Duke University raised more money than all but 12 other U.S. universities in fiscal year 2014, according to a report released Wednesday on philanthropy in higher education.
Duke, which brought in $437 million, ranked 13th among the top 20 universities in donations, according to an annual survey by the New York-based Council for Aid to Education.
Harvard, which raised more than $1 billion, and Stanford, which raised $928 million, were atop the list.
The banner year for giving came as the stock market climbed to record levels in 2014. Overall, private giving to colleges and universities increased 10.8 percent, according to the survey. It was the biggest annual gain for higher education since 2000, when donations jumped 13.7 percent. All told, U.S. colleges and universities brought in a record $37.45 billion.
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Robert Shepard, vice president for development at Duke, said the nation’s economic recovery has been good for many universities.
“The simple bottom line is the economy and the stock markets are so strong and had rebounded so much last year, I had a number of people call me and prepay their payments,” Shepard said, explaining that some donors’ assets had appreciated to the point that they wanted to fulfill their pledges early.
The totals for Duke were perhaps not a surprise, because the university is in the midst of a seven-year campaign to raise $3.25 billion. Duke landed several major gifts last year, including $30 million for engineering programs and $15 million for medical research.
UNC-Chapel Hill also saw an increase, raising more than $298 million in the fiscal year. That total was before the Wainstein report in the fall that detailed a more widespread picture of academic and athletic scandals involving bogus classes.
Last week, UNC trustees reviewed the most recent fund-raising reports, which showed a 3 percent decrease in cash totals from last year, as of Jan. 12.
But UNC officials said they were optimistic about a recent uptick in activity, including the $100 million gift in December from alumnus Fred Eshelman to the pharmacy school.
N.C. State pulled down more than $117 million, which was a decrease from $131 million in 2013, according to the survey. N.C. Central saw an increase to more than $5 million in 2014, and Wake Technical Community College raised more than $3 million. The report does not include all colleges and universities in North Carolina.
The survey showed that the gains tend to concentrate at the nation’s wealthiest institutions. The top 20 universities raised more than $10 billion – about 28.6 percent of the total.
While giving by alumni increased nationally, the percentage of alumni who give declined slightly. Large gifts from donors and grants from foundations make up the majority of private support.
Five universities had gifts of more than $100 million last year. Two of them involved major art donations, including 121 works to Stanford last fall.
Colleges also reaped rewards from the stock market, where endowment funds are invested. Duke’s funds achieved a 20 percent return in the fiscal year. Its endowment reached $7 billion – a full recovery from the losses of the recession.
Shepard said Duke began planning its current campaign in the dark days of financial crisis in 2008 and 2009.
“You don’t have to tell too many people what that was like, so there was a lot of caution,” he said. “But the good news is the markets, particularly, have rebounded fairly quickly. Of course, we and others are benefiting from that.”
The survey’s director, Ann Kaplan, predicted another positive year ahead in the release of Wednesday’s report: “Giving is likely to increase again in 2015.”