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For Immediate Release
February 11, 2019

2018 VSE Survey Finds Charitable Giving to U.S. Colleges and Universities Continuing Upward Trend

WASHINGTON, D.C. —The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is pleased to announce the results of the 2018 Voluntary Support of Education annual survey, which CASE acquired in July 2018 as part of its larger mission to build its research capacity and benchmarking services for advancement professionals worldwide.

Considered the definitive source of information on fundraising outcomes in higher education institutions in the United States, the VSE survey continues that tradition in its latest edition which was conducted with the same rigor, protocol and staff as in years past.
Another continuing trend? Charitable giving to higher education institutions is up.

According to the most recent VSE survey data, U.S. colleges and universities raised $46.73 billion in the 2017-2018 academic fiscal year, 7.2 percent more than the previous period and the highest amount ever raised by higher education institutions in the U.S.

"This year's VSE again illustrates the value placed in higher education institutions by their donors, alumni and communities. These constituents understand the important research, teaching and service provided by colleges and universities, and the results indicate unwavering commitment to the vital role these institutions play in transforming lives and society," CASE Chief Executive Officer and President Sue Cunningham said.

Among other key findings from the 2018 survey data:

  • Gifts from every type of donor increased. Notably, gifts from the category "other organizations" increased 13.5 percent, nearly double the increase from any other type of donor. This category includes fundraising consortia, religious organizations, and, significantly, donor-advised funds (DAFs).
  • A sample of 404 institutions reported on receipts from DAFs. They reported a 65.8 percent increase in amounts received from DAFs, which suggests that such increases contributed to the substantial increase in gifts from the broader category called "other organizations."
  • Giving to current operations rose 6.2 percent while giving for capital purposes rose 8.6 percent, both represent sizable increases over the previous survey period
  • Seven different institutions received gifts of $100 million or more. While several gifts were payments on previous multi-year commitments, such nine-digit gifts are rare and noteworthy. 

This year's VSE encompassed the period during which the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act went into effect, U.S. tax reform legislation adopted in December 2017. Donors, wanting to take advantage of the old tax law, may have accelerated their giving to institutions as well as to DAFs in calendar-year 2017.

"For decades, the VSE has helped inform budgets, determine priorities and offer comparative metrics for institutions large and small across the United States. Acquiring the instrument and its historical data, puts CASE in a strong position to support the advancement practice and higher education's increased focus on data-driven decision-making," said Fred B. Weiss, who joined CASE as its first-ever chief research and data officer to lead AMAtlas, a global resource for educational advancement metrics, benchmarks and analytics.

Throughout the year, AMAtlas will be releasing research briefs that take a deeper dive into one facet of the VSE survey data or another. The first in this series can be accessed here.

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.