Donations to universities on the rise

After falling by 11.9% in 2009, donations slightly increased in 2010.

After the number of donations to American universities dipped in the last three years, a survey released by the Council for Aid to Education shows donations returned to 2006 levels last year. MU raised 78 million in fiscal year 2010, with $50 million coming in donations. The total raised ranked eighth among Big 12 schools. The University of Texas at Austin took in the highest total raised: $235 million.

Conducted by the Voluntary Support of Education, the survey determined the donated money across the board had risen to $28 billion in 2010. This was an increase from the 2009 number, when giving fell by 11.9 percent.

Donations in 2006 were also at $28 billion, but the 2010 number indicates donating has actually declined by 0.6 percent since 2006, when accounting for inflation.

Director for Development Communications Catey Terry said around the 1960's, MU received 50 percent of its funding from the state, but now that number has dwindled to 12 percent. At MU, because state support has been decreasing steadily over the past several decades, reliance on private donations is increasing.

"We're very grateful for what we receive from the state," Terry said.

But she went on to say since state donations are decreasing, private donations are becoming more popular and more necessary.

Of the amount of money donated to MU, 32.68 percent was from alumni, 24.37 percent from corporations and 17.35 percent from foundations.

The 20 institutions that received the most in 2010 include Columbia University, Stanford University and Harvard University. The $7.15 billion in donations to the top 2 percent of receiving institutions account for 25.5 percent of total donations in 2010.

Terry said although the public universities are new to fundraising compared to liberal arts colleges, the funding affects every aspect of the university and is very important.

Ann Kaplan, director of the VSE survey, said the failure of the economy in the last several years can be attributed to the dip in private and corporate giving.

"Nationally, the economy does tend to be pretty good predictor at what's being shown in the data," Kaplan said.

According to the survey, the percentage of alumni giving decreased, while corporate giving increased.

There is also a strong correlation between the stock market's strength and donations. The VSE survey showed the increase in stock values between 2009 and 2010 were at an incline, but still did not reach the value in 2006. The stock market particularly affects endowments, and an increase in endowment value is an encouraging sign.

Kaplan said corporate spending depends on the company. Foundations are required to give away 5 percent of their income. Family-based foundations tend to be more generous because they have an endowment to give away and are personally attached to certain schools. However, for wealthy donors, their behavior might be based more on stocks and tax breaks.

"A company's reason to give money isn't philanthropic," Kaplan said. "They're giving it as a matching gift program, to raise employee morale or to help their wishes."

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