2019 Marks the 10th Consecutive Year of Growth for Voluntary Giving to Educational Institutions
A report released today by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) shows voluntary support of U.S. higher education institutions reached $49.60 billion in 2019, the highest level ever reported. Voluntary support represents charitable gifts from individuals and organizations as well as qualified grants from private foundations.
According to the CASE Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) survey data, there was a 6.1% increase in money raised during fiscal-year 2019. That marks the 10th consecutive year of growth, although the rate of growth slowed compared to the previous year.
“It is heartening to see continued growth in philanthropy to higher education. Those who give to higher education believe that education transforms lives and society, and they give to enable students to finance their educations, to support vital research and knowledge creation, and to ensure institutions are able to provide programs and services to enhance their ability to serve students and the community,” CASE President and CEO Sue Cunningham said. “We laud the efforts of advancement professionals and institutional leaders across education as they continue to work to gain vital philanthropic support so their institutions can achieve their missions.”
While the survey found that organizational giving increased, with foundations supplying the largest share, personal giving decreased in that same time period.
“We continue to watch giving trends closely given these findings. This is the first full academic year reported under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The impact on our sector is yet to be fully understood. Elements of the data in this survey provide early indications of the anticipated impact on giving as a result of this legislation. CASE continues to advocate for a universal charitable deduction, encouraging broader philanthropic engagement at every level,” Cunningham said.
Alumni giving represented nearly a quarter of total support in 2019, marking a decrease of 7.9% from the last survey period. Meanwhile, foundation support grew to 34.3% of total giving. The bulk of this increase was a single foundation contribution of $1.2 billion from Michael Bloomberg through his foundation to Johns Hopkins University. That represented most of Bloomberg’s $1.8 billion contribution to his alma mater, the remainder of which came from other Bloomberg entities, also in 2019.
This gift, to the university’s endowment, is devoted to undergraduate financial aid. Without this gift, total support to higher education would have increased only 3.4%, reaching $48.33 billion. At that level, giving would have barely kept pace with inflation.
“Restricted funds, like endowments are essential to universities’ daily operations as they cover many items like student aid, faculty salaries and infrastructure,” said Ann E. Kaplan, Senior Director of the VSE. “This ensures institutions have steady, reliable, dedicated funds to support students through aid and other ways, to enhance facilities, and to fund research, for instance.”
Other key findings from the 2019 survey data include:
- Overall growth in voluntary support is uneven by institution type with three types of institutions reporting increased support in 2019—private and public research/doctoral and public baccalaureate.
- Giving to public master’s institutions was flat. All other types of institutions reported declining gift revenue in the aggregate, though this varies by institution.
- Gifts from eight single donors to seven institutions comprised 4.5% of the total raised by all institutions. These eight gifts of $100 million or more in 2019 totaled $2.21 billion. In 2018 there were seven single donations of $100 million or more.
Throughout the year, AMAtlas, CASE’s global resource for educational advancement-related metrics, benchmarks and analytics, will be releasing research briefs that take a deeper dive into other facets of the VSE survey results. The first in this series can be accessed here. Access to more than six decades of VSE survey data is available by subscription and is free to CASE members.
This is the second year CASE has conducted the VSE after acquiring it in July of 2018. In addition to carrying on the tradition of collecting and analyzing the survey data, CASE has recently launched AMAtlas Facilitated Cohort Groups to bring together participating institutions for an in-depth analysis into the results to help members understand the stories behind the data.
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, advancement services, communications, fundraising, government relations, marketing, and student recruitment. 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 3,600 colleges and universities, primary and secondary independent and international schools, and nonprofit organizations in 82 countries. CASE serves more than 90,000 practitioners. For more information about CASE, please visit www.case.org.