Stanford University is first college to raise $1.2b, sets new fund-raising record

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Stanford University has set a new record for college fund-raising, becoming the first school to collect more than US$1 billion (S$1.2 billion) in a single year, according to a report released on Wednesday.

For the eighth straight year, Stanford ranked first in the Council for Aid to Education's annual college fund-raising survey, which shows that elite institutions continue to grab a disproportionate share of donor dollars.

In the 2012 fiscal year, roughly 3,500 US colleges and universities raised US$31 billion, 2.3 per cent more than the previous year. The record was set in 2008 when schools took in US$31.6 billion before fund-raising dropped during the height of the financial crisis.

Topping the list was Stanford at US$1.035 billion, followed by Harvard University at US$650 million, Yale University at US$544 million, the University of Southern California at US$492 million and Columbia University at US$490 million. The top 10 fund-raising colleges collected US$5.3 billion, or 17 per cent, of the US$31 billion, even though they represent only 0.3 per cent of the 3,500 accredited, non-profit schools included in the survey.

Stanford benefited from a surge in donations at the end of its multi-year Stanford Challenge fund-raising campaign, which netted US$6.2 billion. It also benefited from the successful launch of a US$1 billion campaign for its medical school and hospitals.

The 10-campus University of California system raised US$1.56 billion, which does not include money collected by its individual campuses. UC Berkeley was the leading fund-raiser among all public universities, taking in US$405 million.

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford's alumni list includes the founders of major tech companies like Yahoo who have given to the school in recent years.

Stanford raised 46 per cent more in its 2012 fiscal year than the US$709 million it collected in 2011 and surpassed its previous record of US$911 million set in 2006. The US$1.035 billion haul is equal to nearly US$56,000 for each of its roughly 18,500 undergraduate and graduate students, though much of the money will be used for research and construction.

Stanford received donations from nearly 79,000 donors, including US$100 million of a US$150 million gift from Silicon Valley investor Robert King and his wife Dorothy to establish the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies.

"We are in awe and remain humbled by this kind of response. It was a remarkable showing of generosity," said Mr Martin Shell, Stanford's vice-president for development. "Higher education for most people represents hope for a better future, and donors want to invest in that."