Yale fundraising is on the rebound

While other American colleges and universities suffered a decline in giving, Yale saw a 6.4 percent increase in donations in 2010.

Results from the Council for Aid to Education’s annual Voluntary Support of Education survey released earlier this month show that 13 of the 20 universities that raised the most money last year reported a drop in gifts from the 2009 fiscal year to the 2010 fiscal year. As other schools reported an average donation increase of just 0.5 percent over the previous year, Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach said she is pleased that in Yale’s case, the results demonstrate significant recovery after the 2008 recession.

“We are very pleased we are catching up again and making up the decreases we experienced at the height of the financial crisis,” Reichenbach said. “In general, donors are getting more optimistic about the financial situation and are more willing and comfortable making new commitments.”

As Yale approaches the June 30 deadline for its five-year comprehensive fundraising campaign, “Yale Tomorrow,” Reichenbach said the University has seen an increase in donations. Yale received $380.9 million and ranked seventh in total giving in the 2010 fiscal year.

Stanford University led the nation in total donations in 2010 with $598.89 million in gifts, and has stayed at the top spot for several of the past few years. But Stanford, which is also in the final year of a five-year “Stanford Challenge” development campaign, registered a 6.4 percent decrease in giving from 2009 to 2010.

Given that Stanford normally has high levels of giving, Reichenbach said, she does not think the 2010 changes for Stanford or other top schools are part of a significant trend.

“They just may have had a really big gift the year before,” Reichenbach said. “This is probably just a timing issue or a blip on the screen.”

Reichenbach added that the survey reflects only paid donations and not unpaid pledges.

Rebecca Smith Vogel, assistant vice president for the Stanford Office of Development, told The Stanford Daily Feb. 8 that such a decline is not unusual during the middle phase of a campaign. The Stanford Challenge is set to end Dec. 31, six months after the end of the Yale Tomorrow campaign, and has already surpassed its goal of $4.3 billion. Yale Tomorrow has not yet met its $3.5 billion target.

Yale’s other peer institutions also saw a decline in fundraising in 2010. Giving to Harvard University dropped by 0.8 percent, and Columbia University received 2.7 percent less in donations than in the previous year.

Ann Kaplan, who directed the survey for the Council for Aid to Education, said the results demonstrate a slow recovery in fundraising after the financial crisis.

“Charitable contributions to education are recovering very slowly,” Kaplan said in a press release. “Still, historical patterns show that the pace of the recovery in charitable giving usually reflects overall economic recovery.”

Despite the lagging recovery in fundraising, the most recent results show improvement from the 11.9 percent decrease in overall giving reported in the 2009 survey. Kaplan said she expects giving to grow as long as the economy continues to recover.

Harvard came in second behind Stanford with $596.96 million raised, while Columbia raised $402.36 million and was ranked fifth.

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