Yale excels at securing donations from alumni but is not as successful at procuring gifts from corporations, foundations and unaffiliated individuals, according to a recent 10-year study of the University and its peer institutions.
In a 2001 study by the Council for Aid to Education, which examined university fund raising on a national scale, Yale ranked third in alumni giving, 11th in gifts from foundations, 20th in donations from “other individuals,” and was not ranked in the top 20 for corporate gift-giving.
Yale President Richard Levin and Vice President for Development Charles Pagnam said the University is taking steps to increase donations in the less lucrative sectors. Pagnam said Yale has hired new development directors and intends to promote awareness of specific programs and schools, such as Yale’s fine arts and the Yale School of Medicine.
When compared to a group including other Ivy League schools, Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale tends to rank among the top three each year for total alumni donations, Pagnam said.
“That is something we are proud of,” he said. “It clearly shows the support and investment and interest that our alumni have in the University’s future.”
But Pagnam said Yale is “at best, in the middle of the group” for procuring gifts from “friends” — individual donors without a Yale degree — and in the bottom quarter or so for donations from corporations and foundations. Yale officials are currently working to raise the number of these gifts, Pagnam said.
“Yale alumni give close to 60 percent of our total dollars raised on an annual basis.” Pagnam said. “What we’d like to see is that percentage decrease while at the same time our total dollars increased.”
Pagnam said many organizations — including national museums and other nonprofit organizations — also compete for corporate gifts, making it harder for universities to secure them.
Pagnam said Yale’s location also makes it somewhat difficult to obtain substantial gifts.
“New Haven is a wonderful place, but it doesn’t have as many individuals with significant gift capacity as does Boston or New York,” Pagnam said. “However, I believe we have not promoted the riches the University has — especially with respect to the arts — to southern Connecticut as much as I think we should.”
Yale is also focusing on raising unaffiliated donations for the medical school, Pagnam said.
“If you look at our peer institutions, you’ll find medical schools have significant influence on the total dollars raised from friends, and that’s because of having grateful patients and individuals who give gifts to support medical research,” Pagnam said. “We’ve not been as proactive in those areas as we should be.”
In competing for donations from corporations, foundations and individuals, Yale has a number of new initiatives that may be appealing, said John Pepper ’60, a member of the Yale Corporation and former CEO of Procter & Gamble.
“The Center for Globalization is a new, very unique entity that we have that could become of interest to others,” Pepper said.
Even though the University has new programs and ideas for increasing donations, the weak economy has nevertheless hindered fund-raising efforts, Pagnam said.
Princeton Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations Mary Baum said most elite universities are suffering because of the economic slump.
“My sense was, on average, everyone was down approximately 15 to 20 percent from last year,” Baum said.
Baum said there is increased pressure to raise money in the corporate and foundation sectors because individuals are less likely to make donations when the economy is suffering.