Education

Recent CASE Study Looks Into Majors Gifts in U.S. Higher Ed

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Only half the people giving the largest gifts to U.S. higher ed institutions are alumni, according to a recent study from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

“Our hope is that this information will serve as a unique asset to our members in understanding the nuances of transformative gifts and the role they play in fundraising,” said Cara Giacomini, CASE’s Vice President, Data, and Research and Technology.

The CASE Study of Principal Gifts to U.S. Colleges and Universities – conducted with support from the Bank of America – gives a look and insights into the transformative impact of major gifts at U.S. educational institutions. This is CASE’s first major study on principal gifts.

“As underscored in the research and supported by our own work with affluent clients, donors have continued to generously support causes and institutions they care about despite the stresses experienced during the pandemic and its aftermath. In the years ahead, institutions will need to invest in discerning these donor’s interests and values in order to continue to grow major gifts,” said William Jarvis, who heads strategic thought leadership in Bank of America’s Philanthropic Solutions Group.

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Among the findings are that 25 of 70 principal gifts reported to CASE through the study were for less than $5 million; that the median value of the largest gifts from individuals rose by 31% in inflation-adjusted terms 2005-2021; that the median largest gifts from foundations rose by 35% 2005-2021; and that while many donors have longstanding ties to the receiving institutions, a sizable minority are newcomers.

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“The study shows that institutions of all types should be vigilant in identifying and cultivating supporters,” said Giacomini. “One can never be sure when—or from what source—a gift may come that can have a dramatic impact on the institution for years to come.”

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