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Donations Fall in FY 2010

By Zoe A. Y. Weinberg, Crimson Staff Writer

Donations to Harvard for fiscal year 2010 totaled $596.96 million, placing it second among colleges and universities across the nation, according to an annual survey released earlier this week by the Council for Aid to Education.

Harvard saw a 0.8 percent decrease from 2009 in total donations. Overall, donations to colleges and universities across the nation rose 0.5 percent from 2009, totaling $28 billion. This figure is roughly equal to the amount donated in 2006.

However, when adjusted for inflation, the amount fell by 0.6 percent since 2009, and is 0.8 percent lower than in 2006.

Stanford topped the list with $598.89 million in giving, a 6.4 percent decrease from last year. Harvard was followed by Johns Hopkins and the University of Southern California.

“Though lackluster, the findings are more sanguine than those of last year,” the report said. Last year, donations decreased by about 11.9 percent.

“The study indicates that the fundraising nadir was reached in 2009 but that a full recovery is yet to materialize,” the report said.

Harvard officials have sounded cautious notes of optimism about the University’s fundraising performance as it gears up to launch its long-delayed capital campaign.

“Last year, Harvard fundraising held steady despite the unpredictable economic circumstances that all alumni and donors faced,” said Tamara E. Rogers,  Harvard’s vice president for alumni affairs and development, in a statement. “While fundraising results rise and fall, and in any individual year there are good quarters and bad quarters, so far this fiscal year we are very pleased with the momentum that we have seen.”

According to the report, this trend may indicate that donors’ willingness to give may lag behind the recovery of the stock market.

“We’re still not out of the woods. Charitable contributions to education are recovering very slowly,” said director of the survey Ann E. Kaplan in a statement.

“Still, historical patterns show that the pace of the recovery in charitable giving usually reflects overall economic recovery. As long as the economy continues to improve, we can expect further improvement in giving, even if incremental at first.”

The report showed that corporate and foundation giving increased in 2010 by about two percent. Corporate donations represent about 17 percent, and foundation giving represents 30 percent of total donations.

Alumni giving has decreased by 0.4 percent overall. The average amount of each alumni donation also dropped by 0.4 percent.

This decrease is far less dramatic than last year, which witnessed an 18 percent drop in alumni donations. Alumni donations account for about a quarter of all donations to universities and colleges.

The report indicated that alumni participation has been declining for many years, even before the financial crisis.

— Staff writer Zoe A. Y. Weinberg can be reached at

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