Philanthropic gifts to American colleges and universities totaled $59.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2022, according to the newest annual report from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s (CASE) Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) survey. That survey is generally considered to be the definitive source about philanthropic support for nonprofit and public higher education institutions in the United States.
The FY 2022 level represents a 12.5% increase over the prior year, a gain of $6.6 billion. Almost twice as many institutions reported that their giving amount had increased in 2022 than those reporting it had declined. And those institutions with gains reported a larger change than did those reporting losses.
Giving By Source
Donations from both individuals and organizations increased in FY 2022. Alumni giving grew 10.2%; non alumni individuals gave 8% more, and gifts from organizations were up 14.6%. Organizations accounted for the largest share of the gifts (61%), followed by alumni (23%), and non alumni individuals (16%).
Giving By Type of Institution
Charitable contributions to all institution types except public master’s institutions and associate’s institutions rose significantly. Research/doctoral universities saw an increase of 12.1 %, gifts to baccalaureate colleges were up 12.3%, and donations to specialized institutions rose 10.4%.
Gifts to two year colleges declined 15.4%, while master’s level institutions saw only a .5% increase. The CASE report suggests that the downturn for the two-year schools may reflect the very large gifts many of those schools received from MacKenzie Scott in FY 2021.
Giving By Activity
The majority of philanthropic support went to current operations (58%), with 42% given for capital purposes. The increase in gifts was concentrated in restricted endowments, followed by restricted gifts for current operations. Gifts to endowments primarily go toward student financial aid, and research was the activity for which donors most often restricted their current operations gifts.
In 2022, seven gifts of $100 million or more were made to college and universities, accounting for 1.8% of total support and a total of $1.08 billion. Among these large donors were four foundations, two donor advised funds, and one living individual. None came from corporations or bequests.
Despite headwinds from the pandemic and inflation, CASE suggests that the surge in giving may have been aided by the relatively strong performance of the stock market during a substantial portion of FY 2022, which covers July 1, 2021- June 30, 2022.
CASE president and CEO Sue Cunningham wrote in the introduction to the survey that the results show the value placed on higher education institutions and their mission, adding that “The findings also show the commitment of institutional and academic leaders and advancement professionals to building relationships with constituents. Donors believe in the missions of the colleges and universities they support. Such institutions are seen as good stewards of these voluntary contributions.”
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