Donations to colleges and universities have increased since 2016, according to a survey released Feb. 6 by the Council for Aid to Education.
The overall donations reached $43.6 billion for the 2017 fiscal year, which was a 6.3 percent increase from the previous year. An increase in alumni donations is mainly responsible for the boost, but non-alumni and organization contributions also played an important role. One of the reasons for this increase, according to the CAE, is that improved economic stability has allowed more people to donate.
The report also mentions that any predictions for the 2018 fiscal year are still uncertain. According to the policies from the 2017 Republican tax bill, many people would have less of an incentive to use their tax deductions for donations.
"The first half of the fiscal year would have been quite good," said Ann Kaplan, vice president of the CAE. "The stock market would have been very high."
The second half could be good, assuming that the market stays stable, she said.
The CAE also collects fundraising data from specific institutions, including schools in the UNC-system. UNC-Chapel Hill raised over $325 million during the 2017 fiscal year.
These findings also come at a time when UNC is in the midst of its own fundraising initiative, the Campaign for Carolina. The campaign aims to reach $4.25 billion worth of donations by the end of 2022 and is nearly halfway toward that goal. It is the second largest fundraising endeavor among any American public university.
"At a public university, public funding has been on the decline," said Kim Elenez, chief marketing officer at the UNC Development Office. "Private support has become more and more important."
The Campaign for Carolina has been reaching out for donations by keeping in regular contact with alumni and university sponsors, as well as reaching out for private donations. According to the campaign's official website, 22 percent of alumni have donated and 41 percent of all donations have come from non-alumni, for a total of over 144,000 donors.
The Campaign for Carolina has strived to attract a wide variety of donors by promising to spend the money on an array of causes. In this way, donors are able to direct their contribution to a specific category, such as athletics, arts or public service initiatives.
UNC is hoping to use up to $1 billion of the campaign funds as additional scholarship money for students through programs such as the Carolina Covenant, as well as extra aid for middle-income students.
"The money we raise upholds our commitment to excellence, innovation and our public service mission," said Chancellor Carol Folt in an official campaign video.
"We don't want cost or debt to be a limiting factor for any student," she said.
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