About CASE

Pam Russell
Senior Director of Communications


For Immediate Release
April 26, 2016

Ross-CASE Survey: Record Donations to UK Universities Outpace Donor Numbers

LONDON—UK universities raised a record level of funds through donations in the last academic year, despite donor numbers remaining relatively static.

Philanthropic income secured in new funds rose by 8 per cent to £860 million in 2014-15 while the number of donors increased by just 1.6 per cent, according to a survey of institutions presented in the latest Ross-CASE report on higher education giving in the UK.

The survey also illustrates a rise in the number of institutions securing £10m or more in new philanthropic funds and more universities breaking the £1m barrier in terms of donations.

Income and donations came fairly equally from individuals and organisations with by far the greatest proportion of income from organisations coming from trusts and foundations. Income from alumni made up the majority of individual gifts.

John Middleton, Executive Director of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Europe, which produces the report, said:

"University fundraising is based on the development of long term multi-layered relationships—particularly with alumni—as well as targeted approaches to trusts and foundations.

"That the rate of increase in new funds and pledges secured is outstripping that of donor numbers indicates the value of these relationships and shared goals.

"While educational institutions were excluded from the Etherington review of fundraising regulation, it looks likely they will be subject to the new regulatory framework when it is established.

"Care must be taken to ensure that new regulations do not make it more difficult for universities to develop strong relationships with alumni and others as this is exactly the sort of donor approach and care that the review held up as desirable."

Ross-CASE Survey 2016

In comparing survey data for the academic year 2014-15 to that of the previous year (2013-14), on a like-for-like basis, there is a:

  • 50 per cent increase in the number of donors giving their institution new funds worth more than £5 million, from eight to 12.
  • 10 per cent increase in the number of donors giving their institution new funds worth over £500,000, from 94 to 103.
  • 21 per cent increase in the number of donors giving their institution new funds worth over £100,000, from 473 to 574.
  • 8 per cent increase in the total amount of philanthropic income secured in new funds (to £860.9 million) and 14 per cent increase in total cash income received (to £756.7 million).

Total donors increased by 1.6 per cent to 232,520, with 98 per cent being individuals and 2 per cent organisations.

The total investment in alumni relations was £39 million while total investment in fundraising was £93 million in 2014-15—an increase of 7.2 per cent and 10.5 per cent since 2013-14, respectively.

"Overall the results demonstrate a healthy performance based on increased investment," said Middleton. "However, there is considerable variation between universities, with clear leaders in the field and a cluster of institutions that started their development and alumni relations programmes relatively late in the day and are catching up."

Other results from the 2014-15 academic year include:

  • The total number of gifts (new funds secured and pledges) over £100,000 was 1042.
  • Total cash income from legacies was £95.6 million, from 980 legacy donors.
  • Alumni donors constituted 79 per cent (184,293 alumni donors) of total donors.
  • Institutions classified as being 'established' fundraisers account for over 34 per cent of new funds secured and 36 per cent of number of donors, while Oxford and Cambridge account for 44 per cent of new funds secured and 32 per cent of total donors. The remaining three clusters of fundraising institutions put together account for 22 per cent of new funds secured and 31 per cent of donors.


Contact: Ben Verinder, Chalkstream Communications, 07717 506378 / 01442 851385, benverinder@chalkstreamcomms.co.uk

Notes to editors


  • Cash income received in a year includes new single cash gifts and cash payments received against pledges secured in previous years.
  • New funds secured in a year comprises both new single cash gifts and the full value (up to 5 years) of confirmed new pledges (but excludes any cash payments against pledges secured in previous years). It is often regarded as the best measure of the success of a fundraising programme in any particular year since it captures pledges that will typically be paid up over an agreed period of time (this is very characteristic of larger gifts, in particular).
  • Latent class analysis is a statistical approach used to group individuals or, in this case, universities, into different clusters (or 'communities') according to how they answer a series of questions in the survey. Each cluster brings together universities with the most similar answers to the selected questions. The 7 variables used to cluster universities were:
  • Average cash income received over last 3 years
  • Average new funds secured over last 3 years
  • Average largest cash gift received, as a percentage of total cash income received over last 3 years
  • Average number of donors over last 3 years
  • Average proportion of alumni making a gift over last 3 years
  • Average fundraising costs per pound received over last 3 years
  • Average number of fundraising staff over last 3 years (FT equivalent)
  • The figures in this release and attached infographic represent findings from both total survey participants, and where referenced as comparable or trend data, for those institutions that have taken part in the survey since 2012.

Giving to Excellence: Generating Philanthropic Support for UK Higher Education

The Ross-CASE report is annually commissioned by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) in Europe.

113 higher education institutions in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland participated in the 2014-15 survey.

The report provides an estimate of the overall impact of philanthropy on the higher education sector and is the only source of information on this subject in the UK. The 2014-15 survey was carried out by NatCen Social Research on behalf of CASE and allows participating institutions to benchmark their performance against their peers. The first survey was carried out in 2002 and has been repeated annually since then.

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.