Charitable gifts to colleges and other educational institutions rebounded in 2013 thanks to a recovering economy, a booming stock market, and the cultivation of major donors, says a new report by Blackbaud, a company that makes fund-raising technology.
Overall gifts to education rose 6.5 percent in 2013, and online giving to education was up 14.4 percent, says the “Charitable Giving Report.” Giving to charities of all kinds grew an average of 4.9 percent, while online giving grew 13.5 percent, the report says. Blackbaud tracked data from 4,129 nonprofit organizations representing $12.5-billion in total giving last year.
The report did not provide a breakdown of giving to the higher-education sector.
John Lippincott, president of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, told the authors of the report that colleges that “spent a lot of time listening to their donors during the worst of the recession” are seeing the payoff today. “We are now back to normal rates of growth in the aftermath of the recession,” he said.
Mr. Lippincott said that, to cultivate major donors, colleges must offer them “a level of engagement with the institution beyond simply the transaction of the gift.” That typically involves asking donors to serve in advisory or governance roles for the colleges, he said.
Institutions that want to cultivate so-called Millennial donors—those born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s—must offer them opportunities to have a “meaningful and immediate impact,” Mr. Lippincott said. Colleges must get those donors into the habit of giving, he said, and social media are a natural avenue for that effort.