While University of Wisconsin alumni and Badger enthusiasts in general are known for making generous donations to support their alma mater, the results of a recent survey suggest that tough economic times may have affected funds received in 2010.
The Voluntary Support of Education Survey, conducted by the Council for Aid to Education, said UW brought in only $311.8 million in gifts last year.
This figure is down $30 million from the 2009 total of $340.8 million, according to the survey.
The survey reported universities all over the nation have seen a decrease in private donations in 2010.
Compared to the rest of UW’s Big Ten Conference peers, the university came in second in donations received, behind Indiana University, and was ranked 10th in the nation overall.
The UW Foundation, the private fundraising arm of UW, could be negatively affected by the $30 million decrease in funds available for programs and departments across campus, as well as research grants for faculty.
Vice President of the UW Foundation Russ Howes said the decrease in donations, though unfortunate, is not necessarily an indication of funding deficits, and UW is still faring well.
“The drop in revenue was largely due to the recession,” he said. “We’re actually starting to see an upturn.”
According to the survey, UW alumni donations are likely to continue to recover. These donations will probably come from corporations and matching gift programs rather than private individual donors, as has been the trend in past years.
Despite the decrease in private funding, UW Foundation recently reported an endowment of $1.55 billion in 2010, an increase of nearly 13 percent. This figure remains above the national average.
Howes said donations are typically hard to predict because you never know which organizations or individuals are most likely to donate in a given year.
He added the final recipient for donations depends on the will of the donating party.
Although Howes could not speculate as to how the loss in donations would impact UW, he is not worried about the future of the foundation or the numerous grants and scholarships they fund.