Contributions to U.S. colleges and universities totaled $49.5 billion in fiscal year 2020, down slightly from $49.6 billion in FY2019, the Voluntary Support of Education survey published by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education finds.
Based on responses from eight hundred and seventy-three colleges and universities, the annual survey (summary, 12 pages, PDF) found that 48.6 percent of institutions reported an increase in giving in the year ending June 30, 2020. The report notes that if Michael R. Bloomberg's $1.8 billion commitment to Johns Hopkins University in 2019 is excluded from the comparison, total contributions in FY20 would be up 3.6 percent on a year-over-year basis.
Although foundations accounted for the largest share of contributions in FY20, as in previous years, total dollars awarded declined 4.2 percent, adjusted for inflation, while foundations' share of the total fell slightly, from 34.3 percent to 33.2 percent. The next largest category, giving by alumni, also saw total dollars decline, down 2.1 percent, while the category's share of the total dipped from 22.6 percent to 22.3 percent. Giving by non-alumni individuals, on the other hand, rose 3 percent, with the category's share of the total rising from 16.7 percent to 17.4 percent, while giving from "other organizations" — which include donor-advised funds — increased 6 percent, with the category's share of the total growing from 12.7 percent to 13.6 percent, surpassing corporate giving (13.4 percent, down from 13.7 percent) for the first time in the survey's history.
According to the report, total dollars spent for current operations at U.S. colleges and universities increased 6 percent, to 61.6 percent of the total, up from 57.5 percent in FY19, while giving for capital purposes fell 10.8 percent, to 38.4 percent of the total, down from 42.5 percent. The report also notes that seven gifts of at least $100 million or more totaling $1.01 billion accounted for 2 percent of the total; in FY2019, eight commitments of at least $100 million totaled $2.2 billion.
"In a year marked by uncertainty due to COVID-19 combined with a renewed passion for the power of community as seen in social justice movements across the globe, it is gratifying to see that giving to colleges and universities continues to play an integral role in transforming lives and society," said CASE president and CEO Sue Cunningham. "Advancement professionals, working with institution leaders and colleagues, have demonstrated an impressive response to unprecedented circumstances realizing philanthropic support for their institutions and for advancing education at a time when it was most needed."