Higher ed fundraising jumps amid recovering economy, social media use

Universities expect the fundraising increase to continue through 2011.

Seven in 10 colleges and universities have recorded an uptick in donations this year after historic decreases in 2009-10, and experts said Facebook and Twitter adoption could be a driving force behind the optimism among campus fundraisers.

Ten percent of campuses reported “significant increases” over the past six months and 35 percent reported “moderate increases” in a survey released April 7. Twenty-two percent of colleges recorded a “little increase” in donations.

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The survey, conducted by Campus Management Corp. – maker of the Talisma Fundraising donor management system – proved drastically different than similar surveys and reports detailing the state of higher-education fundraising during the country’s economic downturn.

Almost every institution polled – 94 percent – said fundraising officials expect the increase in donor activity to continue into the second half of 2011, with 13 percent anticipating a “significant increase.” Six percent of campuses expect no increase in donor activity.

Contributions to colleges and universities fell by 11.9 percent in 2009, and alumni giving dropped sharply, according to the Council for Aid to Education (CAE), an organization that tracks educational donations nationwide.

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.

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