Contributions to the nation's colleges and universities reached a record $43.60 billion in 2017, a 3.7 percent year-over-year increase after inflation, the annual Voluntary Support of Education survey from the Council for Aid to Education finds.
For the second consecutive year, Harvard University topped the list of institutions that raised the most, with $1.28 billion, followed by Stanford, which raised $1.13 billion. They were followed by Cornell University ($743.50 million), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ($672.94 million), the University of Southern California ($668.33 million), Johns Hopkins University ($636.91 million), the University of Pennsylvania ($626.49 million), Columbia University ($603.08 million), Yale University ($595.89 million), and Duke University ($581.05 million). Collectively, the top twenty institutions raised a total of $12.23 billion, or 28.1 percent of all gifts to higher education in 2017; in 2016, the same twenty institutions raised $11.07 billion. According to the survey, gifts from alumni increased 14.5 percent in 2017, while gifts from non-alumni rose 5.5 percent — a significant change from 2016, when both categories saw declines (8.5 percent and 6 percent, respectively).
Although corporate support for higher education did not increase from 2016 levels, support from foundations increased 5.5 percent while gifts and contributions from other organizations — a category that includes donor-advised funds — rose 3.1 percent. As was the case in 2016, foundations were the largest source of support, accounting for 30.1 percent of the total, followed by alumni, who provided 26.1 percent of total contributions.
"Charitable support for colleges and universities is likely to increase in 2018 if the stock market continues to gain ground through June 30, 2018 — the end of the fiscal year," said CAE vice president and VSE survey director Ann E. Kaplan. "In addition, some individuals may have pre-paid intentions and pledges in December 2017 to take advantage of elements of the tax law that were more favorable for certain donors and types of gifts."