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Survey: Education Fundraising Up 5% For 2015

Fundraisers at schools, colleges and universities in the United States estimate that donations to their institutions grew 5.1 percent during the academic year that ended June 30, according to survey results released this month by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Conducted twice a year, the CASE Fundraising Index (CFI) survey asks educational fundraising professionals to estimate the level of charitable giving to their institutions for the 12-month period just ended and to predict the level for the 12 months ahead. In addition to fundraising estimates for colleges and universities, the CFI includes estimates for pre-collegiate independent (private) schools.

The estimated 5.1 percent growth is somewhat lower than the 5.4 percent growth predicted by fundraisers at the beginning of the 2014-2015 academic year. The 20-year average for year-to-year growth in actual giving is 5.9 percent.

Among those surveyed, fundraisers at independent schools estimated the greatest growth in giving for the 2015 academic year at 5.9 percent. Fundraisers at public and private higher education institutions estimated 4.8 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively, while community colleges estimated giving at 1.5 percent.

Looking forward, fundraisers at schools, colleges and universities predicted an increase of 6.2 percent in giving in the 2016 academic year. Public higher education institutions and community colleges were the most optimistic, predicting 8.3 and 9.2 percent increases, respectively, in giving.

“Overall, giving to education remained steady during the 2015 academic year although independent schools saw better-than-predicted growth in the academic year,” CASE President Sue Cunningham said. “Going forward, it’s encouraging to see educational fundraisers from all institutions optimistic about giving in the coming year,” she said in a press release announcing the results.

Cunningham stressed that the CFI percentages are averages and that performance at individual institutions will vary based on a variety of factors, such as the maturity of the fundraising program and whether or not the institution is in a campaign.

The CFI is intended to complement work being done by other organizations that provide detailed analyses of giving based on actual results reported several months after the close of the calendar or academic year, Cunningham said. It is also intended to help fundraisers set preliminary benchmarks for past and future performance.

The CFI is based on an online survey of senior-level fundraising professionals at more than 1,600 CASE-member institutions in the United States conducted July 1-29. The CFI survey had a response rate of 7.8 percent. Results of the CFI since its inception in July 2008 can be found on the CASE website.

The 20-year average growth rate for giving to education is based on the Council for Aid to Education’s (CAE) annual Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) survey.

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