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The Supply of and Demand for Charitable Donations to Higher Education

  • Jeffrey R. Brown
  • Stephen G. Dimmock
  • Scott Weisbenner

Charitable donations are an important revenue source for many institutions of higher education. We explore how donations respond to economic and financial market shocks, accounting for both supply and demand channels through which these shocks operate. In panel data with fixed effects to control for unobservable differences across universities, we find that overall donations to higher education - and especially capital donations for university endowments or for buildings- are positively and significantly correlated with the average income and house values in the state where the university is located (supply effects). We also find that when a university suffers a negative endowment shock that is large relative to its operating budget, donations increase (demand effects). This is especially true for donations earmarked for current use. We conclude by discussing the importance of understanding how donations respond to economic shocks for effective financial risk management by colleges and universities.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18389.

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Date of creation: Sep 2012
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Publication status: published as The Supply of and Demand for Charitable Donations to Higher Education , Jeffrey R. Brown, Stephen G. Dimmock, Scott Weisbenner. in How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education , Brown and Hoxby. 2015
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18389
Note: ED LS PE
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  1. Jonathan Meer & Harvey S. Rosen, 2012. "Does Generosity Beget Generosity? Alumni Giving and Undergraduate Financial Aid," NBER Working Papers 17861, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Brendan M. Cunningham & Carlena K. Cochi-Ficano, 2002. "The Determinants of Donative Revenue Flows from Alumni of Higher Education: An Empirical Inquiry," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(3), pages 540-569.
  3. Steinberg, Richard S, 1987. "Voluntary Donations and Public Expenditures in a Federal System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 24-36, March.
  4. Meer, Jonathan & Rosen, Harvey S., 2009. "The impact of athletic performance on alumni giving: An analysis of microdata," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 287-294, June.
  5. Gerald E. Auten & Holger Sieg & Charles T. Clotfelter, 2002. "Charitable Giving, Income, and Taxes: An Analysis of Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 371-382, March.
  6. Kingma, Bruce Robert, 1989. "An Accurate Measurement of the Crowd-Out Effect, Income Effect, and Price Effect for Charitable Contributions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1197-1207, October.
  7. Jeffrey Brown & Stephen G. Dimmock & Jun-Koo Kang & Scott Weisbenner, 2010. "How University Endowments Respond to Financial Market Shocks: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 15861, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Tobin, James, 1974. "What Is Permanent Endowment Income?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(2), pages 427-32, May.
  9. Brown, Keith C. & Garlappi, Lorenzo & Tiu, Cristian, 2010. "Asset allocation and portfolio performance: Evidence from university endowment funds," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 268-294, May.
  10. Roberts, Russell D, 1984. "A Positive Model of Private Charity and Public Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(1), pages 136-48, February.
  11. Stephen G. Dimmock, 2012. "Background Risk and University Endowment Funds," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 789-799, August.
  12. Zoran Ivkovic & Scott Weisbenner, 2005. "Local Does as Local Is: Information Content of the Geography of Individual Investors' Common Stock Investments," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(1), pages 267-306, 02.
  13. Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar & Jialan Wang, 2008. "Secrets of the Academy: The Drivers of University Endowment Success," NBER Working Papers 14341, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Clotfelter, C. T., 2003. "Alumni giving to elite private colleges and universities," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 109-120, April.
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