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Private giving to UC on the rise

The University of California, grappling with years of declining state support, has made remarkable strides in attracting private donations from foundations, corporations and individual donors as it looks to develop new sources of revenue.

The university received $1.6 billion in private support for research, teaching and public service during the 2010-11 fiscal year, a $250 million increase from the previous year, or nearly 20 percent. By comparison, total giving to all colleges and universities was up about 8 percent last year, according to a survey by the Council for Aid to Education.

10 years of private giving to UC

Total private giving to UC 2001-02 to 2010-11

“Our success reflects our donors’ confidence in the university and the extraordinary work being done by our campuses, the campus foundations, and our alumni associations,” said Daniel M. Dooley, senior vice president for external relations. “Of course, private giving is not a silver-bullet solution to our funding needs. It is a critical part of the solution, but alone it cannot fix UC’s budget challenge.”

For one thing, most philanthropic gifts are restricted in how they can be used, putting them off limits for some of UC’s biggest financial needs, such as student scholarships and basic operational expenses, he said.

“We still need support from the state of California,” Dooley said. “But we’re working on expanding private support in targeted ways to help with our overall financial picture.”

Dooley, who will present UC’s Board of Regents with a report on private giving at a March 29 meeting, said that the university has begun placing special emphasis on developing more private giving for student financial support.

UC in 2009 launched Project You Can, a systemwide scholarship initiative to raise $1 billion. To date, it has raised roughly $388 million, nearly 40 percent of its target. The university, looking to expand on that success, now is working to develop partnerships with the California business community to expand private support for student scholarships, Dooley said.

“This effort is an extension of Project You Can and will involve working with leading California businesses that share our interest in the future of the state and its workforce,” Dooley said.

The university’s other efforts to encourage private giving will continue as well. There now are more than 1,500 endowed chairs and professorships at UC, half of which have been established in just the past decade. Last year, more than 250,000 donors contributed to the university.

“Every gift is helping UC continue its mission of teaching, research and public service,” Dooley said. “We’re grateful to the alumni and friends of the university for their support in these challenging economic times — and for recognizing the many ways UC is serving the people of California.”

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