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Council for Aid to Education (CAE)

February, 2011

Charitable contributions to colleges and universities in the United States increased 0.5 percent in
2010, reaching $28 billion, according to results of the annual Voluntary Support of Education
(VSE) survey. The findings were released today by the Council for Aid to Education (CAE).
Adjusted for inflation, giving declined 0.6 percent. Support of higher education institutions is at
the same level now as it was in 2006. In inflation-adjusted terms, however, support is 8 percent
lower in 2010 than it was in 2006. (Additional comparisons between 2006 and 2010 appear on
page 6.)
Though lackluster, the findings are more sanguine than those of last year, when giving dropped
11.9 percent. The study indicates that the fundraising nadir was reached in 2009 but that a full
recovery is yet to materialize. As in the economy as a whole, improvements in higher education
giving have been incremental so far.
Thirteen of the Top 20 Fundraising Institutions Report Lower Giving
The 20 institutions that raised the most in 2010 received $7.15 billion—$0.13 billion less than
the top 20 institutions raised in 2009. The top 20 institutions in 2010 are not exactly the same
institutions as the top 20 in 2009. As a group, the 2010 top 20 raised $0.11 billion less than they
raised in 2009.
The top 20 institutions represent 2 percent of the 996 survey respondents. However,
contributions they received account for 25.5 percent of all 2010 gifts to higher education
In 2010, Stanford University raised more from private donors than any other university, followed
by Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University. Each of these institutions raised less in
2010 than in 2009, as did 10 additional institutions among the top 20.
Page 2
Council for Aid to Education, 2011
The nation’s top 20 fundraising universities (and dollars received) in 2010 are:
1. Stanford University ($598.89 million)
2. Harvard University ($596.96 million)
3. Johns Hopkins University ($427.59 million)
4. University of Southern California ($426.02 million)
5. Columbia University ($402.36 million)
6. University of Pennsylvania ($381.59 million)
7. Yale University ($380.90 million)
8. New York University ($349.21 million)
9. Duke University ($345.47 million)
10. Indiana University ($342.82 million)
11. University of California, Los Angeles ($340.41 million)
12. University of Wisconsin-Madison ($311.85 million)
13. Cornell University ($308.22 million)
14. University of California, Berkeley ($307.51 million)
15. Massachusetts Institute of Technology ($307.18 million)
16. University of Washington ($285.22 million)
17. University of California, San Francisco ($268.90 million)
18. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ($266.86 million)
19. University of Michigan ($252.10 million)
20. University of Chicago ($251.23 million)

Gradual Recovery or Continuing Struggle?
Ann E. Kaplan, director of the VSE survey, stated, “We’re still not out of the woods. Charitable
contributions to education are recovering very slowly. Still, historical patterns show that the pace of the 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.”

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