Colleges raise more money from fewer alums

Fundraising totals at U.S. colleges and universities jumped 9.5 percent in 2007, despite declining alumni-participation rates and flat donor counts, a new report says.

The overall increase in revenue is due in part to a strong economy and innovations in donor stewardship, says the Index of Higher Education Fundraising Performance from Target Analytics.

But difficulty engaging young alumni, a group that is growing as a result of larger class sizes, continues to plague higher education.

Participation among private-school alumni overall fell 1.2 percent to 26.8 percent last year, the report says, while public schools saw a drop 0.6 percent to 10.5 percent of alumni.

The decline in part may be due to the use of more sophisticated program metrics, and the use by fewer schools of participation as a key indicator of success.

Performance varied between public and private schools in a few areas.

While new-donor retention rates fell 4.9 percent at private schools in 2007, their public counterparts saw only a slight decline of 0.5 percent.

Private institutions also saw a drop in the median change in retained donors, the report says, while public universities experienced modest growth.

The median change in revenue per donor retained jumped 11.5 percent at public universities, compared to growth of 7.1 percent for private schools.

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