The College Donor Digest

Philanthropy Milestone Hides Top-Heavy Giving

February 19, 2019 | Joe DeGraff

Harvard University (pictured above) raised $1.42 billion in fiscal year 2018.

In late 2017, the Tax Cut and Jobs act passed in Congress doubling the standard deduction. Some philanthropy experts feared the doubling of the standard deduction would contribute to a drop in charitable giving because fewer Americans would itemize, preventing them from taking advantage of the charitable deduction.

With new data from the Council on Aid to Education report, the most apocalyptic predictions were proven wrong. Overall giving to higher education increased to $46.73 billion in fiscal year 2018, a 7.2% year-over-year.

But the new record breaking milestone hides a thorny truth. Giving to higher education, much like our nation’s growing wealth inequality, flows mostly to well-heeled institutions. The top 10 fundraisers, which mostly include Ivy League or large public universities, collected 18% of all donations. Six out of the seven nine-figure gifts went the top 20 fundraisers.

It’s unquestionable that many of the top fundraisers have worthwhile educational programming. But does the University of California - Los Angeles, a school that earned an F for liberal arts standards on ACTA’s What Will They Learn, deserve donor goodwill to the tune of $790 million?

There are hundreds of intuitions and campus programs that are delivering high quality, liberal arts programming for a fraction of the cost. FAR can help you, the higher education donor, find an initiative worthy of your philanthropy.


Leave a Comment

  • The College Donor Digest

Share this Article

Related Articles

Donors Can Save Schools with Creative Liberal Arts Gifts

The Growing Popularity of Donor-Advised Funds and Education

Year-End Tax Tips for the Higher Ed Donor (2018 Edition)

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.