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Universities boost donor numbers by 10%

Universities boost donor numbers by 10%

News (UK)

The total number of donors who gave to universities in 2010-11 was 204,250, an increase of 10% since 2009-10 and 24% since 2008-9.

UK universities received £560m in philanthropic cash income in 2010-11, up from £517m in 2009-10. Ten per cent of the cash income came from legacies in 2010-11, according to this year's Ross-CASE survey report, Giving to Excellence: generating philanthropic support for UK Higher Education 2010-2011, based on figures compiled by the National Centre for Social Research.

The report's authors say the increase has been helped over the last three years by a matched funding scheme which ended in 2011. For the past three years there has been a growth rate of at least 10% in both total donor and alumni donor numbers. The report says philanthropy is one of the few growing income streams available to the higher education sector.

They also identify other factors including larger graduating cohorts, universities actively seeking ‘lost’ alumni as part of a strategy to build contacts and support among older groups as well as recent graduates, and the strong performance of  equities and other risk assets.

However, the report warns that markets have been more volatile since the middle of 2011, the end of the period reported in the survey. “As a result we are cautious about the prospects for fundraising results over the next 12 to 24 months.”

The majority of gifts went to Oxford and Cambridge universities and accounted for 44.2% of the new philanthropic funds secured by UK universities in the UK.

Major donors have played a key role in helping Oxford University reach its fundraising target of £1.25bn in under eight years - the fastest such an amount has been raised by any university in Europe.

Philanthropists including James Martin, Len Blavatnik and Mica Ertegun have made multi-million pound donations and had buildings or scholarships named after them. Since 2005, Martin has donated over £95m to the university. It has used the money to set up the Oxford Martin School to study the problems of the 21st century. Len Blavatnik donated £75m to set up a school of government, which opens this year and Mica Ertegun has funded scholarships for exceptional humanities students.

Over 3,500 gifts of more than £25,000 each have been donated, of which more than 500 have been for more than £250,000. Just under half of all donations (49%) have come from UK sources and the rest from overseas. While 36% of the total came from Oxford alumni, 35% came from foundations and more than 23% from supporters who had not been Oxford students.

Hong Kong-based philanthropist Dickson Poon has donated £10m towards a  £20m dedicated building for the Oxford China Centre, which will provide a hub for all China-related study across the university leading to “a balanced and dispassionate understanding of China by the West” that will “enhance the growing relationships between China and the West”. 

The report shows that in total, UK universities were in touch with  just over 8.7m alumni in 2010-11 of whom 162,913 gave a donation, around 1.3%. Typically, these gifts came through the Annual Fund of individual universities.

The authors note that some donors give very large amounts even if they are not alumni. “It is worth noting that philanthropy does far more for the sector than raising much needed support; it also serves to deepen engagement with an influential group of individuals and organisations and highlights very clearly the value and importance of Higher Education in addressing pressing societal issues.”

Download a copy of the report for free here

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