UC Campuses Experience Drop in Private Donations

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UC Berkeley Donations Decline

University News Editor Mihir Zaveri and Reporter Jeffrey Butterfield discuss the techniques UC Berkeley has implimented to combat the decline in private donations.

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According to a survey released Monday by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, average philanthropic donations to nonprofit organizations nationwide - including some UC campuses - dropped during the 2008-09 fiscal year, though UC Berkeley officials say donor rates recovered slightly in 2009-10.

According to the survey, private fiscal support for the nation's 400 largest nonprofits - a list of associations that includes six UC campuses - fell 11 percent from 2008 to 2009. Support for UC Berkeley over the same time period decreased by 3 percent, the survey states.

In light of recent financial instability stemming from diminished state funding levels, campus officials have increasingly turned to philanthropy to lessen the funding reductions' impact. In a Sept. 7 interview with The Daily Californian, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau referenced philanthropy multiple times as a source of financial relief.

"We are in a long-term situation where state support is decreasing," said Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations David Blinder. "How do we maintain Berkeley's excellence? We need to see support come from private philanthropy more and more."

While Blinder acknowledged that difficult economic times can result in a decrease of philanthropic giving, he said private giving has increased from 2009 to 2010, after factoring in pledged donations that were not considered by the survey.

"Quite explicitly, if you look at our figures, in terms of campaign reported figures, we actually finished up rather than down," Blinder said. "At the end of fiscal 2010, we were at 313 million, and the previous year, we had raised 306 (million) in fiscal year in 2009. What you're looking at is actually a small uptick."

He said UC Berkeley's philanthropic numbers have stayed above $300 million for the past three years, while the Chronicle's figures calculate the university's total gifts at around $276 million.

According to the report, UC Berkeley suffered the smallest percent decrease in private giving from 2008 to 2009 compared to the other five UC schools listed - UCLA, UC San Francisco, UC Irvine, UC San Diego and UC Irvine. UCLA's philanthropic donations dived by 23 percent, and UCSF's gifts fell by 17 percent.

"The report's data should be viewed in proper context," said UCLA spokesperson Phil Hampton. "Everyone was down that year, and last year was up."

Hampton attributed the decrease to an exceptionally strong philanthropic year for UCLA from 2007 to 2008, followed by one difficult for most nonprofit institutions. He said UCLA has seen a significant long-term increase in philanthropic donations, citing a 34 percent increase in gifts over the past five years.

Blinder said that continued efforts to reach likely donors, especially young alumni from recently graduated classes, allowed philanthropic amounts to recover from 2009 to 2010.

"Uncertainty is really a challenge for us in the world of major philanthropy," Blinder said. "People want to know where their gifts will land before talking about contributing a major amount."


Contact Jeffrey Butterfield at [email protected]

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