Raising money via the internet comes with its drawbacks, Germain said. Alums are much less likely to hand over big donations online. Face to face, he said, it’s much harder to say no.

“There’s always some debate about how much colleges should rely on social media,” Germain said. “It’s always easier to make a small donation online.”

College fundraising rose by less than 1 percent in 2010. Private liberals arts campuses saw the largest donor increase at 2.9 percent from 2009 to 2010, and “specialized private institutions” saw a staggering 20 percent drop last year, according to CAE.

Donations from foundations grew by 2 percent in 2010 and by 2.4 percent among corporations.

The jump in higher education donations could partly result from a renewed willingness to ask for larger checks as the national economy recovers and alumni become more apt to sign a check with an extra zero or two.

“I think that colleges and universities are asking more since there was a lull for a few years,” Gasman said. “The more you ask, the more you receive. It was quite difficult to ask for a few years.”


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