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Higher Education Institutions: Trends & Analysis from Giving USA 2021

February 17, 2022


Giving USA 2021: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for 2020, the annual estimates of charitable giving for 2020 by Giving USA Foundation, found that giving reached more than $471 billion—with education reaching $71.34 billion in total contributions—the highest totals in history for both.

Key trends in giving to education in 2020 included:

  • Giving from individuals—the largest source, totaling 69% of all 2020 contributions—increased from 2019. The increase was tied largely to the continued outsized impact of megagifts and giving to donor-advised funds (DAFs). Other giving sources were foundations (19%), bequests (9%), and corporations (4%). Giving USA does not track giving by source specifically to education, which includes higher and secondary education institutions and organizations supporting student success. However, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) reported that 2020 fiscal year giving included 22.3% by alumni and 17.4% by non-alumni (totaling 39.7% by individuals), 33.2% by corporations, 13.6% by other—which includes DAFs—and 13.4% by corporations. Individuals influence many sources of giving to education through family foundations, DAFs, bequest gifts, and family-owned businesses.
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Giving USA 2018: Implications for Higher Ed

July 20, 2018

According to Giving USA 2018: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2017, total charitable giving in the United States grew by 5.2 percent to $410.02 billion in 2017. This marks the highest total amount given in the 40 years Giving USA has tracked this data, both in current dollars and when adjusted for inflation.

With this milestone year, U.S. giving continues a steady growth trend over the past eight years, indicating a positive climate for philanthropy. Giving to every category of recipient organizations increased when measured in current dollars, except for international affairs, which dropped by 4.4 percent. 

What this Means for Colleges and Universities:

Giving USA estimates that giving to education organizations (of which giving to higher education typically accounts for about 70 percent of the total) increased 6.2 percent in 2017 to $58.9 billion. The Council for Aid to Education’s Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) survey shows that individual giving (alumni and non-alumni) to higher education increased by 6.3 percent, a strong rebound from 2016, with alumni contributions growing by a significant 14.5 percent, foundations by 5.5 percent, and corporations holding steady at the 2016 level.

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Giving USA 2016 and the Implications for Higher Education Advancement

September 15, 2016

As we have had some time now to absorb the data on 2015 charitable giving provided by the release of the Giving USA 2016 report, we thought it would be helpful to look at the implications of the data for those fundraisers involved in higher education advancement.

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Recent Capital Campaign Trends in Education

November 13, 2015
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Fundraising to Pay Off Nonprofit Debt

August 20, 2015

Have you ever considered raising philanthropic funds to reduce or eliminate your organization’s debt?

Raising funds for debt relief is good in theory, but requires a specific approach to gain support from donors. A key to fundraising is aligning the needs of the organization with the philanthropic goals of your donors. Yet, paying off debt is not often high on a donor’s list of projects they want to support.

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Hiring a VP for Advancement? 8 early indicators for success

July 30, 2015

We’ve been asked many times by our client organizations what factors are most important to look for in candidates for Vice President for Advancement positions. Here are  a few key questions that you can ask when hiring development staff that will help you understand their ability to be successful.

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Is Your Development Operation Road-Worthy? Time to Assess

July 07, 2015

If a client is just beginning to explore the notion of a feasibility study and an eventual campaign, JGA may offer what we call an Initial Assessment — better known internally as a “Kick the Tires” assessment. Just as an early 20th-century motorist might kick the tires of a new vehicle to determine the road-worthiness of its tires, it can be extremely important to do the same with a development department before it sets out on the challenging and winding road of a campaign.

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The President’s Role in a Campaign: 10 Key Responsibilities

May 29, 2015

Presidential involvement is a crucial component of campaign success | A campaign will likely be one of the most important undertakings of a presidency and can transform an institution. The following list outlines the president’s top responsibilities in ensuring campaign success.

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Keys to a Master Fundraiser’s Success

May 20, 2015

During my years at JGA I have had the opportunity to work with several score development officers. When it comes to effectively soliciting gifts, there is one who I would put at the head of the class. This individual wishes to remain anonymous, so I’ll refer to him as “Joe.”

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5 Keys to Using Storytelling in Fundraising

May 06, 2015

Storytelling plays a powerful role in communicating your mission to donors. Through stories, you share your institutional history, values, and priorities -- creating a connection between you, your institution, and your donors.

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