Donations to UK Universities
Surpass £1BN Milestone

UK universities’ philanthropic giving has reached record levels, surpassing the £1 billion-a-year milestone for the first time.

The latest annual Ross-CASE Survey of Charitable Giving to Universities has reported a record-breaking increase in philanthropic income of 23 percent across the 110 participating universities.

The funds raised were instrumental in the development and recent rollout of a genetic test to improve childhood cancer treatment at The Institute of Cancer Research, supporting dementia research at the University of Edinburgh and restoring the iconic McEwan Hall in Edinburgh. Other projects include funding new scholarships to enable Londoners from disadvantaged backgrounds to study at the University of London and supporting talented students from Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda to study for a master’s degree at the University of Manchester in subjects that aren’t available in their home county.

The report was compiled by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Tricia King, vice president, global engagement at CASE, said: “Philanthropic giving is now at the heart of UK university culture. It provides vital funds to enable the nation’s universities to invest in new ground-breaking research that pushes back the boundaries of knowledge, improves social mobility by widening access to degree study and builds world-class facilities.

“University fundraising is dependent upon building long-term relationships with donors, and their investment over time demonstrates a powerful belief in the capacity of universities to tackle world problems,” King said. “It’s particularly pleasing to see that our alumni make such a major contribution. It’s clear that they, more than anyone, have experienced the benefits of university study and it’s gratifying that they want to give back.”

The increase in funds secured comes despite a decrease (0.5 percent) in the overall number of donors year on year, with a significant proportion of the new funds secured from large gifts and pledges. As in previous years of the 15-year research project, new funds secured from alumni (£322m) account for significantly more than non-alumni individuals (£149m) while new funds secured from trusts and foundations (£442m) far outweighs companies (£82m).

Comparing the survey data for 2015-16 to the previous year, findings show that investment in fundraising and alumni relations reported an increase of 16 percent and 10 percent, respectively. The report also shows a 27 percent increase in the number of donors pledging gifts worth £500,000 or more up from 189 to 240.

One of the founding members of the survey, TJ Rawlinson, member of the Ross-CASE Editorial Board and director of development and alumni relations at Cardiff University, commented on the origins of the survey: “In the early 2000s, a group of development directors met at the Ross Priory in Scotland to share experiences and analysis. Their work in collecting data and benchmarking UK fundraising in higher education has grown substantially, and after years of partnering with CASE, the survey is now managed by CASE. The survey has become instrumental in helping the sector to identify good practice in securing philanthropic support and to grow this important income stream for universities.”

CASE President and CEO Sue Cunningham said the survey findings represent a watershed moment. “Surpassing 1 billion pounds is a testament to the hard work of more than 2,100 fundraising and alumni relations professionals, the academic institutions they support and the philanthropic donors who believe in investing in the important work of universities. These dedicated professionals are advancing education in profound ways and transforming lives and society in the process,” said Cunningham.

Other results from the 2015-16 academic year include:

  • Total amount gifted from legacies was £104.7 million from 1,179 legacy donors.
  • Alumni donors (177,798) consisted of 80 percent of individual donors (223,256).
  • Universities from the “Established” grouping accounted 32 percent of new funds secured while those considered to be “Elite” accounted for 46 percent of new funds secured.
  • Such was the improved investment in some of the “Emerging” universities in fundraising that they have been formed into a new classification, “Developing.”

Download the full report here

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