Stanford University tops donation list in 2013

Those who don't believe in the old adage, "the grass is always greener on the other side," clearly have never been to Palo Alto.

Stanford University was the top academic institution in terms of donations collected in 2013 with $931 million, according to a report released today by the Council for Aid to Education. This is Stanford's tenth year in a row at the top of this category.

In 2012, The Cardinals pinnacled the $1 billion mark in donations, setting a single-year record, Bloomberg reports. The cause of this success isn't a fluke, either. Stanford has worked hard to develop relationships with alumni in addition to streamlining the donation process - they now accept donations online too.

"What came to fruition didn't just come in one year," Ann Kaplan, director of the council's survey, told Bloomberg in a phone interview. "It means there's some careful planning. They've been either in campaigns or cultivating the connections."

Harvard University, which ranked second on the list with $792 million, just introduced a $6.5 billion fundraising campaign that will run through 2018. The Cambridge, Mass. university also accepts online donations through its website.

National success for universities
If 2014 is to be anything like the previous fiscal year, universities could be in for another lump sum of cash.

2013 saw the highest total donation sum recorded in the history of the CAE's "Voluntary Support of Education" survey at $33 billion, which was over $2 billion more than the previous historical high, the NonProfit Times reported. CAE has managed the VSE since 1957, according to its website. Almost 60 percent of schools said they raised more than in 2012, which was a historically bad year for fundraising for universities.

It's likely that most of these institutions have implemented strong collection campaigns, but maybe not to the extent that Harvard has. Nevertheless, donations from alumni increased the most out of any other group - up 17 percent.

The significant rise in that statistic may have had to do something with the fact that two of the three 9-figure donations received by universities in 2013 were personal gifts. Stanford received $151 million from billionaire alum John Arrillaga, and Southern California received an anonymous $142 million donation. 

Yet, while the average gift per donating alumnus increased 18 percent, the number of graduates making donations slightly declined from 9.2 percent in 2012 to 8.7 in 2013, Bloomberg added.

Back to News