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University donors down, revenue up

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Most colleges and universities across the U.S. saw their revenue increase in 2006, but the number of people donating fell, a new study says.

Private and public universities saw revenues jump 6.5 percent and 6.3 respectively in 2006, marking a second year of strong growth, says the Index of University and Fundraising Performance, published by Target Analysis Group.

At the same time, the number of individual donors dropped 0.3 percent for private schools and 2.2 percent for public schools.

However, the stronger economy, coupled with aggressive fundraising tactics by colleges and universities drove median revenue-per-donor numbers higher, fueling revenue growth for public and private schools alike, the study says.

The median revenue per donor for private schools grew to $581 in 2006, the study says, compared to $314 for public institutions.

The share of alumni contributing to their institutions remained flat in 2006 for private and public schools alike, meaning schools must spend more resources and energy on soliciting existing donors more often.

Donor-retention rates also were flat, and while schools are retaining many of their loyal donors, they are being forced to work harder to so, the study says.

Donors who have given for several years remain the most loyal, but keeping new donors is difficult, with 2006 new-donor retention rates flat for private schools and lower for public schools.

The study is based on donor transactions from 29 public and 36 private colleges and universities.

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