Higher ed among most popular for large private gifts
- Higher education is one of the nation's most popular destinations for wealthy donors seeking to make significant gifts, according to a new study from the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
- Surveying some of the most active donors of 2016, the Chronicle found that colleges and universities received 48% of the $5.6 billion donated last year. That percentage exceeds the highest share posted in the survey in five years.
- Stanford University and the University of Southern California raised more than $800 million collectively last year, but this fundraising success continues to meet criticism from political and advocacy groups suggesting that wealth could be better used in donations to smaller, more mission-focused institutions and causes.
It is a tough sell for presidents or advocates to suggest how rich people should spend their money, and in many cases, it can produce animosity with donors who more commonly give to institutions with which they are most personally familiar. It can also create a sense among lower-level donors that their gifts are not as valued as contributions from wealthier philanthropists.
The key for college leaders is to study their range of donors more accurately and to think about how to market the programs and initiatives which could be most attractive to potential donors. Additionally, inviting potential donors in as advisers on program development could help to establish foundations for future gifts. But in doing so, leaders should also be careful to navigate unreasonable demands for oversight of programs or executions.
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy America’s biggest donors give unusually large share of gifts to colleges
- Education Dive $40m gift earns donors the right to curriculum review
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy Decline in giving by individuals last year kept fundraising flat