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University ranks near top of foundation giving nationwide

Corporate giving lags due to faculty size, Sweeney says


“[T]he campaign and gifts from alumni created over 500 endowed scholarships, 67 endowed professorships, 97 endowed fellowships, and over 400 other endowments.” — University spokesperson McGregor McCance

The Advancements and Communications Committee of the Board of Visitors met Thursday afternoon to discuss the University’s fundraising results for the past fiscal year. Alumni giving, corporate giving, foundation giving and friend giving were all addressed, and the University ranked very high among public institutions in most of these categories.

Such fundraising efforts have had an especially significant impact on the University in light of the recently completed capital campaign, an extensive fundraising project to raise money for a large swath of University programs. Fundraising from alumni giving alone helped complete 40 percent of the $3 billion campaign goal. University spokesperson McGregor McCance said campaign gifts had a lasting impact on the University.

“Beyond the obvious outcomes — like the South Lawn or Robertson Hall or the John Paul Jones Arena — the campaign and gifts from alumni created over 500 endowed scholarships, 67 endowed professorships, 97 endowed fellowships, and over 400 other endowments,” McCance said in an email. “These are scattered across the University’s schools and units and their impact is far-reaching. The impact of endowed gifts will be seen for generations to come.”

On the whole, contributions to higher education institutions have increased nationwide — in 2013, nationwide fundraising for universities reached a new high of $33.8 billion. The University comes close to the top 10 fundraising institutions in the country, but ultimately falls about $200 million dollars short.

The top 10, including Stanford, Harvard and the University of Southern California, together raised a 17.3 percent of the total $33.8 billion. Compared to other Virginia state schools, however, the University easily claims the top fundraising institution spot.

Bob Sweeney, the University vice president of advancement and communications, said the 2013 fiscal year was better than it appears on paper.

“When you look at these huge-sized schools, for example Penn State, the only way you can benchmark it in an effective way is to look [at] it per student or per alumni,” Sweeney said. “When we go by a cash-flow per student basis, we’re ranked only number two to UCLA among the public schools.”

Sweeney specifically said the University is performing better than it may appear in alumni giving. Many families gave through their foundations rather than personally, which, Sweeney said, deflated the individual alumni giving totals.

“[Those gifts] will be counted in foundational giving rather than individual giving,” he said. “If you take a look at our alumni participation, at about 18 percent, we are number one among our public peers in alumni participation.”

Additionally, the University has been very successful among other higher education institutions in terms of the average alumni gift.

“The average alumni gift is a little over $1,900, which puts us relatively in the middle of the cohort,” Sweeney said. “Adjusted for size, we’re number one among the public [universities]. One of the areas in which we’re one of the strongest in the country is in our parent giving. We are well within the mainstream of the elite private universities that we are competing against.”

Sweeney said the University’s lagging corporate giving may be due to its smaller faculty size, which is not taken into consideration.

“If you take a look at corporate giving, we’re in the lower third,” Sweeney said. “We have to look at how … we leverage the very best corporate donations to the University, with philanthropy only being a piece of it. But, interestingly enough, if you look at corporate giving per faculty, we move up to almost the middle of the pack, which is really impressive work given the size of our faculty.”

Overall, the University is in a very good position both nationwide and statewide in terms of fundraising and donations, Sweeney said.

“If you look at our performance from last year, there is almost no question that we will either lead the public universities or be in the top two or three in performance in virtually every area,” Sweeney said. “We are going to move up among the higher private institutions.”


Published February 20, 2014 in FP test, News

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