College Fundraising Flattens in Another Blow From Pandemic

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Charitable giving to U.S. colleges fell flat last year as the pandemic upended another aspect of higher education.

Schools took in $49.5 billion in the most recent fiscal year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Council for Advancement & Support of Education. The total, essentially unchanged from the prior year, marks the first time since 2009 that contributions haven’t risen. For most schools, the survey represents the 12 months through June.

“Without the pandemic, giving probably would have been up and been a very good year,” Ann Kaplan, who directs the survey, said in an interview.

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore topped the fundraising list for the second straight year, with $1.5 billion. Stanford University followed with $1.36 billion and Harvard University took in $1.2 billion.

The Covid-19 pandemic is putting colleges under increasing financial pressure. With enrollments down, they’re collecting less revenue from students in dorms and dining halls. They’re also racking up new expenses for Covid-19 tests, retrofits such as adding plexiglass and upgraded technology.

College Fundraising Flattens in Another Blow From Pandemic

Johns Hopkins said its tally includes money from the Gates, W.P. Carey and Stavros Niarchos foundations, Michael Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies, in addition to anonymous donors supporting a building project in Washington, D.C. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

Almost 900 colleges and universities responded to the survey, and CASE estimated a total for institutions that didn’t participate.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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