Voluntary Support of Education: Trends in Alumni Giving
2018 Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) survey shows alumni contributions to U.S. colleges and universities rose 6.9 percent, reaching $12.15 billion
Based on responses to the annual VSE survey, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) estimates that alumni contributed $12.15 billion to their alma maters in 2018. That is 26 percent of all support received in that fiscal year.
Alumni gave more than any other philanthropic source except foundations, which contributed $14.01 billion or 30 percent of the total in 2018. A closer look, however, shows that some of those foundations are the family foundations of alumni, and hence some of those gifts are made possible because of individuals’ attachments to their alma maters.
Increase in Alumni Support Driven by Capital-Purpose Gifts
Much of the growth in alumni giving has been in the form of capital purpose gifts, which are gifts for endowment, property, buildings, equipment, and loan funds. This contrasts with the overall findings in the VSE survey, which show giving from all sources (including nonalumni individuals, corporations, foundations, and other organizations) was more evenly divided between capital purpose and current operations gifts.
Alumni Earmark Current Operations Gifts for Specific Purposes
When institutions report areas to which their alumni restrict current operations giving, they report the restrictions are primarily directed to three areas: student financial aid, athletic programs, and academic divisions or departments of study within a university. This pattern diverges from how other sources support higher education institution. For example, the largest percentage of the gifts from non-alumni sources are for research.
Alumni Have Been Steady Supporters of U.S. Colleges and Universities
Historically, alumni have been the largest- or second-largest source of monetary support to higher education institutions in the U.S., with overall giving closely mirroring alumni giving. Between 1988 and 2018, for instance, alumni support grew 495 percent, while total support rose 470 percent.