With state funding for UC declining and budget reductions hitting the system’s campuses, another well of funds is also drying up in the form of donations.
According to a report by the Council for Aid to Education, charitable contributions to universities and colleges diminished by 11.9 percent, down from $31.60 billion to $27.85 billion.
This is the largest decline since 1975 when donations fell by 11.5 percent.
Alumni contributions dropped 18 percent, from $8.7 billion to $7.13 billion despite a 3 percent increase in the number of alumni on record. Endowments also hit a sharp loss of 22.3 percent, which CAE attributed to lackluster investment and the drop off in contributions.
“We knew that this was going to be a bad year,” said Ann E. Kaplan, director of the survey, in an interview with the Associated Press. “Nothing that came out of the numbers surprised me very much.”
Despite this year’s rough economy, universities were still able to gather large sums. Three UCs raised enough money to place in the top 20 institutions with the largest total contributions.
UCLA raised $351.69 million, a drop from $465.65 million. UC San Francisco raised $300.42 million, about $66 million short of 2008. And UC Berkeley netted $255.10 million or $30.25 million less of its previous goal. These losses ranged from a high of 23 percent for UCLA to a low of 10.6 percent for UC Berkeley.
UC Davis fundraising emerged from 2009 in better shape relative to other institutions. According to Cheryl Brown Lohsé, associate vice chancellor of development in an e-mail interview, UC Davis’s total contributions for 2008 to 2009 reached $92.50 million, a decline of $7.4 million or 7.4 percent from the previous year. The amount represented outright and deferred giving. It did not include pledges, which are paid over time.
“We recognize and respect that some of our supporters are experiencing financial challenges,” Lohsé said. “And understand that some will make smaller gifts or perhaps delay their gifts for the time being.”
Lohsé said that currently, philanthropy as a source of funds is more important due to the decline in state revenue. Despite this grim reality, she remains confident and plans to step up her efforts in obtaining fundraising money. Lohsé indicated that the Office of Development is coordinating efforts with volunteers and other elements of the campus to increase outreach and donations.
“We believe that UC Davis will continue to receive gifts at strong and increasing levels in the future because of the high quality of its students and faculty and the important work that is done here,” Lohsé said.
UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi expressed her support for reaching out to donors, whose gifts she believes are crucial to assisting the university.
“In human terms, our students and their families are among those affected most, through the sudden increases in student fees,” Katehi said in a statement. “I am personally committed to pursuing philanthropic support, among other solutions, in order to keep the future of UC Davis and its students bright.”
Students who benefit from philanthropy also emphasized their belief in the importance of giving.
“In an economy that is very unstable where money is scarce when it comes to education – especially with the tuition increase – students like me have a hard time paying for college,” said Son Nguyen, a first-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major.
Nguyen said he was able to concentrate on his studies because donations helped him buy books and lessen financial concerns.
“These donations helped me greatly with my first year,” Nguyen said. “So one day I will donate back into the university so I can help someone get closers to their goals.”
LESLIE TSAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.