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UI donations dropped more than 5 percent in 2009

BY HOLLY HINES | FEBRUARY 04, 2010 7:30 AM

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Though donations to the UI dropped slightly in fiscal 2009, UI officials said loyal donors helped prevent donations from declining as much as other they did at other universities nationwide.

“They stuck with the university at a difficult time,” said Forrest Meyer, executive director of strategic communications at the UI Foundation.

Donations declined by roughly 5.7 percent from fiscal 2008 to 2009, according to Foundation officials.

During fiscal 2009, donors offered approximately $116 million in outright cash donations. This number is down from about $123 million in fiscal 2008, officials said.

But nationally, the fiscal 2009 drop in donations to universities was more than double that of the UI’s at approximately 12 percent, according to the Council for Aid to Education’s annual Voluntary Support of Education survey released Wednesday.

The national decline, a side effect of recent economic hardship, was the largest ever recorded, according to the report.

Lynette Marshall, the president and CEO of the UI Foundation, said she thinks the university didn’t suffer as much as other schools in part because of the UI Foundation’s “long-term stability.” A majority of the university’s donors in recent years are alumni, she noted.

Areas of the school that benefit from donations suffered fairly equal losses, Marshall said.

Foundation scholarship allocations decreased because of fewer donations, she said. That can affect students’ financial situations, possibly forcing them to find work or, in some instances, drop out of school.

In addition, Marshall said, the Foundation contributed less funding for faculty endowments.

Though cash donations dropped, pledges and promised gifts to the Foundation rose by 7 percent in fiscal 2009, she said.

In fiscal 2009, pledges and promised donations to the UI Foundation totaled approximately $56 million.

Cash donations for the first half of fiscal 2010 are up around 13 percent, Marshall said.

“We feel good about that,” she said.

Meyer said he expects donation amounts will stay up throughout 2010.

The national report’s director agreed.

“Historical patterns indicate that as the economy recovers, contributions will rise again,” said Ann Kaplan, director of the Voluntary Support of Education Survey. “However, 2009 was a difficult year for colleges and universities and, indeed, also for the individuals and institutions that care about them.”


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