A report undertaken by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) on behalf of the Sutton Trust, looking at ways to increase private giving to UK universities through a state matched funding scheme.
Government matching fund programmes offer great promise for strengthening the quality of higher education and improving access to colleges and universities. The most successful programmes challenge institutions and their supporters and have been responsible for launching comprehensive fundraising campaigns, for supporting existing campus programmes, and for enhancing overall private giving.
- The United Kingdom government would be well-advised to introduce a matched grants scheme as a way to build the capacity of colleges and universities to professionalise their ability to raise independent funds and to continue the development of a philanthropic culture that is more overtly supportive of higher education.
- The matching of donations should be preceded by a scheme through which higher education institutions are encouraged to invest in development infrastructure (through staffing, staff training, improved databases) to strengthen the platform on which matched donations can be implemented with the greatest effectiveness.
- The matched donations scheme should be structured to stimulate giving to universities that are new to fundraising and to challenge more established development offices to raise their sights. Doing so ensures that both equity and best practice will be well-served. A model such as the one developed in Hong Kong with its “floor” and “ceiling,” is one structure. A sliding scale of matching grants is another.
- It is feasible to encourage donations to target areas according to the structure of the scheme; the government might wish to emphasise the value of gifts toscholarships or science, for example, by applying a higher ratio of matched funding to certain categories. It is recommended, however, that the scheme is not limited to gifts treated as endowments in the technical sense, that is, where only the interest on the capital may be disbursed. In the current philanthropic climate and for young fundraising offices in particular, that limitation would erect a formidable barrier.
- The scheme should be restricted to gifts of cash and listed shares received (that is, not pledges) and it should be for a designated period of time. A pilot period of two years in the first instance is suggested, with a projected second phase immediately following. That timeframe implies a review process towards the end of the first phase.
- To administer the scheme equitably, the reporting standards that categorise what counts as a gift – as distinct from a research contract, for example should be adopted from those agreed upon for the “Survey of Gift Revenue and Fundraising Costs” project, now in its fourth year and carried out by the Ad Hoc Group of Vice-Chancellors, the Ross Group of Development Directors, and theCouncil for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Completing this annual survey would be an effective means of ensuring that participating universities are being held accountable to their donors and to government for use of public funds. It is anticipated that introducing a matched gifts scheme would have the side effect of adding clarity and robustness to universities’ managerial processes for “donor stewardship.”
- A matched grants scheme will be more energetically entered into by universities if it can be accompanied by assurances about such a scheme not leading to a moderation in other government support.