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MIT followed the national trend in declining alumni giving from 2011 to 2012. Capped donations do not count contributions past $100,000. Uncapped donations for 2011 and 2012 are not yet reliably available, as those include both commitments and pledges (future promises of giving).
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In 2012, MIT raised $34,795 per student. This puts MIT as the 11th highest fundraiser when compared to other reporting U.S. colleges and universities, according to a press release last week from the Council for Aid to Education (CAE). Stanford University, which received the most total contributions with $1.03 billion in fundraising, ranked fifth with $55,745 per student. Yale University, California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, and Harvard University ranked 7th, 8th, 17th, and 18th, respectively.

While fundraising by U.S. institutions increased by 2.3 percent — only slightly ahead of inflation — that increase was driven by donations from foundations (up 5.5 percent), corporations (up 4.6 percent), and non-alumni individuals (up 3.1 percent). 47.2 percent of institutions reporting to the CAE indicated a decline in total fundraising over the past year. Overall alumni giving declined 1.3 percent, and the average alumni gift decreased by 1.4 percent, and alumni participation also dropped from 9.5 percent in 2011 to 9.2 percent in 2012.

MIT, too, followed this trend in declining alumni giving.

According to numbers provided by Steve McAlister, Director of the MIT Annual Fund, capped donations (which do not count contributions past $100,000) from MIT’s undergraduate and graduate alumni decreased 7.6 percent from $40.3 million in 2011 to $37.2 million in 2012. The percentage of undergraduate alumni participation also decreased from 36 to 35 percent, while graduate alumni giving remained essentially the same.

However, the total MIT Annual Fund donations in 2012 sum to $50.3 million — an 8 percent increase from the previous year. MIT’s alumni donations go into the Annual Fund. Prior to 2009, this was the MIT Alumni Fund, but the board of the Alumni Association voted to change the name, “reflecting the fact that we now count parents, students, and friends as well as alumni as donors in the MIT Annual Fund,” according to the FY2009 Report to the President.

From FY2005 to FY2008, MIT’s capped donations from alumni donors increased from $28 million to $42.3 million, taking a dip in FY2009 to $32.9 million, in line with the global recession. Alumni donations and participation then increased again through 2011, but both figures dropped again in FY2012, as aforementioned.

These decreases in alumni giving and participation in 2012, according to the CAE report, could in part be attributed to the increasing number of living alumni of record for which institutions have valid addresses, as they may be keeping better records of their alumni.