George Mason Law School

College breaks into ‘Philanthropy 400’ after record haul in 2009 donations

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October 25, 2010

10:35 PM

The Chronicle of Philanthropy named the College of William and Mary a member of the “Philanthropy 400” Oct. 18. The list recognizes the top 400 non-profit fundraising organizations based in the United States, and included over 100 colleges and universities this year. 2009 was the first year in which the College was included in the ranking.

“Since arriving in 2006, I have overseen four of the five best years ever in the College’s history,” Vice President for University Development Sean Pieri said in an e-mail. “Our results in FY 2010, coupled with the record breaking year in 2009, are the best two consecutive years in gifts and pledges for the College.”

The College collected $50.8 million during the 2009 fiscal year. The figure landed the school in the 347th spot on the list, as the 108th university.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that there was an 11 percent overall decrease in donations between 2008 and 2009 — the worst decline in the two decades since the institution began recording donations. The College reversed the national trend and was able to increase gifts received, as 2009 was one of the top five fiscal years in the school’s history, mainly attributable to private donations, according to Pieri.

“Private giving to the College now surpasses the amount we receive from the state for operating budget,” Pieri said. “We also have more alumni contributing today than every year except 2005.”

The Council for Aid to Education released the Voluntary Support of Education Survey in early October. The survey echoed the Chronicle’s projections and indicated an 11.9 percent drop in donations to colleges nationwide from 2008 to 2009.

Despite the surge in 2009, the amount was not sustained during the 2010 fiscal year ending June 30, and the College brought in just over $43 million.

“We need to broaden the overall base of supporters who contribute to the College on an annual basis,” Pieri said. “This annual support is crucial to meeting the most pressing needs of the institution.”

Twenty-five percent of the schools included on the Philanthropy 400 list provided projections for their 2010 numbers. The results indicated a 1.4 percent increase between 2009 and 2010. If the sampling is indicative of the final result it likely means the College will not find itself among the top 400 for 2010.

Stanford University and Harvard University were the leading collegiate recipients, ranking 14th and 16th, respectively. Among Virginia schools, the College ranked fourth, behind the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Virginia Commonwealth University.

The top three ranked organizations were the United Way Worldwide, the Salvation Army and the AmeriCares Foundation. These three organizations collected nearly $8 billion in donations. The total amount collected by the 400 organizations topped $68.6 billion. No government funding is included in the totals.

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