The Council for Aid to Education’s latest annual survey of fundraising at colleges and universities in the United States has been released. The Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) Survey looks at many different kinds of giving, including matching gifts. Compared with 2015, the average size of matched gifts across all institutions remained virtually unchanged, with private institutions experiencing a small decline in the size of their average matches while public institutions experienced a correspondingly small increase in the size of theirs.

Here’s what the 2016 VSE survey reveals:

  • Overall, matching gifts represented 16 percent of the corporate support received by respondent institutions, representing a hefty 15 percent increase over 2015’s reported average of 13.9 percent.
  • The 609 institutions that provided matching-gift data reported they received just over $141 million in matching gifts, a noteworthy 9.4 percent decrease from the amount reported in the 2015 survey that could be explained by a drop in the number of institutions participating in the survey.
  • The average amount received in matching gifts per reporting institution was $231,677 which is also less than that reported in the 2015 survey, by 9.8 percent.
  • The average size of each reported match was $948, which is almost the same as the average reported in 2015 ($949); as noted above, fluctuations in the average match for public and private institutions effectively canceled each other out.
  • The percentage of corporate support represented by matching gifts ranged from 0.8 percent among public specialized institutions to 20.5 percent among private baccalaureate institutions — the same institution types that have consistently held these relative positions for as long as Match Points has been reporting on the VSE.

What do the numbers mean? Gail A. Ferris, Assistant Vice President for Advancement Administration and Development and Alumni Relations at The George Washington University, breaks them down for us.

Ferris notes that while overall corporate giving increased from 2015 to 2016, matching gift revenue made up a smaller percentage of corporate giving in terms of absolute dollar amounts. “Part of that could be attributable to the fact that 26 fewer institutions reported in 2016,” he observes. “This is more attributable to significant growth in overall corporate support than a significant decrease in matching gifts.”

Although the average match size remained virtually even overall from 2016 to 2016, Ferris notes that average match sizes increased for institutions with multiple campuses, those with research, doctoral, and master’s programs, and specialized institutions. “Only baccalaureate and associate’s institutions experienced a decrease in the average match size,” he observes. “This may be indicative of a trend where institutions training more of their alumni for professional careers are finding that they are triggering larger matches through their employers.”

For the full VSE report, email vse@cae.org or call (212) 217-0878.

Matching Gift Size May Be Tied to Professional Careers, CAE Data Suggest

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