Positive Outlook for Education Fundraising

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education's latest fundraising index may signal the return of optimism in academia. Interviews with development officers at colleges and universities showed an estimated increase in philanthropic giving during the past school year, and expectations for an even larger one over the next year.

Financial Growth

Annual Fundraising Sees Slow Growth

The times, they may be a-changing. Education fundraisers are seeing a slow increase in philanthropic giving to colleges and universities, and many predict even more growth in the upcoming year.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) just released their summer 2010 measure of the state of academic giving, the CASE Fundraising Index (CFI). The CFI is a semi-annual report based on a survey of senior fundraising professionals at CASE member institutions. The survey, which asks respondents to report on estimated results from the previous year and make predictions for the year ahead, provides a 'snapshot' of the educational fundraising landscape.

At the end of the 2009-2010 academic year, for which there's not yet any hard data, fundraisers estimated a 4.3% increase in philanthropic giving over 2008-2009. And their predictions for next year were even better - on average, respondents projected a 5.7% increase for 2010-2011.

These figures suggest that academic fundraising is slowly starting to recover from the recession. The third CFI, conducted in the summer of 2009, reported a roughly 4% drop in 2008-2009 for academic giving across the board. When the Council for Aid to Education (CAE) released hard numbers for 2009 the following winter, they found that private giving to academia was down a shocking twelve percent.

Before the recession, the 20-year average annual growth was at about six percent. CASE president John Lippincott predicts that, if 2010-2011 really does see a 5.7% increase, then academic fundraising may return to pre-recession levels in as little as two years.

Community College

Things aren't going smoothly at every school, however. As with the January CFI, projected institutional results varied widely. Some schools reported double-digit increases, while others were still seeing double-digit declines in 2009-2010. Out of all institutional types, past year results were best at community colleges and independent schools. However, fundraisers at 4-year public colleges and universities as well as community colleges were the most optimistic for the upcoming year.

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