We have been following a sustained trend that has hit higher-education institutions for a few years now: the rise of anonymous donations to universities. The desire among donors to remain private in their gifts to universities includes everything from millennials sending small sums, to wealthy donors giving gigantic $252 million donations. Read more to see just how prevalent anonymous giving has become in donating to universities.
The choice to pursue anonymity as a donor is becoming more attractive for a variety of reasons (for more on the ‘why’ behind the choice to be anonymous, see our article here). However, the traditional way of giving “anonymously” to a university almost always means that the university actually knows who the donor is, but simply agrees to keep it confidential. Some institutions try to set up private foundations to help conceal the donors’ identities, but, as this Chronicle article reports, “In college fund raising, anonymous donors typically aren’t truly anonymous. Someone on campus — the president, or a top fund raiser who worked with the donor — knows the identity of the person who gave the gift.”
Many times this current system fails both the donors and the recipient universities, as the donor is not getting the actual anonymity they desire and now famously bureaucratic universities have to fight to keep their identity under wraps – lest they risk angering and/or exposing their anonymous donor, which is exactly what happened to a $100 million anonymous donor to Oregon Health & Science University. Or this $2 million anonymous donor to Myers University, who was outed by the Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor.
More people are turning to Silent Donor to accomplish what they want – to give back to their favorite schools, but to do so in a manner that is consistent with the level of privacy they are comfortable with. In line with this, anonymous gifts have exploded over the past few years and have in fact regularly become the largest donations that universities have ever seen. We have a few of them chronicled below, representing both large and small institutions from all across the United States:
- University of Houston $50 million anonymous donation in 2019 (largest in school history)
- UC Berkely $252 million anonymous donation in 2020 (largest in school history)
- SUNY Binghampton $60 million anonymous donation in 2020 (largest in school history)
- Xavier University of Louisiana $20 million anonymous donation in 2020 (largest in school history)
- University of Arkansas Little Rock $25 million anonymous donation in 2020 (largest in school history)
- Coastal Carolina University $95 million anonymous donation in 2020 (largest in school history)
- And there are COUNTLESS more examples
Silent Donor allows donations to universities (and nonprofits) all over the country (and world) in order to help these institutions fundraise in a way that connects with their donor-base. As we can see, a look at the US donor-base reveals a predilection towards anonymous giving, rather than following tired “ask-and-give” patterns.