Financial contributions to surveyed universities and colleges have increased in 2010.
While the amount of charitable contributions for colleges and universities decreased by approximately 12 percent in 2009, according to a study by the Council for Aid to Education, more than half of those institutions surveyed, including Temple, reported an increase in funds last year.
According to the CAE survey, in 2010, Temple ranked fifth among Pennsylvania schools for the most contributions raised approximately $59 million.
The list includes the University of Pennsylvania, which raised a little more than $380 million, followed by Penn State University with approximately $195 million, the University of Pittsburgh with nearly $110 million and Carnegie Mellon University with close to $73 million.
Access to Excellence, Temple’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign formally introduced in 2002, helped create “dramatic increases” from private and public donors, Senior Vice President for Institutional Advancement David Unruh said. The campaign concluded in 2009 and Temple raised $380 million, which was $30 million more than its projected goal.
“That mitigated some of the downturn that we saw,” Unruh said, referring to the economy. “We’ve seen our giving grow over the last 10 years by about 4 percent per year, increasing every year.”
The campaign primarily focused on constructing new and renovated facilities, as well as funding scholarships and research initiatives. An objective of the campaign was to attract private philanthropists to fill the void state funding provided approximately 15 years ago, Unruh said.
With stringent funding from the state, Michael Leeds, a professor of economics and the director of graduate studies in economics said Temple had to rely on new revenue sources.
“In a way, Pennsylvania’s dismal record in funding higher education has lessened the shock,” Leeds said in an e-mail. “The cuts are not as deep here because there is less to cut.”
Top private research universities in the nation are known to acquire a larger percentage of federal funds. Unruh said the amount of money universities receive is, in part, a reflection of the size of their alumni population and the level of the university’s prestige.
Senior speech pathology major Alexis Johnson said she plans to be an alumni donor.
“Once I get my foot in the door with my career and everything, absolutely,” Johnson said, “especially toward different organizations on campus.”
Currently, of Temple’s 265,000 living alumni, the participation rate or the amount of alumni contributing annually is approximately 8 percent, adding approximately 20 percent to the university’s contribution total, Unruh said.
Additional contribution funds include, on average, 48 percent from corporate, foundation and other sources and the remaining 32 percent came from other individuals, excluding alumni, Unruh said.
“An outcome of the campaign was that for the first time, we had a much broader alumni participation. We grew the number of people giving at every level dramatically,” Unruh said. “We demonstrated that Temple can be a destination for philanthropic support and alumni are willing to support the institution at levels that have not historically been realized.”
Unruh added that alumni participation often determines whether a university is viewed as a worthy investment for educational resources and how it is part of the ranking process for publications, such as U.S. News & World Report.
However, Temple may not be able to depend on new alumni for contributions as much as the older alumni, as student debt continues to be an issue, Leeds said.
Senior sociology major Ben Klein said he does not expect to contribute as an alumni when he graduates.
“It will take a little while,” Klein said of his expected job search. “I probably won’t have any money yet.”
The Office of Alumni Relations plans to engage alumni further with future outreach initiatives and events. Unruh said he is beginning a strategy for the next major campaign to promote contributions.
“One of the things we have to do institutionally is expand our engagement of alumni,” Unruh said. “I think we will continue to see very gradual returns to giving, but I would expect the higher education philanthropy will rebound faster than philanthropy to other places.”
Connor Showalter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.