Stellenbosch University
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SU on top of fundraising game, survey shows
Author: Development & Alumni / Ontwikkeling & Alumni
Published: 18/07/2019

​Stellenbosch University (SU) has recorded the highest level of donor and grant income of all 11 higher education institutions that participated in the Annual Survey of Philanthropy in Higher Education (ASPIHE) conducted in 2018. 

According to the latest survey results, SU increased its annual total by nearly R94 million in 2017 compared with 2016. It received approximately R100 million more than the second-placed institution and was the top performer in the individual, bequests, and gifts-in-kind funding streams and had more organisational donors than any other participating institution.

ASPIHE is conducted annually and provides benchmarking information about the state of philanthropic support to universities in South Africa. In 2018, eleven of South Africa's 26 universities participated on the basis of anonymity, although each participating institution receives a confidential report on their performance.

The survey focuses on recording and analysing philanthropic and grant income to SA universities, with SETA funding recorded separately. It also looks at the direct costs of attracting this type of income, including staffing and the operating expenditure of the fundraising and alumni relations functions.

"I am grateful that our fundraising efforts are yielding positive returns," says Karen Bruns, Senior Director: Development & Alumni Relations (DAR) at SU. According to Bruns, benchmarking is very important in gauging sector-wide relevance and performance “and this survey demonstrates that SU is operationally very much at the top of the fundraising game in South Africa".

Bruns points out that although SU fared extremely well, there are still areas that will require extra effort going forward. “Our donor numbers have increased slightly across the board, but the alumni participation rate (donor numbers) slipped from 0.42% to 0.36%. The results also showed a marginal slippage in our Division's return on investment in terms of costs per Rand raised - from 5 cents to 6 cents in 2017. This however, still places us well within the bounds of best practice and in my book an excellent cost-to-income ratio for our Division," she adds.

"Let's face it - the economic climate in South Africa - and abroad - has been tough on fundraising efforts, but for us it means raising the bar to earn sustainable and growing philanthropic income."

She says DAR is gearing towards boosting revenue, even under the worst external conditions. “We will continue to strengthen our case for support, break down those silos that exist in our institution, foster a positive working relationship with our internal stakeholders, recognising that fundraising requires both continuing investment and ongoing care, and work to instil donor confidence.

"It is exciting and a great privilege to have a share in building the future of SU."