U ranks 16th in private donations

Over $272 million in private donations made up 6 percent of the University’s budget in 2009.

by Danielle Nordine

The University of Minnesota ranked 16th nationally in the amount of private donations made to colleges and universities during the 2009 fiscal year, according to a report released Wednesday by the Council for Aid to Education. The University reported a total of more than $272 million in donations for fiscal year 2009, which was an 11.5 percent drop from 2008. Private donations made up about 6 percent of the UniversityâÄôs budget in 2009. Private donations dropped almost 12 percent nationwide, the largest decline since the study started in 1957, Ann Kaplan, survey director, said. The steep drop was undoubtedly due to the economy, she said. âÄúI actually thought [the drop] was going to be steeper, considering the mood of the country,âÄù she said. âÄúBut no matter what your inclination to give to a university happens to be, your assets are worth what theyâÄôre worth.âÄù The University came in sixth among public university donations, just above the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and below the University of California, San Francisco. The University of Wisconsin was the only school in the Big Ten with more private donations. Before fiscal year 2008, colleges and universities were seeing an average increase in donations of about 4 percent a year, Kaplan said. In 2008, the University saw the highest amount of donations in a decade, reaching $289 million. That amount had been increasing each year since 2004, according to the UniversityâÄôs 2009 Report on Giving. According to the UniversityâÄôs report, there was a nearly 8 percent drop in the amount of donations between 2008 and 2009, and the number of donors decreased from 87,989 in 2008 to 83,156 in 2009. The University and the Council for Aid to Education record donations differently, said Martha Douglas, director of communications for the University of Minnesota Foundation, which manages donations. When the University generates its report, Douglas said, it includes information such as the known amounts of future pledges, which CAE does not use. However, CAE does include gifts to other parts of the University besides the University of Minnesota Foundation, which are not included in the UniversityâÄôs Report on Giving. Among the top 20 institutions reporting the highest amount of donations, there were nine public schools. Only two other Big Ten schools were among the top 20 institutions, with the University of Wisconsin coming in 10th and the University of Michigan at 18th. While the drop in private donations was the largest the council has ever seen, Kaplan said she thinks institutions will recover at least some of that money in the next few years. âÄúIf things go the way they usually go and they move in tandem with certain aspects of the economy, youâÄôd expect there to be some kind of recovery next year,âÄù she said. âÄúIt wonâÄôt return to the levels of 2008 in one year, but it will get there.âÄù