Fundraising and Endowment Resilience: Lessons for Leaders
There are hopeful signs that the U.S. may be emerging from the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic. While commencement exercises for the class of 2021 look far from normal, widespread access to the vaccine for individuals 16 and over likely means that classes will be returning to classrooms and students will be returning to campuses in the fall. The degree to which the past year’s forced transition to online learning will inform instructional practice going forward remains unclear. That the pandemic will create lingering financial challenges for colleges and universities is more probable. Declines in domestic and international enrollment, new costs, and increased student need created serious financial challenges for many institutions. Fortunately, institutions were not forced to radically curtail endowment spending at the same time. After precipitous declines in the first quarter of 2020, investment markets quickly rebounded and continued to grow, enabling sustained endowment spending. The market rebound also contributed to sustained philanthropic support which correlates closely to market performance.
These factors make it an ideal time for boards and administrations to pause and assess endowment spending policies which may have been neglected through a long period of sustained growth and focus on building endowment value though new gift flows.
Over the past year CASE has conducted research about ways institution leaders and boards were responding to the challenges posed by the pandemic and examining patterns of resilience during the current crisis, as well as in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008.
“Fundraising and Endowment Resilience: Lessons for Leaders” provides an overview of findings from surveys of college and university board members and chief advancement officers, analyses of Voluntary Support of Education data examining fundraising resilience and recovery patterns in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, as well as questions boards and advancement leaders should be asking about endowment stewardship policies and practices and recommendations to sustain fundraising and endowment growth in the years ahead.
Much of the work presented here was generously supported by Strategic Investment Group. Case appreciates their support and their collaboration as a thought partner. Thanks to The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges which collaborated with CASE and SIG on surveys of board members and chief advancement officers.