The steep drop came after a decade that saw college fundraising rise by about 4 percent annually. CAE’s report showed that even the largest institutions were not immune to the economic slump that started in fall 2008: the 20 top-fundraising universities in 2009 brought in $7.3 billion, or about $1.1 billion less than in 2008.

Universities saw a fundraising increase of less than 1 percent in 2010, up to $28 billion, according to the latest CAE statistics. Still, when adjusted for inflation, 2010 higher education contributions were down 8 percent compared to 2006 levels.

Alumni fundraising participation dipped from 10 percent in 2009 to 9.8 percent in 2010, according to the report. Alumni giving fell by 0.4 percent during 2010.

The 2010 CAE report said that while “the findings are more sanguine than those of last year,” a full recovery is yet to materialize.

“As in the economy as a whole, improvements in higher education,” the report said, “giving have been incremental so far.”

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