The results are in for the Council for Aid to Education’s annual survey of fundraising at colleges and universities in the United States. The Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) Survey looks at many different kinds of giving, including matching gifts. Here’s what the 2015 VSE survey reveals:
- The 635 institutions that provided matching-gift data reported they received $150 million in matching gifts.
- The average amount received in matching gifts per reporting institution was $263,863.
- The average size of each reported match was $949.
- Overall, matching gifts represented 13.9 percent of the corporate support received by respondent institutions.
- The percentage of corporate support represented by matching gifts ranged from 1 percent among public specialized institutions to 18.6 percent among private baccalaureate institutions.
Match Points spoke with Michael Westfall, Eastern Washington University Vice President and Executive Director of the EWU Foundation, to find out what the numbers mean for nonprofits. “FY15 continued the trend of positive news as it relates to corporate support and the size of the average gift across all sectors,” Westfall explains. “Matching gifts remain a wonderful means to generate support as a result.”
Although the survey reported that the average match for private institutions crossed the $1,000 threshold in 2015, Westfall cautions that this number requires some qualification. First, the number of private institutions participating in the VSE survey continued its decline in 2015 (down 3.6 percent since 2013). Westfall believes that many smaller institutions are not responding to the survey because they lack the time and resources to respond, or else have other priorities. In addition, the trend of a continuing decline in the number of annual fund gifts magnifies the increase in the size of average gifts of current donors. Both of these factors likely contributed to the increase in the reported average match for private institutions last year.
Westfall believes that the increase in the size of average gift size can be explained by institutions that are focusing their fundraising efforts on current and recently lapsed donors, who tend to give more.
However, the VSE data do reveal some unalloyed good news for nonprofits seeking to raise more money through matching gifts. Overall corporate dollars to private institutions increased 6.4 percent in FY15 compared with FY14, beating the overall national increase of 3.9 percent in corporate giving of all kinds, as reported in the latest Giving USA report.
Westfall believes that this increase indicates that nonprofit institutions are doing a better job of marketing to corporations to boost opt-ins, and that alumni are taking more advantage of matching gift opportunities. “Those are both really good news,” Westfall says.