Kate Hunter (@kahunter) is executive director at CASE Europe.
In higher education, data and management information proliferate. But how can advancement professionals make best use of the content of the 2012-13 Ross-CASE survey of philanthropic support for UK universities, published today?
Benchmarking among peer institutions is an instinctive and useful way to assess performance and effectiveness, year-on-year and over the long-term. The Ross-CASE survey is the authoritative source of information on UK higher education philanthropy. This year, 136 institutions in the United Kingdom (83 percent of the HE sector) supplied data, responding to a wide range of questions and industry performance indicators—such as number of donors, number of alumni donors, cash raised and new funds raised. An additional four institutions from the Netherlands and Ireland also participated: an encouraging glimpse of the future where philanthropic benchmarking among universities across Europe may be possible.
This year’s survey contained new content, and —for the first time, data was captured on donor types (in addition to alumni, university staff, parents of students and grateful patients) and gift ‘triggers.”
The survey’s key performance indicators show continued growth:
- Cash raised in 2012-13 reached £659 million, an all-time high.
- Donor numbers also grew, reaching 223,350, up 6 percent on the previous year.
- Alumni donors increased to 174,000, up 60 percent during the past six years. This is evidence of philanthropy becoming increasingly “normalised” among university communities.
So far so good. There are also continued challenges:
- Alumni participation remains static at around 1.9 percent.
- The proportion of philanthropy raised by Oxbridge is up slightly at 49 percent (compared to 45 percent in previous years).
- More than half of the institutions participating in the survey (77) are described as having an “emerging fundraising” programme. Ten years after the Thomas report, it appears that fundraising for some institutions remains somewhat fragile and not fully embedded. Following the 2012 Pearce review of UK HE philanthropy, CASE is working with Universities UK to analyse and understand how effective institution-wide engagement with fundraising, particularly among more of the academic community, can support success.
The Ross-CASE survey provides an estimate of the impact of philanthropy on the higher education sector but its real value is for practitioners and institutions. Using the detail of the content to understand efficacy will drive increased professionalism, and in cases, investment. Better data equals better fundraising and greater philanthropy.