Though last September saw the climax of the St Andrews’ 600th anniversary celebrations, donations to the University fell by over £3 million compared to the last academic year.
According to a Freedom of Information request submitted by The Saint, the total donations made throughout the year stood at £5,276,856.71. This compares to the £8,675,065.11 in donations made the year before. This constitutes a drop of 39 per cent.
In September 2013, £296,793.74 was donated to the University, an unexceptional amount compared to the £422,250.79 donated in September 2010 or the £551,271.70 in 2011.
The six month period August 2013 to December 2013 generated a total of £1,908,029.64. This was a dramatic drop off after the £6,295,996.28 raised from January to July of the same year.
There has been an overall increase in the number of donations made since the academic year 2009/10 however, in which the University received £4,581,132.33.
According to the information provided, in 2012/13 the University received 15,474 individual donations, averaging £561.60 per donation. In 2013/14, 13,871 donations were made averaging £381.83 each; a change of around 32 per cent from the previous year.
The most common donation for each year was £10.
The University is still in the middle of its 600th anniversary donation campaign, which began with a ‘quiet phase’ in 2008 and was officially launched by Prince William in February 2011. This can be seen in the figures, which reveal that donations during 2011/12 increased by £2,663,912.74 from the previous year.
In total, the campaign aims to raise £100 million by 2016. According to the University’s website: “The campaign has realised a total of £51.6 million in gifts and pledges. More than £37.8 million has already been invested in key developments”.
Yet the figures obtained by The Saint suggest that a total of £29,977,849.43 was donated to the University between the beginning of August 2009 and the end of July 2013. The University has accounted for this apparent discrepancy by pointing out that these figures do not include pledges to donate.
A spokesperson for the University said: “The figures obtained by FOI are by no means the complete picture and do not include stock donations or donations pledged but not yet realised. Nor do they reflect the 3 year average which takes account of year to year variances.
“It is fairly typical for donations to rise or fall year to year, and fluctuations often depend on one or two exceptional gifts. However our three year average continues to rise, with the number of donations of £100,000 or above increasing last year”.
One such exceptional gift was a donation of £2,600,000 made on January 22 2013. This major contribution has been attributed to a “charitable foundation”.
The spokesperson continued: “In 2012-13 St Andrews was 10th in UK for cash received, 11th for new donations and pledges and 3rd in UK for alumni participation.
“It is best practice in fundraising to look at three year trends – and for the three year period 2011/2014, both cash received and new cash and pledges continue to rise. The three year average for cash receipts has risen from £5.6 million in 2011-12, £6.9 million in 12- 13, to £7.2 million in 13/14. Similarly, the three year trend is up for new gifts and pledges, from £5.6 million in 2011/12, £7.1 million in 12/13, to £7.9 million in 13/14.
“Given 2012-13 was the period in which two of our biggest fundraising events to date were held, this peak year and subsequent drop this year is not surprising.”
Pat Mathewson, president of the Students’ Association, echoed this opinion. He said: “It’s not unusual in the wake of the big push which was the 600th campaign.”
Mr Mathewson expressed the view that the fundraising campaign had started out strong, but that it had “moved consumption from the future to the present”. He speculated that people may have donated earlier than they otherwise would have in order to be part of the campaign, and that this may explain the sudden drop off.
He was strong in his praise for Robert Fleming, director of development, who he called the “best development head we’ve had in a long time”.
Mr Fleming took up his position in 2012 and has since been working to increase alumni participation and levels of donations to the University. He spearheaded the 600th anniversary campaign, with an online donation system and a team of 32 full time staff.
The fundraising efforts will continue into 2015/16 with new developments in the US and a new Asian fundraising strategy.