About CASE

Pam Russell
Director of Communications


For Immediate Release
Jan. 28, 2013

Predicted Growth Signals Return to Pre-Recession Levels of Giving to Higher Education

Washington, D.C.—Fundraisers for colleges and universities estimate that giving to their institutions grew 5.5 percent in 2012 and predict additional growth of 5.8 percent in 2013, according to survey results released by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

"If the initial estimate for 2012 holds true, giving to higher education will have exceeded the high watermark set just prior to the recession," said CASE President John Lippincott. "This is very good news."

Giving to higher education reached a record $31.6 billion for the 2007-08 academic year before a steep decline attributable to the global economic downturn. Donations gradually recovered to reach $30.3 billion in 2010-11, according to the Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) report issued by the Council for Aid to Education.

The predicted growth rate of 5.8 percent for higher education institutions in 2013 is equal to the average annual growth rate for the past 20 years, based on VSE figures.

Graph: The predicted growth rate of 5.8 percent for higher education institutions in 2013 is equal to the average annual growth rate for the past 20 years.

The CASE Fundraising Index, or CFI, is conducted twice a year and asks fundraising professionals to estimate the level of charitable giving to their institutions for the 12-month period just ended and to predict the level for the 12 months ahead.  

In addition to fundraising estimates for colleges and universities (public and private, two-year and four-year), the CFI includes estimates for pre-collegiate independent (private) schools.

The independent school respondents estimated an increase of 5.7 percent in fundraising for 2012 and predicted an increase of 4.4 percent in 2013. 

The 5.6 percent growth in giving estimated for all institution types at the close of 2012 is 1 percent higher than the 4.6 percent growth fundraisers predicted at its beginning, said Lippincott.

"The increased optimism among fundraisers may reflect a number of factors, including what they are hearing directly from donors about their growing confidence in the economy," Lippincott said.

"Another factor contributing to the uptick in giving in 2012 may have been donor concern about federal government proposals to reduce the value of the charitable tax deduction during the 'fiscal cliff' negotiations," he added. "We heard anecdotally that some donors made major gifts in late 2012 to ensure that they received the full tax benefit of their philanthropy.

"Thankfully, the proposed reductions were not adopted.  The charitable tax deduction remains linked to the donor's marginal tax rate, which has been critically important to our strong tradition of philanthropic support of education in the United States," Lippincott said.

Lippincott noted that fundraisers at public institutions of higher education were generally more optimistic looking both back at 2012 and forward in 2013 than their counterparts at private institutions.

"Fundraisers at community colleges were the most optimistic of any group, predicting a 7 percent increase for 2012 and a 6.8 percent increase for 2013," he added. "Many community colleges began investing in their fundraising programs only recently, and they are now beginning to see strong returns on those investments."

Graph: Fundraisers at community colleges were the most optimistic of any group, predicting a 7 percent increase for 2012 and a 6.8 percent increase for 2013. 

Lippincott stressed that the CFI percentages are averages and that performance at individual institutions will vary based on a variety of factors, such as the maturity of the fundraising program and whether or not the institution is in a campaign.

Lippincott said the CFI is intended to complement work being done by other organizations that provide detailed analyses of giving based on actual results reported several months after the close of the calendar or academic year. It is also intended to help fundraisers set preliminary benchmarks for past and future performance.

The CFI is based on an online survey of senior-level fundraising professionals at more than 2,100 CASE-member institutions in the United States conducted during the first weeks of January. The January 2013 CFI survey had a response rate of 11.7 percent. Results of the CFI since its inception in July 2008 and resources related to the charitable deduction can be found on the CASE website.

The 20-year average growth rate for giving to education is based on the Council for Aid to Education's annual Voluntary Support of Education 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.

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