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Ross-CASE Survey Shows Increased Higher Ed Giving Prior to Worst of the Recession

Giving to universities in the United Kingdom grew by 28 per cent to £682 million in 2007-2008, according to the Ross-CASE Survey.

The survey is the only source of information on higher education philanthropic fundraising in the United Kingdom. It is part of an annual survey commissioned on behalf of the Ross Group of Development Directors and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education in Europe. The National Centre for Social Research conducted the study.

Key findings:

  • In total, UK universities secured £682 million in new philanthropic funds in 2007-08. This was a growth of £151 million since the 2006-2007 study.
  • £143 million would have been eligible for the government matched funding scheme introduced in 2008-09.
  • Twenty-seven universities in a fundraising, capacity-building scheme increased their development revenue by a median of 22 per cent during the last year.
  • Alumni donations accounted for 82 per cent of all donations to higher education institutions in 2007-08.
  • The year-on-year increase in the number of donors giving to higher education in the UK is 144,000, up 12 per cent on the year before and up 32 per cent over two years.

The survey covers the academic year 2007-08, before the worst months of the recession in the UK. It was also the final academic year prior to the launch of the UK government's £200 million, three-year matched funding scheme for England.

Joanna Motion, CASE vice president for international operations, said the year-on-year increase in the number of donors giving to higher education in the UK is striking and encouraging.

"More and more universities are nurturing a culture of philanthropy. Next year, when we see the impact of matched funding schemes in England and Wales, there will be a welcome boost to fund the transformational work of our higher education institutions," Motion said. "This report shows we are at a crossroads in the UK as giving to universities is no longer seen as the preserve of the wealthy. It's steadily becoming something ordinary people do as universities become more professional in their engagement with alumni and supporters."

The matched funding scheme was introduced on 1 August 2008. Funding is available to match eligible gifts raised by English higher education institutions and directly funded further education colleges. Participation in the annual Ross-CASE Survey is a condition of entering the scheme.

Peter Agar, director of development at Cambridge University and chair of the Ross Group, said: "The findings of this survey demonstrate the growing importance of philanthropy in higher education in the UK and the high returns to the investments being made across the sector in professional fundraising. Importantly, alumni are increasingly recognising their role in sustaining the excellence of their alma maters, particularly as we face pressures on public funding."

This article is from the November 2009 issue of BriefCASE.