February 11, 2010

College Donations

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With the recent economic decline, people have often had to cut back much of their spending that might be considered superfluous. Unfortunately, that tends to include donations to colleges. While universities cannot expect continued donations from those who are suffering from the deteriorating economy, the universities are still in a state of panic about where to turn in order to obtain necessary financial support to sustain university life.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Voluntary Support of Education survey declared the sharpest decline of donor gifts in its fifty-year history of reporting on private financial giving to universities. The most astonishing part of this is that in 2008, the survey reported the overall highest amount of money from private donors. While many donors have not necessarily lost much money in the past year, many are nervous that they could at any moment and will not give as much money as they have in the past. Still, as the economy has slowly begun to turn around, so have the financial donations, showing that there is still hope for universities that have been hit hard by the recent trends in the economy.

It is not hard to see the effects of the economy on private donations considering every college has been hit. Private liberal-arts colleges have experienced a lack of funds more than any other type of college because they usually rely on fund raising as a large part of the finances they receive each year. The decline in donations depends on the area the school is in, the amount of longtime donors versus the amount of new donors, and other factors. Thus, although everyone has felt the problems associated with the declining economy, each school has been affected differently.

Cornell was in the top ten universities that raised the most money in 2009, but was the only one of these ten that did not receive as many financial donations as previous years. Cornell was number three in fund raising and increased by nine percent in 2009. This is largely in part to the $170-million donation of Sanford I. Weill, who endowed Cornell Weill Medical College in New York City. Also, Cornell has many longtime loyal donors who were asked by Cornell to give as much as possible if they could not give their usual large gifts that they had given for years past. Although alumni giving did not decrease, overall giving for university purposes did decrease by twenty-five percent in the past year. Still, like every other college across the country, it remains to be seen if Cornell’s finances will improve as the economy hopefully continues to steadily rise.

Original Author: Rachel Rabinowitz