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February 22, 2017

$41 Billion: A New Record for Philanthropy

$41 Billion: A New Record for Philanthropy


Charitable giving to American colleges and universities reached a record $41 billion in 2016, according to the latest data from the Council for Aid to Education’s (CAE) annual Voluntary Support of Education survey. Adjusted for inflation, this equates to a 0.4% increase over 2015’s $40.3 billion.


Despite this small increase, CAE data shows that individual giving declined in 2016, with gifts from alumni down 8.5% and gifts from non-alumni down 6%.


Corporate giving increased 14.8%, giving from foundations (including family foundations) increased 7.3%, and giving from other types of organizations increased 9.8%. Notably, the “other” category includes donor-advised funds, a vehicle for personal giving that has seen exceptional growth in recent years.


It may be tempting to take the data at face value, but are we really seeing a decline in giving directed by individuals? It is important to recognize that individuals direct the philanthropy of family foundations, donor-advised funds, and many private companies. Is it possible that the CAE data points to a growing propensity for individuals to direct their philanthropy in different ways?


In the press release announcing the new data, CAE states that “the weak stock market during the 2016 fiscal year likely depressed personal giving, while giving from organizations was buoyed by commitments made amid strong market conditions in the 2015 fiscal year.”


The top 20 colleges and universities, which raised $11.21 billion, are:


1 Harvard University $1.19 Billion
2 Stanford University $951.15 Million
3 University of Southern California $666.64 Million
4 Johns Hopkins University $657.29 Million
5 University of California, San Francisco $595.95 Million
6 Cornell University $588.26 Million
7 Columbia University $584.81 Million
8 University of Pennsylvania $542.85 Million
9 University of Washington $541.44 Million
10 Yale University $519.15 Million
11 Duke University $506.44 Million
12 UCLA $490.80 Million
13 New York University $461.15 Million
14 University of Chicago $443.30 Million
15 University of Michigan $433.78 Million
16 Massachusetts Institute of Technology $419.75 Million
17 Northwestern University $401.68 Million
18 The Ohio State University $386.11 Million
19 University of Notre Dame $371.76 Million
20 Indiana University $360.94 Million

This group, representing fewer than 1% of the nation’s colleges and universities, raised 27% of all academic charitable giving in the United States for 2016.


The Ohio State University and Indiana University are new entrants to the Top 20 list this year. The University of California, San Francisco is the highest ranking public institution ($595.95 million).


The full report on the Voluntary Support of Education survey will be published in Spring 2017 and will be available on CAE’s website.



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