Harvard Fundraising Receipts Rise 7 Percent

University reports $639 million received in 2011—third highest total.

In a University news release, Tamara Elliott Rogers, vice president for alumni affairs and development, announced today that Harvard’s cash receipts from donors totaled $639 million in the fiscal year ended last June 30—up 7 percent from $597 million in cash receipts during fiscal 2010, and the third-highest total in Harvard’s history. Gift receipts were essentially unchanged from fiscal 2009 to fiscal 2010, so the most recent growth represents a recovery from the effects of the financial crisis and recession during late 2008 and the following year.

The University’s financial statement reports current-use gifts separately from capital funds designated for endowment (in the fiscal 2010 report, see footnote 17). During the past few years of budgetary constraint, deans have particularly emphasized the value of current-use giving. According to the news release, current-use gifts rose 12 percent to $277 million in fiscal 2011 from $248 million in the prior year. Because that $248 million total for fiscal 2010 represented a sharp decline in current-use giving from the $291 million received in fiscal 2009, the more recent recovery will be very welcome on campus. Capital giving—designated for the endowment—apparently held steady (the figure for fiscal 2010 was $241 million), but final figures for such gifts, for sponsored grants other than those from the federal government, and for other minor items (all of which figure in the consolidated gifts figure) will be disclosed in the annual financial report, to be published at the end of the month.

The news release singled out the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Business School, and the Graduate School of Education for having achieved increased fundraising. (As reported last October, the business school received a $50 million gift to fund a new executive-education building; the design has been approved, and construction is scheduled to begin this December.)

The cash receipts figure published today represents both current-use gifts made during the year and payments on pledges and other commitments entered into during earlier years. These figures do not indicate the volume of new gift commitments and pledges, an internal metric that University fundraisers use to track current philanthropic conditions.

“We are fortunate to have a dedicated community of alumni and friends who are unwavering in their support of the University,” Rogers said in the news release. “They are loyal, they are passionate, and they are generous, and, for that, we are profoundly grateful.” She noted, further, that although the University continues to plan for an eventual capital campaign, no final decisions have been made about the timing or other details, adding: “We continue to make progress in the planning process, which includes academic and financial planning and prioritization.” In that light, it is unclear whether the newly reported gifts received will count in whole or in part toward any ultimate capital-campaign total. 

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