[New Report] 3 Key Findings for University Fundraising

July 18, 2017 Joe Garecht

This blog post originally appeared in npENGAGE.

Blackbaud recently released its fifth annual Charitable Giving Report, and it offers major lessons for institutions of higher education looking to increase fundraising capacity over the coming years. The Report analyzes over $23 billion in charitable giving in 2016 to summarize what is working, and what isn’t, for non-profits across the United States.

Here are 3 major lessons for colleges and universities from this year’s Charitable Giving Report:

1. Giving to Colleges and Universities is Up, But Growing Slowly

Across non-profit sectors, charitable giving rose by 1% in 2016. The increase in giving to colleges and universities was slightly higher, at 1.5%.  Thus, while higher education giving is up, the increase is extremely moderate.

Because of this, colleges wishing to outpace the sector as a whole will need to focus on embracing best practices in donor communications, retention, and stewardship.  Likewise, universities seeking sustained philanthropic growth will need to develop a clear plan for engaging young alumni early and developing them into the next generation of annual and major givers.  Finally, schools will need to make smart decisions about resource deployment based on donor analytics and internal data.

2. Online Fundraising is Creating Big Opportunities for Schools

The strongest growth in charitable giving across all fundraising strategies in 2016 was in online giving Across all sectors, online giving grew 7.6%, with online giving to higher education growing a whopping 12.3% year over year.  On average, colleges and universities are now raising over 4% of their total gifts online, a number that continues to grow.

Schools that are seeking to raise more money will need to place an increasing focus on their online fundraising capacity.  This includes creating a seamless giving experience online, optimizing the school’s website and social media presences, and developing a strong e-mail solicitation program.  Forward-thinking schools should also be exploring online peer-to-peer and crowdfunding campaigns to activate more students, alumni and families to give.

3. Year-End Giving is Essential for University Fundraising

The Charitable Giving Report shows that December continues to be the largest giving month for colleges and universities.  On average, institutions of higher education raise 17.7% of all of their charitable donations during the final month of the year.

Because such a large share of gifts to colleges and universities is made during December, schools that want to increase fundraising should place a premium on sharpening their year-end fundraising strategies.  This includes better donor messaging, increased targeting of messages, and the use of multi-channel communications to reach donors prior to the year-end.

The second most important month for college and university giving was June, which many school fundraisers treat as a “mini year-end,” raising money after graduation but before alumni and families leave for summer trips.  10.5% of all gifts to higher education institutions came in June.  Thus, school development teams should take a look at their May / June donor communications and ask strategies to see where they can be strengthened.

See More Insights by Reading the 5th Annual Charitable Giving Report Spotlight: How Fundraising Performed in the Higher Education Sector in 2016

The Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report is chock full of data and insights for college and university fundraisers, including in-depth reporting on giving trends, online fundraising, and more.  You can get your free copy of the Charitable Giving Report here:

Don’t miss out! The Report will make a huge difference in helping your college or university fundraising in the coming year. Get your copy today!

New Report on University Fundraising


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