This chapter discusses why private research universities
differ in the sources and uses of their annual giving.
Sources and Uses of Annual Giving at
Private Research Universities
Christopher L. Smith, Ronald G. Ehrenberg
In 1998–99, Cornell and Duke universities were ranked second and third in the nation, respectively, in the volume of giving each received from external donors. That year, Cornell reported receiving $341.3 million in annual giving, and Duke reported receiving $331.0 million. The similarity in the total volume of giving that the two institutions received is misleading. Fiftyfour percent of Cornell’s gift total came from alumni, whereas only 15.3 percent of Duke’s gift total came from alumni.
Similarly, 79.7 percent of Cornell’s gift total came from individuals (alumni plus other individuals), but only 26.2 percent of Duke’s gifts came from individual donors. Cornell’s giving was clearly much more dependent on individuals than was Duke’s, and Duke’s was much more dependent, in turn, on corporations and foundations.
Institutions differ not only in the sources of their annual giving but also in their uses of such funds. For example, during the 1993–94 to 1997–98 period, the average percentages across seventy-eight private research universities of annual giving devoted to current expenditures, building and equipment, and enhancing the endowment were 53.5 percent, 14.5 percent, and 31.5 percent, respectively. However, there was wide variation across the institutions in each of these percentages, with the standard deviations of these percentages being 16.9, 12.1, and 15.5, respectively.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Atlantic Philanthropies (USA), Inc., supported this research through their support of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute. David Morgan, former vice president of the Council for Aid to Education (CAE), granted the authors access to the data files that underlie the CAE’s annual Voluntary Support of Education publication.