Press Releases | Philanthropy

ACTA Publishes New Guide for Higher Education Philanthropists

November 10, 2020 by ACTA

Washington, DC—The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) has published the third edition of its Intelligent Donor’s Guide to College Giving. This signature publication aims to help donors have a positive impact on America’s colleges and universities through carefully designed philanthropy, targeted to the projects that truly improve teaching and learning.

Our institutions of higher education face unprecedented challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many schools are under severe financial pressure, with declining enrollment and widespread cuts in state funding. 

More than ever, the survival of our colleges and universities depends on philanthropy. While donors gave $47 billion to U.S. universities during the 2017–2018 academic year, only 42% of philanthropists “believe their giving is having the impact they intended,” according to U.S. Trust. Without thoughtfully designed gift restrictions, donors’ contributions are often funneled into a general fund that schools use at their own discretion. This enables irresponsible spending and fuels unnecessary capital projects and wasteful student luxuries rather than the academic mission of higher education

In The Intelligent Donor’s Guide, ACTA recommends that donors direct their giving toward campus programs that enhance student outcomes and prepare them for meaningful careers and informed citizenship. “Targeted giving is a powerful lever for change in higher education, generating innovative new programs on campus. Through restricted gifts, alumni have the opportunity to share not only their financial resources, but also their vision and values,” said Emily Koons Jae, director of ACTA’s Fund for Academic Renewal (FAR). FAR guides donors through the gift-making process from start to finish in order to ensure that their gifts accomplish their philanthropic goals.

Navigating the higher education landscape is difficult, but our colleges and universities are too important to abandon. With intentional giving, donors can be confident that their gifts are making a difference in advancing academic excellence and preparing our graduates to thrive in an increasingly complex world.

Read the full guide here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Connor Murnane
PHONE: (202) 798-5450


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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