million in 2011-12.

However, despite these overall successes, the median (average) new funds secured and cash income received by individual institutions fell in 2011-12 compared to 2010-11. This reflects increased variation in university performance-39 percent saw an increase in new funds secured and 31 percent saw an increase in cash income, but 27 percent of reporting institutions also saw their new funds secured drop by more than 50 percent. These variations have also affected the median fundraising cost per pound received, a figure which has fluctuated since the start of the report, but which rose to 36p in 2011-12. However, with investment in fundraising often taking some years to be reflected in new funds and cash received, this figure is expected to fall again in future years.

Kate Hunter, executive director of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Europe, one of the key partners in the report, said:

"It's fantastic news that we're seeing continued growth in higher education philanthropy, despite wider economic pressures and the end of the government's Matched Funding Scheme. As giving to higher education grows, we need to ensure institutions are supported in developing this important stream of income. Analysis and sharing of best practice will be key to helping more and more universities reach their full fundraising potential."

The variations in performance shown in the report led to the Ross-CASE Survey Report exploring "communities" of universities that have a similar fundraising profile to each other for the first time.

Using the Latent Class Analysis approach revealed five different groups of universities currently in the UK:

  • Elite fundraising programmes: This group consists of just two universities-the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. For universities in this group, a higher proportion of their donors are alumni and a higher proportion of their alumni are donors.
  • Established fundraising programmes: A smaller group, at 6 percent. These institutions secure substantial levels of funds and cash, tend to receive a greater number of gifts over £500,000 and have a higher number of donors and alumni who make donations.
  • Moderate fundraising programmes: The next largest group, at 27 percent. These institutions mostly have a healthy ratio of fundraising investment per pound received, although they still only receive a small number of gifts over £500,000.
  • Emerging fundraising programmes: The biggest group, at 62 percent of those surveyed. Institutions in this group have less developed fundraising programmes and a lower return on their fundraising efforts. Only a few institutions in this group have received a gift over £500,000 in the last three years, and often their largest gift makes up a large proportion of their income.
  • Fragile fundraising programmes: Making up 4 percent of the overall total, this was the only group that spent more on fundraising activities than they received.

Tania Jane Rawlinson, director of campaigns and alumni relations at the University of Bristol and chair of the Ross Group of Development Directors, added:

"As the recent Review of Philanthropy in UK Higher Education led by Professor Shirley Pearce highlighted, the sector's approach to fundraising has been transformed over the past 10 years. Important drivers of success are clarity about an institution's identity, knowing what is realistic and sharing the learnings of those who are 'best in class.' We believe that the data provided by the Ross-CASE Survey Report, including this year's innovative new way of grouping universities, is invaluable to anyone in higher education looking to develop or improve their own fundraising programmes."

For a full version of the report, visit www.rosscasesurvey.org.uk

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For further information, contact Hollie Rendall or Rosie Mann at Kindred - 020 7010 0829/0843 or hollie.rendall@kindredagency.com / rosie.mann@kindredagency.com .

Notes to editors

1. Latent Class Analysis is a statistical approach used to class individuals or institutions into different categories according to how they answer a series of questions. Each category brings together institutions with the most similar attitudes to the selected questions. The questions used in this case were:

  • Average funds secured over the last three years
  • Average philanthropic cash income over the last three years
  • Average largest cash gift received, as a percentage of total cash income over the last three years
  • Average number of gifts over £500,000 received over the last three years
  • Average number of donors over the last three years
  • Average proportion of alumni making a gift over the last three years
  • Average fundraising investment per pound received over the last three years

2. According to the Council for Aid to Education's Voluntary Support of Education, 2012 report, charitable contributions to colleges and universities in the United States increased just 2.3 percent in 2012.

About the Ross-CASE survey and NatCen:

The Ross-CASE survey is carried out annually by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) on behalf of the Ross Group and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) in Europe. The first Ross-CASE survey was carried out in 2002 and has been repeated annually since then.

143 institutions took part in the Ross-CASE survey 2011-12, including eight further education colleges. Of the higher education institutions surveyed, 117 were based in England, 7 in Wales and 11 in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The survey of gift revenue and fundraising costs has been carried out each year since 2002 to measure the philanthropic performance of higher education and further education institutions. It is the only source of information on this subject in the UK, enabling institutions to compare themselves with their peers. It also provides an estimate of the overall impact of philanthropy on the higher education sector.
For further information, visit www.rosscasesurvey.org.uk.

About CASE

CASE believes in advancing education to transform lives and society. As a global nonprofit membership association of educational institutions, CASE helps develop the communities of professional practice that build institutional resilience and success in challenging times. The communities include staff engaged in alumni relations, fundraising, marketing, student recruitment, stakeholder engagement, crisis communications and government relations. CASE is volunteer-led and uses the intellectual capital of senior practitioners to build capacity and capability across the world.

CASE has offices in Washington, D.C., London, Singapore and Mexico City. Member institutions include more than 3,700 colleges and universities, primary and secondary independent and international schools, and nonprofit organizations in 82 countries. CASE serves nearly 88,000 practitioners. For more information about CASE, please visit www.case.org.

About The Ross Group
The Ross Group Development Directors Forum is an independent support group of senior development directors involved in fundraising for higher education. Members come from HE institutions across England, Scotland and Ireland; membership is by invitation of the group. 

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