The Council for Aid to Education, a division of the Rand
Corporation, observes that stock market performance is a leading
indicator of contributions to higher education, particularly
in gifts for capital purposes—when the market is down,
contributions are down.
This observation has certainly held true for the California
State University system over the past two years. Giving from
alumni and other individuals experienced a decline in both
years. This year, gifts from corporations and foundations
decreased as well. The decline in corporate and foundation
giving is not unexpected given that the contributions budgets
of these organizations are typically based on investment performance
from the prior year.
As the stock market begins its gradual rebound, giving from
individuals should increase at relatively the same pace; however,
it may take an additional year or two for giving from corporations
and foundations to trend upward.
Over 200,000 individuals supported the university this past
year, symbolizing a broad commitment and confidence in the
university's mission. Advancement programs have achieved steady
progress toward building a tradition of giving among our supporters
and, as a result, 38 percent of all gifts to the institution
were from alumni, faculty and other friends.
Efforts to enhance relationships with graduates through alumni
membership programs continue to pay dividends to the university.
There are now 114,117 members of alumni associations across
the system. These members contributed 38 percent of the charitable
dollars raised from alumni, in addition to providing support
through paid membership. In 2002-2003, charitable gifts from
alumni exceeded $21 million.
The average alumni gift declined from $397 to $298, again
a result that is consistent with a lackluster economy that
left individuals uncertain about disposable income. Even though
average gifts were smaller, the alumni participation rate—a
comparison of the alumni of record to actual donors—remained
constant at 4 percent.