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3 key trends shaping higher education fundraising in 2022, backed by EAB’s data analysis

June 1, 2023 , By Edward Issertell, Senior Analyst, Research Development

In an era defined by tight budgets and constant change, institutions turn to EAB as a trusted data source to help justify a strong investment in advancement. EAB researchers analyzed aggregated fiscal year 2022 dataand identified three notable trends for higher education fundraising.

These three trends come from 132 institutions across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. that participated in EAB‘s Advancement Investment and Performance Initiative (AIPI). AIPI provides chief advancement officers with customized benchmarking data to systematically compare the performance of their internal operations to their peers.

Trend #1: Advancement staffing finally rebounds

After a few years defined by staffing shortages and the “Great Resignation,” advancement teams rebounded by growing 7% in total advancement FTEs at the average institution between 2021 and 2022. Staffing increases were seen disproportionately in smaller teamswhere the total number of FTEs grew by 11% year over year.

Average FTEs

  • +7%

    All institutions, FY21-FY22
    FY22: 98; FY21: 92

  • +11%

    Small teams, FY21-FY22
    FY22: 26; FY21: 23

  • +5%

    Large teams, FY21-FY22
    FY22: 128; FY21: 122

Major gift officer numbers also increased in 2022, albeit slower than total staffing numbers. The average institution added one new MGO, while larger teamsadded two new MGOs.

Average number of MGOs

  • +5%

    All institutions, FY21-FY22
    FY22: 23; FY21: 22

  • +25%

    Small teams, FY21-FY22
    FY22: 5; FY21: 4

  • +7%

    Large teams, FY21-FY22
    FY22: 30; FY21: 28

As advancement teams work to recruit and retain staff, EAB partners are invited to learn more about becoming an employer of choice, and to join our upcoming virtual roundtables focused on staff retention in a highly competitive talent market.

Trend #2: Dollars are up, even though donors are down

Data gathered from 2022 reveals a 16% increase in total higher education fundraising compared to the previous year’s figures (i.e., $112.8 million in 2022 compared to $97.0 million in 2021). Smaller teams experienced an even larger boost, with an average 32% increase in total dollars raised (i.e., $20.0 million in 2022 compared to $15.1 million in 2021).

Despite strong fundraising growth, the average institution attracted fewer donors in 2022 compared to the previous year. This may not come as a surprise to many advancement leaders who in recent years have shifted limited resources towards major gift fundraising and away from mass engagement for an increased ROI.

  • -4%

    Average number of total donors, FY21-FY22
    FY22: 25,119; FY21: 26,085

Trend #3: Expenditures are up, signaling a renewed investment in advancement

After two years of lower expenditures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions reinvested in advancement in 2022. The average institution surpassed 2019 spending for the first time. Investment grew by an average of 17% year over year (i.e., $13.9 million in 2022 compared to $11.9 million in 2021). Small teams increased investment by 20% (i.e., $3.4 million in 2022 compared to $2.9 million in 2021), while large teams invested an additional 15% (i.e., $18.2 million in 2022 compared to $15.9 million in 2021).

EAB’s data analysis provides a unique viewpoint into the evolving landscape of higher education fundraising. Read about how one institution used AIPI data to increase fundraising, improve ROI, and restructure their organization according to EAB best practices. EAB partners can learn more about participating in EAB’s Advancement Investment and Performance Initiative for 2023.

Footnotes

  1. Data includes all participating institutions for each year of data collection. 132 institutions participated in 2022, 142 in 2021, 177 in 2020, and 165 in 2019.
  2. Small teams have an FTE count under 40.
  3. Large teams have an FTE count +40.
Edward Issertell

Edward Issertell

Edward Issertell is a senior analyst working with the Advancement Advisory Services team. He conducts best practice research related to higher education fundraising and alumni relations. In Edward's time researching advancement, he has conducted research on organizational design in advancement and engagement of generation Z. Edward has also supported the execution of EAB's advancement benchmarking service. Before he moved to the advancement team, Edward spent time with the professional and adult education team researching marketing and recruitment. In his free time, Edward enjoys running, watching sports, and spending time with friends.

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