Colleges and universities took in $28 billion in charitable contributions in 2006, up 9.4 percent from the year before and yet another record high, the Council for Aid to Education reported in its annual survey. 
Gifts from alumni and other individuals propelled the increase, rising by more than 18 percent and 14 percent, to $8.4 billion and $5.7 billion, respectively. Taken together, giving by alumni and other individuals accounted for just over half of the total contributions to higher education, according to the survey, "Voluntary Support of Education."
But continuing a trend, the increased alumni giving came from a smaller proportion of the total alumni body. The proportion of alumni who contributed fell to 11.8 percent in 2006 from 12.4 percent in 2005.
“There has been some concern that alumni participation is declining, but in spite of that trend, which is real, alumni continue to be a driving force in the charitable support of higher education institutions,” said Ann E. Kaplan, director of the survey. “The very strong increase in alumni giving demonstrates that alumni have rallied to the support of their alma maters.”
To try to better understand the decline in alumni participation in giving, the council took a closer look at which kinds of alumni gave what. It found that the proportion of alumni who had earned undergraduate degrees from their institutions (as opposed to those who had earned a graduate degree or not graduated at all) declined by only 0.2 of a percentage point, from 14.8 to 14.6 percent.
Among other sources of giving, foundations contributed about $7.1 billion (25.4 percent of the total), corporations $4.6 billion, other organizations $1.83 billion, and religious organizations $380 million.
The surprisingly large increase in giving this year was driven in large part by huge fund raising campaigns at the wealthiest institutions; half of the overall growth in donations was accounted for by the gains for the top 10 institutions. Stanford University, which finished a major campaign for undergraduate education and began a $4.3 billion campaign that would be the largest ever in higher education,  easily outdistanced all other colleges and universities with its $911.2 million take.
Top 20 Institutions in Private Gifts Received, 2006
|U. of Pennsylvania||409,494,598|
|U. of Southern California||405,745,421|
|Johns Hopkins U.||377,336,025|
|U. of Wisconsin at Madison||325,938,048|
|U. of California at Los Angeles||319,580,552|
|U. of Washington||316,251,912|
|New York U.||279,918,813|
|U. of Minnesota||266,991,894|
|U. of Michigan||251,476,551|
|U. of California at Berkeley||245,966,241|
|U. of Chicago||237,117,399|
|U. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||236,579,182|
Top 5 Community Colleges in Private Gifts Received, 2006
|Ivy Tech State College||$15,349,718|
|Indian River Community College||15,222,667|
|Maricopa Community College District||11,281,013|
|Santa Rosa Junior College||7,209,931|
|SUNY Westchester Community College||6,593,877|