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University giving reaches all-time high

University giving reaches all-time high

News (UK)

UK universities saw record levels of donors and funds raised in 2011-12, according to the annual Ross-CASE Survey report, the only detailed source of information on higher education philanthropic giving in the UK.

Total new funds secured, including new single cash gifts and the full value of new pledges (up to five years), rose by 14.4% in 2011-12 to a record amount of £774m. This is the second consecutive year that an all-time high has been reported and builds on a 10-year effort to build fundraising capacity and engage the sector more widely with philanthropy.

It also follows the end in 2011 of a three-year, £200m government match funding scheme to increase voluntary giving to higher education providers, administered by Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Kate Hunter, executive director of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Europe, one of the key partners in the report, said: "It's fantastic news that we're seeing continued growth in higher education philanthropy, despite wider economic pressures and the end of the government's Matched Funding Scheme.”

Numbers of both alumni and non-alumni donors also rose to record levels in 2011-12. The number of alumni making donations was up 5% in 2011-12, rising to almost 170,000, whereas the number of non-alumni donors rose by around 11%, to almost 44,000.

However, despite these overall successes, the median (average) new funds secured and cash income received by individual institutions fell in 2011-12 compared to 2010-11. This reflects increased variation in university performance: 39% saw an increase in new funds secured and 31% saw an increase in cash income, but 27% of reporting institutions also saw their new funds secured drop by more than 50%.

Hunter added: We need to ensure institutions are supported in developing this important stream of income. Analysis and sharing of best practice will be key to helping more and more universities reach their full fundraising potential."

One hundred and forty three institutions took part in the Ross-CASE survey 2011-12, including eight further education colleges. Membership body Universities UK has 135 members including “virtually all the universities in the UK and some colleges of higher education.”

Variations in fundraising performance shown in the report led to the Ross-CASE Survey Report exploring "communities" of universities that have a similar fundraising profile to each other for the first time.

Analysis of the 143 respondents revealed five different groups of universities currently in the UK:

  • Elite fundraising programmes: only two universities, the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, fall into this group. A higher proportion of their donors are alumni and a higher proportion of their alumni are donors.
  • Established fundraising programmes: a smaller group, at 6%. These institutions secure substantial levels of funds and cash, tend to receive a greater number of gifts over £500,000 and have a higher number of donors and alumni who make donations.
  • Moderate fundraising programmes: the second largest group, at 27%. These institutions mostly have a healthy ratio of fundraising investment per pound received, although they still only receive a small number of gifts over £500,000.
  • Emerging fundraising programmes: the largest group, at 62% of those surveyed. Institutions in this group have less developed fundraising programmes and a lower return on their fundraising efforts. Only a few institutions in this group have received a gift over £500,000 in the last three years, and often their largest gift makes up a large proportion of their income.
  • Fragile fundraising programmes: making up 4% of the overall total, this was the only group that spent more on fundraising activities than they received.

Tania Jane Rawlinson, director of campaigns and alumni relations at the University of Bristol and chair of the Ross Group of Development Directors, said: “As the recent Review of Philanthropy in UK Higher Education led by Professor Shirley Pearce highlighted, the sector's approach to fundraising has been transformed over the past 10 years. Important drivers of success are clarity about an institution's identity, knowing what is realistic and sharing the learnings of those who are 'best in class.'”

She added: “We believe that the data provided by the Ross-CASE Survey Report, including this year's innovative new way of grouping universities, is invaluable to anyone in higher education looking to develop or improve their own fundraising programmes."

The Ross-CASE Survey Report is available online.

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