- Eight out of 19 charitable donations of $100 million or more went to public institutions in 2017, including the Helen Diller Foundation's $500 million gift to the University of California at San Francisco — the largest gift in the UC system's history, reports The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
- Public institutions this year have projected 3.9% growth in fund raising, while private colleges and universities may only see a .8% gain, according to a survey of education administrators by Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
- The rise in gifts to public schools could be explained by donors wanting to give their money to help those institutions with access and social mobility missions, according to The Chronicle, citing an expert. Other reasons include greater investment in appealing to wealthy donors, having more alumni to reach out to, and promoting the need for fund raising beyond just "keeping the lights on."
As public institutions see a decline in funding — research shows states are spending around $9 billion less on higher education than they were in 2008 — they need to do a better job of reaching out to donors. And results from this year show public institutions are taking steps to maximize donor relations and gifts.
Statistics show 70% of the wealth in higher ed is concentrated within the top 20 institutions, while nearly one-third of smaller institutions operated in debt during fiscal 2016. However, the trend of more donations going toward public institutions has the potential to impact these numbers, especially as charitable giving is expected to increase 3.7% this year.
Education Dive spoke with major foundation leaders this year, and many noted they are more likely to direct funds toward institutions promoting equitable access, emphasizing free exchange of ideas and representing multiple campuses or organizations. Travis Reindl, a senior communications officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, explained:
"We know that the opportunity to earn a credential depends on race or socioeconomic status – and it shouldn’t. A high-income student is five times more likely to have a degree by 24 than a low-income student," said Reindl. "That is why we are working with and investing in a wide range of institutions and organizations on strategies designed to help many more students get to and through college and to eliminate gaps in attainment according to race and income."