U.S. Colleges, Universities Raised $46.7 Billion in 2018, Survey Finds

U.S. Colleges, Universities Raised $46.7 Billion in 2018, Survey Finds

Contributions to U.S. colleges and universities reached a record $46.73 billion in fiscal year 2018, a 4.6 percent year-over-year increase on an inflation-adjusted basis, a report from the Voluntary Support of Education survey of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education finds.

Based on responses from eight hundred and seventy-one colleges and universities, the survey (8 pages, PDF) found that total estimated giving to U.S. institutions of higher education increased for the ninth consecutive year in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018. Since FY2009, charitable support of higher education institutions has increased 67.8 percent. Last year, contributions to colleges and universities were up in most donor categories, including alumni donations (4.3 percent, adjusted for inflation), non-alumni contributions (6.3 percent), foundation gifts (4.1 percent), and contributions from "other organizations" (10.7 percent) — which include donor-advised funds (DAFs), fundraising consortia, and religious organizations; corporate gifts fell slightly (0.5 percent), however. According to a sample of more than four hundred institutions that provided data on contributions from donor-advised funds, total DAF dollars increased 65.8 percent, while the total number of contributions rose 18.8 percent and the average gift size was up 39.5 percent. The report's authors attribute the steep increase in DAF contributions in part to the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was signed into law halfway through the fiscal year, and in part to solid stock market gains in the first half of 2018. 

The report also found that giving to colleges and universities in FY18 increased across all institution types — including multiple campuses, research/doctoral, master's, baccalaureate, specialized, and associate's — as well as at both public and private institutions. For the third consecutive year, Harvard University ($1.418 billion) topped the list of the twenty institution that raised the most — which collectively attracted 28 percent of the $46.7 billion total — followed by Stanford University ($1.097 billion); Columbia University ($1.009 billion); the University of California, Los Angeles ($786.65 million); the University of California, San Francisco ($730.27 million); and Johns Hopkins University ($723.6 million). Seven institutions reported gifts of at least $100 million, six of which also ranked among the top twenty institutions in terms of dollars raised.

"This year's VSE again illustrates the value placed in higher education institutions by their donors, alumni, and communities," said CASE president and CEO Sue Cunningham. "These constituents understand the important research, teaching, and service provided by colleges and universities, and the results indicate unwavering commitment to the vital role these institutions play in transforming lives and society."

"2018 VSE Survey Finds Charitable Giving to U.S. Colleges and Universities Continuing Upward Trend." Council for Advancement and Support of Education 02/11/2019. "Voluntary Support of Education." Council for Advancement and Support of Education and AMAtlas Report 02/11/2019. "The 20 Institutions That Raised the Most in 2018." Council for Advancement and Support of Education Table 02/11/2019.