Charitable contributions to the nation's colleges and universities increased 0.5 percent in 2010, reaching $28 billion, a new report from the Council for Aid to Education finds. Adjusted for inflation, giving dropped 0.6 percent.
Based on the results of the latest Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) survey, the report found that while support for higher education in current dollars is back to where it was in 2006, it is 8 percent lower when adjusted for inflation. And while the study indicates that giving hit bottom in 2009, when it was down 11.9 percent from the previous year, a full recovery has yet to materialize. The study also found that the twenty institutions that raised the most in 2010 received a total of $7.15 billion — $130 million less than was raised by the top twenty institutions in 2009.
As it did in 2009, Stanford University again topped the list, raising $598.9 million, followed by Harvard ($597 million) and Johns Hopkins ($427.6 million). Each of the top three universities, however, raised less in 2010 than they did in 2009; the same was true of ten additional institutions among the top twenty. While the twenty largest institutions represent 2 percent of the 996 respondents to the survey, the contributions they received accounted for 25.5 percent of all gifts to higher education in 2010. Overall, more than half the respondents reported increases in giving in 2010, with liberal arts colleges reporting the greatest increase (2.9 percent) a year after experiencing one of the worst declines in their history (18.3 percent).
"We're still not out of the woods," said Ann E. Kaplan, director of the VSE survey. "Charitable contributions to education are recovering very slowly. Still, historical patterns show that the pace of recovery in charitable giving usually reflects overall economic recovery. As long as the economy continues to improve, we can expect further improvement in giving, even if incremental at first."