The latest CASE Support of Education Survey, Australia and New Zealand report is out covering data from 2017, 2018 and 2019.

CASE Support of Education Survey 20202019 was a relatively solid year for higher education fundraising and philanthropy across Australia and New Zealand. The new CASE Support of Education Survey 2020 shares important insights into giving trends for the tertiary education sector.  

However, is this growth enough to counteract the impact of the pandemic? With revenue falling in 2020 and the sector unable to tap into JobKeeper, it’s estimated that it will lose 10% of its FTE workforce. How much of this will affect advancement teams, only time will tell. 

A record number of 33 institutions generously shared their data for this year’s survey – 27 from Australia and six from New Zealand. The report reveals that prior to the pandemic, universities were increasing their investment in advancement with the sector looking to cross the $1 billion threshold in the near future. This report will act as a good benchmark to determine the effects COVID-19 will have on reaching this achievement. 

New funds secured in 2019

$783 million, an increase of 15% from 2018.

These include new donations or gifts received, confirmed pledges not yet received, realised bequests and the market value of gifts-in-kind, and allow fundraising and advancement teams to understand and measure current fundraising activities. While 2019’s data showed an increase from the previous year, 78% of new funds was secured by only 10 institutions, while one institution alone accounted for 14% of this amount. 

For Go8 institutions, the median value of news funds secured was $60 million compared to $7 million for non-Go8 institutions. For Go8 institutions, 6% of new funds came from 18 bequests, compared to 1% of new funds from two bequests for non-Go8 institutions. New funds secured from bequests decreased by 24% overall from 2018. 

23 institutions secured at least one gift-in-kind. The maximum value was reported as $20 million. 

CASE Support of Education Survey 2020

Median bequests, largest non-bequest pledges and gifts-in-kind as a % of new funds secured

On trend with current philanthropic thinkingmost gifts were tied: 

  • 44% for research programs and partnerships 
  • 44% by non-Go8 for scholarships and bursaries, compared to 21% for Go8 institutions 
  • 10% for capital projects and infrastructure 

The biggest sources of mean new funds for Go8 and non-Go8 institutions included 

Go8 institutions: 

  • Trusts and foundations (including PAFs): 41% 
  • Other organisations: 24% 
  • Alumi: 17% 
  • Other individuals: 10% 
  • Corporates: 9% 

Non-Go8 institutions: 

  • Trusts and foundations (including PAFs): 52% 
  • Corporates: 18% 
  • Other individuals: 15% 
  • Alumni: 7% 
  • Other organisations: 7% 

Total cash income received in 2019

$598 million, an increase of 11% from 2018.

Cash income includes single cash gifts, pledge payments for current and prior years, cash received towards recurring gifts and cash realised from bequests. Looking at a consistent cohort of 29 survey participants, cash income received in 2019 was 88% of new funds secured for the previous year. In 2018, this was 76%. Go8 institutions accounted for 68% of cash income received, amounting to $47 million. Like new funds secured, cash income from bequests was down by 20% from 2018. 

While the size of cash gifts varied widely among participants, most institutions received their largest cash gift from a trust or foundation (45%), followed by 27% from an alumnus. Out of all the survey participants, 23 confirmed 101 cash gifts of $1 million and above. This was an increase of 23% for Go8 institutions and 13% for non-Go8 institutions from 2018. 

CASE Support of Education Survey 2020

Percentage of institutions receiving their single largest cash gift from various sources, 2019

Total annual funds income in 2019

$19.8 million in new funds and $19.6 in cash income, an increase of 7% from 2018.

Annual fund income describes gifts that are raised through cyclical digital, postal, telephone appeals, or mass participation events, typically targeted at alumni. Annual giving accounted for a median value of 3% of total new funds secured and 4% of total cash income received. 

Go8 institutions saw a 23% decrease in annual fund income secured, and a 5% decrease in annual fund income received in cash from 2018. However, non-Go8 institutions saw a rise by 44% for new funds secured and 46% for annual funds received in cash. 

CASE Support of Education Survey 2020

Median annual funds secured as a percentage of new funds secured and annual fund income received in cash as a percentage of cash income, 2019

Alumni and donor trends 

Participating institutions reported 6.6 million alumni  75% of these are considered contactable alumni: former living students of an institution with a reliable postal or email address, who have not opted out of communication. The number of contactable alumni grew by 5% overall from 2018 to 2019. The total number of alumni donors, however, decreased by 9% from 2018 after an increase of 2% from 2017 to 2018. Non-alumni donors also decreased by 6% overall from 2018. 

Resourcing trends 

Good news: it seems that universities increased investment in fundraising and alumni staff. Bad news: that was before COVID-19 hit.

Fundraising staff counts have increase year-on-year since 2017, while alumni relations staff have remained consistent. For Go8 institutions fundraising staff grew from 11% from 2017 to 2018 and 13% from 2018 to 2019. For non-Go8 institutions this increase was 9% and 7%. 

Total fundraising costs have increased by 14% overall. While non-staff costs decreased in 2017 to 2018, they were up by 19% from 2018 to 2019. Total alumni costs have also increased by 9% from 2018 to 2019 with staff costs increasing by 11% and non-staff costs by 4%. 

It seems that higher education is well aware of the fact that you need to spend money to make money, but we’ll need to wait for next year’s report to understand whether this was possible after the year we’ve had.

In its eighth year, the CASE survey assists universities in budgeting and planning for fundraising and advancement for the next year. This will be especially important as we grapple with the impact of COVID-19 on university fundraising and alumni activities and income. While the pandemic has spurred funding for research and development, tertiary education has been a sector hard hit, and the recession will no doubt challenge major donors, and trusts and foundations’ ability to give. Hopefully, the growth in giving and investment in fundraising and alumni resources will soften thblow. 

Read the full report here.

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