Fundraising by U.S. colleges and universities plummeted 11.9 percent in fiscal 2009, the largest drop in the history of an annual survey compiled by the Council for Aid to Education.
That’s a striking reversal from the average annual 4.1 percent growth in fundraising the sector logged over the last decade, says the Voluntary Support of Education survey.
Stanford University raised $640.11 million in fiscal 2009, more than any other school, but 22 percent less than it brought in the year before.
Harvard ranked second with $601.64 million raised, down from 11.3 percent over 2008.
About two in three institutions that replied to the survey both in 2008 and 2009 reported a drop in fundraising, with private liberal-arts colleges as a group posting an 18.3 percent loss, steeper than any other group.
Annual giving, which typically supports operations, was essentially flat in 2009, falling 0.7 percent, while capital support fell 25 percent.
As a result, annual giving represented 60.9 percent of all contributions in 2009, up from 54 percent in 2008.
Giving by alumni fell 18 percent last year, and the slide in alumni participation hit an all-time low of 10 percent, down from 11 percent in 2008.
And although the ranks of alumni grew by 3 percent from 2008 to 2009, the number of alumni who contributed fell 5.6 percent.
Contributions from non-alumni individuals fared even worse in 2009, dropping 18.4 percent.