Letter from the Director
April brings joy to many of us as we see more sunshine and the emergence of beautiful flowers and blooming trees, and perhaps a sense of optimism about a return to normal life. Last month, we shared some insights from a survey by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. As you may have noticed, many of the predictions outlined in the report were dependent on favorable future economic factors. We remain optimistic about the future as more and more vaccines roll out. We hope that activities will resume in the coming months, despite not knowing what the new normal may look like. It is certainly exciting to hear about the re-opening plans at many organizations and higher education institutions.
The Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s (CASE) 2019-2020 Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) annual survey findings show a slight decline in charitable giving to U.S. higher education institutions – but the total figure is almost unchanged from the previous year’s findings. Giving to U.S. higher education institutions totaled roughly $49.50 billion from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. An interesting finding to note is that giving from “other organizations” exceeded support from corporations. This category of “other organizations” indicates an increase in charitable giving through the use of donor advised funds (DAFs). Giving from DAFs accounted for nearly three-quarters of the category’s $6.74 billion total. The findings also confirm that over half (55.5 percent) of all voluntary support came from alumni ($11.06 billion) and foundation ($16.44 billion) giving. There was a four percent increase in giving from non-alumni individuals in 2020. Giving to operations that felt most compelling to donors and that would have an impact on immediate needs such as student emergency funds, research dollars, and relief efforts saw an increase.
The VSE report findings reveal that there has been an increase in giving by DAFs. This means that institutions should have processes in place to identify, research, and accept these types of gifts so that they may continue to cultivate and steward DAF donors. Online and mobile giving has also seen growth in recent months, which points to the need for institutions to examine their online and mobile engagement strategies. Based on these findings, we hope you are able to adopt and implement fundraising strategies that will improve fundraising goals. As always, feel free to reach out us with questions, comments or any assistance with prospect research!
Sapna and USM Advancement Research Team
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