With less than eight months until the end of the comprehensive “Yale Tomorrow” development campaign, donations have almost doubled those brought in over the same period last year.

Yale raised $159 million between July and October 2010 — the first quarter of fiscal year 2011 — compared with $89 million during the same period last year. The improvement results from national economic recovery and a final wave of giving from donors in the last year of the five-year campaign, said Inge Reichenbach, vice president for development. Yale had raised nearly $3.2 billion as of the beginning of November, she said, keeping Yale ahead of schedule to reach its goal of $3.5 billion.

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“Everybody had two difficult years with the recession and the global financial crisis,” Reichenbach said. “As of May we have seen a totally different level of activity.”

As donors and Yale’s fundraising volunteers leave the office for summer travel, the pace of donations lags in the first quarter of a fiscal year, Reichenbach said. But in the last year of the Universitywide fundraising project, which focuses on Yale College, the arts, the sciences and Yale’s international efforts, first-time and repeat donors alike are motivated to give to Yale.

University President Richard Levin said the improvement is partly due to overall economic recovery, especially in the stock market. Still, he pointed to the campaign’s conclusion this coming summer as the root of the donation surge.

“I think a lot of alumni are recognizing that this is the last year of the campaign and it’s time to step up and take a role,” Levin said.

Yale’s donations have spiked in part because the University has closed deals for several large gifts, Reichenbach said, adding that Yale is anticipating several significant gifts in the coming months.

Since “Yale Tomorrow” was publically launched in September 2006, a small number of donors have given a large percentage of net campaign gifts: One-half of 1 percent of all donors gave 76 percent of all donations, Reichenbach said. Other fundraising campaigns have followed this trend ever since their development goals expanded into the billion-dollar range in the late 1980s, she said. While Reichenbach said it is still too early to project future giving patterns, she said she believes large donations will be critical to reaching multi-billion-dollar campaign goals.

“It will be interesting to see what’s going to happen because the recession has been so deep and so traumatic,” Reichenbach said. “I think it’s hard to make predictions.”

The first quarter results build upon donations pledged since July 2004 — two years before the campaign publically launched — to bring the current total to more than $3.19 billion as of Nov. 1. “Yale Tomorrow” never fell behind schedule, Provost Peter Salovey said in an e-mail Sunday, despite the financial crisis that hit in fiscal year 2009.

The members of the Yale Corporation authorized a $500 million increase of the original $3 billion “Yale Tomorrow” fundraising target when they approved the addition of two new residential colleges in June 2008 — just before the economic downturn. Before the expansion, the fundraising project would have reached the $3 billion mark a year early, Salovey said, adding that he is confident Yale will reach its new goal by the campaign’s close.

The “Yale Tomorrow” campaign is slated to finish on June 30, 2011.