Harvard Donations Top $1 Billion for Second Straight Year

  • Ivy League school plans to raise $6.5 billion by 2018
  • Fund manager Paulson gave $400 million to engineering school

Donations to Harvard University have topped $1 billion for the second straight year.

The Ivy League school said in an annual report Thursday that it collected $1 billion in gifts in the year ended June 30, after getting $1.2 billion the previous year. The surge in donations, which are up from $792 million in 2013, follows the formal start of a campaign to raise $6.5 billion by 2018 to boost education and research and carry out construction projects across the campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Boston.

The university has already reached $6.1 billion of donations and pledges in that campaign, according to Jeff Neal, a spokesman.

Giving to colleges has grown in recent years and has been marked by a proliferation of mega donations to the richest institutions. Schools raised a total of $37.5 billion in the year ended June 2014, up 11 percent from the year prior and the most on record, according to a report released in January by the Council for Aid to Education, a New York-based group.

Harvard has led in receiving mega gifts. The largest donation to a charitable organization this year came in June, when hedge fund manager John Paulson pledged $400 million to Harvard’s engineering school, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. In 2014, Harvard got a $350 million gift for its public health school.

Other significant gifts to schools this year include $300 million to Princeton University from the estate of William Scheide and $150 million to Yale University from Stephen Schwarzman.

Stanford became the first university to collect more than $1 billion in a year, in fiscal 2012, according to the Council for Aid to Education. After leading all schools, it trailed Harvard last year with donations of $928 million. It hasn’t reported results for 2015 yet.

The university ended the year with a budget surplus of 1 percent, driven by the
increased giving, according to Thomas Hollister, Harvard’s finance chief.

“The campaign was a wonderful contributor,” Hollister said in a statement.
“We’re very fortunate to have so many caring and generous alumni and friends
of the university.”

While Harvard said its finances were strong, it expressed concern about its main sources of revenue -- tuition, federal research funding and transfers from its $37.6 billion endowment, the largest in higher education. It spent $1.6 billion from its endowment to cover operational expenses last year, it said. Total financial aid outlays by the university were $520 million.

“Federal research funding has flattened, tuition growth is constrained by structural affordability issues, and capital market returns are uncertain and volatile,” it wrote in the annual report.

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