VC, UHV report fundraising improves with economy

Feb. 14, 2012 at 8:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 14, 2012 at 8:15 p.m.

Victoria College and the University of Houston-Victoria seem to fall in line with the rest of the nation when it comes to being successful in recent fundraising efforts.

Jennifer Yancey, vice president of college advancement and external affairs, said VC's annual giving campaign is up about 30 percent compared to this time last year.

The direct mail fundraiser that raises money for scholarships and endowments, among other things, is only part of VC's fundraising efforts. Yancey said this fiscal year's fundraising may have been helped by highlighting the recipients of VC scholarships.

"We showed that VC serves Victoria and seven surrounding communities. Contributions to our campaign benefit students from the entire VC service area," she said.

Across campus, UHV reported it has reached 71 percent of its goal for private fundraising this fiscal year.

Amy Mundy, director of corporate and foundation relations at UHV, said her department collects funds for scholarships for all UHV students.

This year's fundraising seems to be ahead of last year, but the more UHV continues to grow, the more support it needs, Mundy said.

She said she thinks the community is more interested in and aware of the importance of education to the region.

"Education is a tool for future workforce, for our communities to do well, for our businesses to do well and to expand cultural influences in the community," she said.

Across the nation, 99 percent of colleges also had a pretty good fundraising year.

For the 1 percent of super-wealthy elite, it was even better.

The latest annual college fundraising figures out Wednesday show donations to colleges and universities rose 8.2 percent in fiscal 2011, crossing back over the $30 billion mark for just the second time ever, and improving many schools' financial footing after several lean years due to the economic downturn.

But the very richest universities accounted for nearly half the growth: Of the $30.3 billion collected by colleges and universities nationwide, $8.2 billion - or 27 percent - was raised by just the top 20 institutions. At those universities, fundraising was 15.3 percent higher than the year before, widening an already yawning wealth gap at the top of higher education.

Stanford University, which recently broke an all-time record by completing a five-year, $6.2 billion fundraising campaign, led with $709.4 million collected in fiscal 2011, followed by Harvard ($639.2 million) and Yale ($580.3 million). Rounding out the list were private universities such as Columbia and Johns Hopkins, as well as elite public universities such as UCLA and the Universities of Texas, Wisconsin and North Carolina. Most campuses on the list have major medical schools and affiliated research centers, though No. 4 MIT ($534 million) is an exception.

In fact, the top 20 schools account for 2 percent of the 1,009 respondents to the annual Voluntary Support of Education survey by Council for Aid to Education. But they highlight a fundraising distribution that calls to mind last year's Occupy protests against U.S. income inequality. In fact, the fundraising distribution in higher education is more skewed than income: The top 25 percent of universities account for 86 percent of all private dollars raised for higher education, and the bottom quarter just 1 percent.

For colleges, the rich-get-richer trend feeds on itself in multiple ways. Already-wealthy universities can afford more staff to raise funds, and they have a disproportionate share of wealthy alumni. But they're also able to attract the most promising researchers, which helps them win the competition for dollars from philanthropists who want their money to have the best chance of creating new knowledge.

"The institutions that raise the most, they raise the most because they have a case to make for needing that much support," said survey director Ann Kaplan.

The fundraising numbers come a few weeks after another report showed that college endowments - the investments universities hold to generate income in support of their mission - have also nearly recovered from a hit that began with 2008 stock market crash and forced many schools to make painful budget cuts.



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