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Pam Russell
Director of Communications


For Immediate Release
Feb. 20, 2013

Statement on the Results of the 2012 Voluntary Support of Education Survey

Statement by CASE President John Lippincott

The just-released Voluntary Support of Education survey indicates that philanthropic giving to U.S. colleges and universities grew by a modest 2.3 percent during the academic year that ended June 30, 2012.

These results suggest that giving to higher education continues its slow but steady recovery from the global economic downturn that began in 2008. For the 2007-2008 academic year, philanthropic support peaked at $31.6 billion. According to the latest VSE results, giving for the 2011-2012 academic year reached $31 billion, just shy of that record.

Historically, changes in giving to education have tended to follow trends in the overall economy. Given the slow pace of economic growth, it is not surprising that it has taken longer for philanthropic support to recover than it did following previous recessions.

However, there is reason for optimism going forward. The strong performance of the stock market in the second half of calendar year 2012, for example, supports the prediction by college and university fundraisers that giving will grow more rapidly during the 2012-2013 academic year. Those predictions, summarized in the most recent CASE Fundraising Index, suggest the strong possibility that donations in 2012-2013 will set a new record.

Even though it will have taken five or more years to return to record levels of philanthropic support, comprehensive fundraising programs remain one of the best investments colleges and universities can make. According to the CASE Advancement Investment Metrics Study, higher education receives a return of $6 for every $1 invested in its fundraising efforts.

One disturbing trend in the VSE results is a continued decline in the percentage of alumni who contribute to their alma mater. The decline can be attributed in part to a growing population of graduates and the use of family foundations as vehicles for giving. These factors notwithstanding, colleges and universities need to continue to invest in the active engagement of their graduates to ensure their active financial support.

The VSE survey is voluntary and requires participants to report their numbers following the CASE Reporting Standards & Management Guidelines for Educational Fundraising, 4th edition. The reporting standards are also the basis of the biannual CASE survey on educational fundraising campaigns.

About CASE

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is a professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals who work on their behalf in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and allied areas.