The latest Ross-CASE report shows that giving is over the £1 billion threshold again. This should come as no shock; philanthropic activity has been above or near this mark for the last few years. It is safe to say this is the new normal for Higher Education.
Fundraising levels have increased from £350 million secured by 75 Universities in 2004-2005 to £1.08 billion in new funds secured by 100 Universities in 2017-2018. This is impressive, and we can congratulate our colleagues for all their hard work. It is, however, important to take a deeper look at some of the trends that contribute to this rise and consider what might help the sector take the next big step.
Here are some of our key takeaways from the 2019 Ross-CASE report:
- With alumni giving static at 1.3% participation and a drop of 2% overall, are institutions making a strong enough philanthropic case to their largest stakeholder group?
- Legacies are on the rise and longer established offices are most benefiting, but are we properly investing in this important and valuable area?
- The importance of organisations to Higher Education is clear, and organisations are giving many of the biggest gifts. Sixty percent of new pledges and 61% of cash income comes from organisations, which account for just 12% of donors.
- With the current pressures on Universities to find savings, the news of a 4% decrease in spending on fundraising might not be a surprise for many. This might be bad news for long-term outcomes if it is the start of a downward trend.
- Reponses to the survey was a respectable 100 institutions. We have seen a steady year-on-year decline from a height of 135 in 2011-2012. Is this down due to some offices going from fragile to no longer existing, or are some institutions not able or willing to take part?
- Moderate offices had a tough year, with a 26% decrease in new funds secured and a 0.6% drop in cash income in 2017-2018. The decrease in new funds will likely have a negative impact on cash next year.
As always, it’s worth remembering to implement benchmarking practices before going too deep into these (or any) industry-wide giving metrics.