About CASE

Pam Russell
Senior Director of Communications


For Immediate Release
Feb. 7, 2017

Behind the 2016 Voluntary Support of Education Survey Results

Statement by CASE President and CEO Sue Cunningham

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The continued growth in charitable contributions to U.S. colleges and universities, as reported in the Council for Aid to Education's latest Voluntary Support of Education report, is reason for all of us to be encouraged, especially those of us here at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education who make it our business to support and promote such giving. The record $41 billion reported will have enormous impact on the institutions and, more important, the people and communities that they serve.

The report gives us an opportunity to thank the thousands of people and institutions that are supporting U.S. higher education, and to celebrate all that this generosity is making possible. For example, donations earmarked for research—the largest share of designated funds—help spark technological innovation and medical breakthroughs, and fund myriad other types of research that are advancing humanity throughout the world.

Charitable contributions account for one-tenth of the expenditures of the colleges and universities that participated in the survey—a vital source of support. In order to safeguard the invaluable educational outcomes achieved through philanthropic support, CASE will continue to advocate for policies that encourage charitable giving.

Of particular note in this year's results is the $1.7 billion increase in contributions from foundations and corporations, a sign of the growing understanding between these entities and campuses across the country regarding how they can work together to advance similar goals.

And, while we salute the "top 20" fundraising institutions for their leadership and for another year of remarkable accomplishments, we also would note that the remaining survey participants collectively raised $29.88 billion - an amount that is also impressive and noteworthy.

It is important not to draw sweeping conclusions from one year of data. For example, although personal giving declined in 2016, as the Council for Aid to Education notes, personal giving to higher education actually grew 6.7 percent between 2014 and 2016.

All charitable giving, ultimately, is determined by people, for corporations and foundations are represented by individuals making decisions about how their organizations' funds will be used. As noted by 630 institutions, more than 40 percent of the foundation contributions were from family foundations. If those contributions were categorized instead as gifts from individuals, it would increase personal giving by more than 29 percent. Although not specified, those numbers likely also include people who also could be considered alumni, impacting that variable as well.

Similarly, some closely held companies and donor-advised funds are used by individuals to fund their personal philanthropic intentions. A subset of 223 institutions reported on those types of gifts that would have increased individual giving by 10.9 percent.

This year's results also show that direct support of student financial aid clearly remains an important donor priority, with 16.8 percent of total support being given for that purpose. Here at CASE, we are staunch advocates for the right of donors to direct their charitable contributions as they see fit, and for institutions to determine how best to spend unrestricted funds.

CASE is proud to sponsor this, the most comprehensive annual fundraising survey of U.S. colleges and universities, and thanks the Council for Aid to Education and the participating institutions for following the CASE Reporting Standards & Management Guidelines for Educational Fundraising, 4th edition. We encourage all higher educational institutions to participate in this important survey.

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.