Charitable giving to U.S. colleges and universities increased 1.7 percent, to $41 billion, in fiscal year 2016, the Voluntary Support of Education survey, a report from the Council for Aid to Education, finds.
The slight increase is negligible when adjusted for inflation and is down substantially from increases of 7.6 percent in 2015, 10.8 percent in 2014, and 9 percent in 2013. In addition, fundraising revenue at the twenty institutions that raised the most, representing 27.1 percent of the total, fell 2.1 percent on a year-over-year basis, to $11.12 billion. Topping the list was Harvard University, which raised $1.19 billion, followed by Stanford University ($951.15 million), the University of Southern California ($666.64 million), Johns Hopkins University ($657.39 million), the University of California, San Francisco ($594.94), Cornell University ($588.26 million), and Columbia University ($584.81). The survey also found that total endowment values increased just 3 percent in 2015, after rising 15 percent in 2014, with endowment values declining 4.4 percent on a year-over-year basis.
According to the annual survey, foundation giving, which accounts for the largest share of giving (30.4 percent) to the nation's colleges and universities, increased 7.3 percent in 2016, while corporate giving (16.1 percent) rose 14.8 percent and gifts from alumni (24.2 percent) and non-alumni individuals (18.3 percent) fell 8.5 percent and 6 percent. Among institutions that provided details about how the gifts they received were directed, giving for financial aid remained steady at around 16 percent of total support, with the largest share of contributions supporting research.
"Charitable support for colleges and universities is likely to increase in 2017 if the stock market continues to gain ground through June 30, 2017," the report notes, adding that "[l]egislation that lowers the top marginal tax rate or that limits deductibility of charitable contributions tends to depress charitable giving, but not necessarily in the year the law is passed."