About CASE

Pam Russell
Director of Communications


For Immediate Release
April 3, 2008

Survey Shows Growing Dissatisfaction among Small Colleges with Trustees' Fundraising Knowledge, Involvement

Lack of Training, New Donor Solicitations Cited

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Despite the growing importance of private giving to higher education, knowledge about fundraising is lacking among trustees, according to a new survey of small and mid-size colleges in the United States.

Just one percent of college leaders surveyed believe their board members are well-grounded in the basics of fundraising, according to Advancing Small Colleges: A Benchmarking Survey Update. By contrast, a previous survey from 1997-98 showed that 13 percent of trustees were considered well-versed. The survey update was produced by the Council of Independent Colleges and CASE and was released in March 2008 by CASE.

This is a growing issue among the nation's smaller colleges, which tend to have modest endowments and rely heavily on current gift income and tuition revenue to manage financially, according to survey editor and project leader Wesley Willmer, vice president of university advancement at Biola University in La Mirada, Calif.

A simple solution might be found in better training, Willmer suggests. While colleges can't make individual trustees wealthier or more generous, they can provide opportunities for board members to become familiar with the basics of good fundraising practices, he adds.

"If college presidents and development staff are unhappy with the board members' understanding of fundraising, they should take the initiative to get them trained," he says.

The survey sheds light on advancement activity that is intended to help small colleges reach strategic goals and connect with alumni and friends, government policy makers, communities and donors. The survey, now covering 30 years, analyzes CIC member institutions every seven years, tracking advancement trends among colleges with enrollments under 5,000.

The survey also found:

  • Gifts received for endowments grew by 50 percent during the last seven years to an average $1.61 million in fiscal year 2005, up from $1.1 million in fiscal year 1998
  • Spending on fundraising nearly doubled to an average budget of $916,560 in 2005, up from $362,233 in 1998
  • Institutions with 500 or fewer full-time students relied less on tuition income to fund their budgets in 2005, when tuition supported 50 percent of overall expenditures, down from 64 percent in 1998
  • A fairly high level of dissatisfaction concerning trustee's performance in advancement activities, particularly in areas including making financial contributions, soliciting new donors and referring donor prospects

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.

About the Council of Independent Colleges
The Council of Independent Colleges is the major national service organization for all small and mid-sized independent, liberal arts colleges and universities in the United States. CIC assists members working to support college and university leadership, advance institutional excellence, and enhance private higher education's contributions to society.