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About University Fundraising

By: Sarah O'Hara BA (hons) - Updated: 7 Oct 2023 | comments*Discuss
University Fundraising Matched Funding

In recent years UK universities have been encouraged to adopt a similar attitude to American universities when it comes to fundraising. This means trying to raise significant amounts of money themselves to counter a drop in government funding. In 2007 the government announced matched funding schemes. Bill Rammell announced plans to match all donations made to universities between 2008 and 2011. Universities are largely expected to raise this money through private donations and endowments.

A recent survey showed that UK universities receive more than £200 million a year, with more than 50 institutions actively fundraising. Cambridge is a trailblazer in the university fundraising stakes having raised £663 million by last year in the period since 2001. This is in their bid to raise £1 billion by 2012.

More about Matched Funding

In April of this year, more detail was revealed on the government’s matched funding scheme for universities. The government has pledged £200 million to this scheme and it will be allocated using a three-tier system.

Universities must choose between the top tier where the government will pay on a 3:1 private to public funding ratio. The second and third tier ratios are 2:1 and 1:1 respectively. So, as an example, a university on the second tier would receive an extra £3 million from the government if they raised £6 million. Each tier is capped.

Donations which are eligible for this matched funding are cash and shares.

Effect on Universities

Universities now have to dedicate a significant amount of time to fundraising activities. A 2006 report from the Sutton Trust recommended that university chancellors should spend up to three days per week on development activities.

Although university fundraising in the UK has come a long way it still lags a long way behind US efforts. Realistically, only Oxford and Cambridge are currently able to anywhere near compete with US universities.

Tips for University Fundraising

If universities want to receive donations there are a few ways they can encourage donors:

  • Make it clear how donors can donate money. Include clear instructions on the website.
  • Make the tax relief system for university donations very clear on the website as this is likely to increase donations.
  • Provide information to potential donors on how previous donations have helped the university and its students as well as what future donations will go towards.
  • Consider student caller campaigns. It is common for universities to employ student volunteers to call alumni and other potential donors to inform them of donation opportunities and the benefits.
  • Keep donors up-to-date and thank them for their donation. Publications and events can help universities, donors and alumni to stay in touch.
  • Remind donors of the ways that they can donate. For example, make it clear that small one-off donations are as welcome as large, regular donations.
  • Provide clear information on how donors can donate using Charities Aid Foundation Vouchers.
  • Provide information on how employers and employees can become involved in PAYE donation schemes.
  • Explain to potential donors about legacy and in-kind donations.
  • Make sure staff are well trained and informed so they can answer any donation or gift enquiries.

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