< 1 min read
Among the many things that baffle me about philanthropy, count the amazing rates of giving to higher education. Despite all the hype about how American higher education is the best in the world, I don't think our colleges and universities are doing a very good job for most of their students. Sure there are advanced physics students coming here from India and China to study in our first-rate research labs. But these constitute a tiny percentage of our students and a tiny amount of our higher education dollars. One report last year from the Delta Cost project showed "Academic support" (including remedial education) as our fastest growing expense.

Anyway, a new report out from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education shows that fundraising professionals seem quite optimistic about their prospects for this year. "Fundraisers for schools, colleges and universities estimated that giving to their institutions increased an average of 3.7 percent in 2010 over the previous year, according to survey results released today by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. They also predicted further growth of 5.6 percent in 2011."


There is all sorts of research about what makes people give to universities. Much of it seems to be emotional--one report showed that belonging to a fraternity increased the likelihood of giving. Others suggest successful sports teams help. Far be it from me to tell other people what to do with their money but how about looking at results, not just whether a university begging letter tugs at your heartstrings?