Philanthropy’s Largest Gifts Go to Colleges and Universities: Religion and Human Services Are Almost Shut Out

San Francisco – (December 11, 2007) According to a new study released by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research (IJCR), higher education, health, and cultural arts organizations receive the lion’s share of the largest gifts that individuals, foundations, and corporations contribute to American philanthropy. Higher education received nearly half of the dollars from gifts of $10 million or more. Gary A. Tobin and Aryeh K. Weinberg, the study’s authors, analyzed over 8000 gifts of $1 million or more made between 2001-2003.

“Mega-gifts are very concentrated in a few types of organizations. Religious organizations, human services for the needy, and umbrella campaigns like the United Way are the big losers in attracting the largest gifts. Colleges and universities are the biggest winners,” according to Gary A.Tobin, president of IJCR.

The IJCR’s report, Mega-Gifts in American Philanthropy: Giving Patterns 2001-2003, examined over 8000 gifts to 4000 organizations, the largest sample ever collected of gifts of 1 million or more. IJCR’s mega-gift research is ongoing and reports will be issued every two years. The full report with 14 detailed charts is available for download on IJCR’s web site:

Among the findings:

* Higher education is by far the largest recipient of mega-gifts, taking in 37% of gifts and 44% of dollars.
* For gifts of $10 million or more, higher education receives an even bigger share with 46% of gifts and 47% of dollars.
* Health and medical causes received 14% of gifts of $10 million or more, up from 11% in 1995-2000, and 19% of dollars, up from 14% in 1995–2000.
* Religion and federated appeals received the lowest proportion of gifts, 3% each, and dollars, 2% each. Of the 110 largest gifts, none went to religion or federated appeals.
* About 55% of dollars came from private foundations, 28% from individuals, 8% from corporations, and the remainder from community foundations, donor advised funds, anonymous gifts and miscellaneous sources.

The Institute for Jewish & Community Research analyzes a broad range of issues including racial and religious identity, philanthropy, and higher education. The Institute is an independent, non-partisan think tank, and provides innovative research and pragmatic policy analyses to Jewish and other communities around the world.