The College Donor Digest

Donor Tips: Gearing Up for Year-End Giving

November 22, 2022 | Emily Burden Rees

According to Nonprofits Source, “30% of all annual giving occurs in December, and 10% of that happens within the last three days of the year.” Knowing that the holiday season (and tax deductions) inspires donors’ charitable spirits, nonprofits issue a rush of solicitations and calls to action.  

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education's annual survey reported that giving to colleges and universities reached $53 billion in fiscal year 2020–2021. Due to current lower enrollments and high inflation, institutions are leading aggressive development campaigns to raise funds. Faced with a flood of charitable solicitations, donors can feel overwhelmed, but there are several resources they can use to determine which schools could most benefit from their support. 

First, know how much you want to give. Look at your financial portfolio, consult your financial advisor, and assess your financial and charitable goals. Treasure is a tool for great change when used well. 

Second, explore the data regarding the college or university’s financial health and academic performance. HowCollegesSpendMoney.com is an ACTA initiative that presents spending data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System through easily accessible charts. Donors can find the rate of spending per student on administrative expenses, instructional expenses, and student services expenses, as well as inflation-adjusted tuition and graduation rates.  

Donors who are concerned about academic quality can visit WhatWillTheyLearn.com. ACTA’s website assesses the core curricular requirements of more than 1,100 liberal arts institutions. Users can create customized comparisons based on curriculum, region, four-year graduation rate, price, and institutional type.  

Third, learn more about an institution’s mission and programming by getting in touch with a development officer. Rather than relying on emails or letters from a college, establish a connection within the development office or the program that you are interested in supporting. It is often possible to earmark funds for a specific program, such as an honors college.  

Wise giving has the power to renew American higher education. When sifting through year-end solicitations, look for the data points that are important to you to ensure that your gift can have a meaningful impact. 

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The Fund for Academic Renewal is a program of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization as defined by Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All contributions to FAR are fully tax-deductible to the maximum extent provided by law.