The University completed a successful fiscal year 2012 in fundraising with a total of $543,905,260 in cash donations — the second-highest amount ever raised for Yale and the third-highest total for all U.S. colleges and universities this year, according to the Council for Aid to Education’s annual fundraising survey.

Vice President for Development Joan O’Neill said 78 percent of the cash donations were pledges made during the Yale Tomorrow campaign, which took place from September 2006 to June 2011. Donors filling their outstanding pledges after the conclusion of the campaign significantly bolstered Yale’s performance during the 2012 fiscal year, which ended on June 30, 2012. O’Neill said donations fell slightly from the fiscal year 2011 total of $580 million, the last year of the fundraising campaign.

“Yale’s second-biggest year is a big accomplishment, and it demonstrates the great success of the Yale Tomorrow campaign,” O’Neill said, “so we’re seeing the benefit of that.”

O’Neill said nearly 58 percent of the roughly $540 million raised in cash donations went into the University endowment, 26 percent went directly toward specified uses such as research funding and 14 percent was mostly split between facilities funding and unrestricted use. She added that donors are still deciding how to allocate the remaining small percentage of the donations.

University President Richard Levin said the large donation figure did not surprise him, adding that Yale received a nine-figure pledge and a number of eight-figure pledges during the campaign, so donors fulfilling some of those pledges this year added to the total.

He added that he does not expect the cash donation total to be larger for the 2013 fiscal year because fewer pledges from the Yale Tomorrow campaign have yet to be paid off.

Harvard University and Stanford University were the two schools that outperformed Yale on the Council for Aid to Education’s annual fundraising survey, and Stanford set a fundraising record as the first college to surpass $1 billion in donations, counting $1.03 billion in 2012. On Dec. 31, 2011, Stanford concluded a $6.23 billion campaign called “The Stanford Challenge,” and the school’s fiscal year ended in August, creating a similar effect in the 2012 fiscal year that O’Neill said occurred after the Yale Tomorrow campaign. Harvard raised the second-highest amount with a total of $650 million. Members of the Stanford Development Office could not be reached for comment, and the Harvard Alumni Affairs and Development Office declined to comment.

O’Neill called Stanford’s performance a “huge accomplishment,” and said that receiving $1 billion is not out of question for Yale in the future and that “we have aspirations” to raise that amount. If the Development Office received many large gifts at the same time, it could be possible to break $1 billion, she said. The University is a relatively smaller school than Stanford, she added, and Yale College is the “biggest funding arm” in terms of alumni support.

The relative sizes of the different schools within the University differ significantly from the school sizes at Harvard and Stanford, O’Neill explained, adding that Yale has relatively smaller business and engineering schools, which can drive support for a university.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t have years we are able to outperform schools that are bigger than us,” O’Neill added.

The numbers released by the Council for Aid to Education reflect cash payments, but not pledges, Levin and O’Neill said, and colleges usually take both donations and pledges into account when measuring fundraising success.

O’Neill added that when taking pledges into consideration, in the 2013 fiscal year, the University is currently outperforming its fundraising efforts at this point last year.

Altogether, about 3,500 U.S. colleges and universities raised $31 billion, marking a 2.3 percent increase from fiscal year 2011 — a significantly lower change than the 8.2 percent increase in all giving from 2010 to 2011.