The Government this week announced £7.5 million in grants over three years to English academic institutions to help kickstart their fundraising activities.
Universities will have to match funding of up to £125,000 a year from the Government to boost their efforts to raise money from alumni and other private donors.
In the first year, Bath, Cranfield and Nottingham Trent universities will each receive the maximum of £125,000, with De Montfort and Kingston close behind with £120,000 and £119,000 respectively.
The Government first proposed a matching funding scheme in its 2003 Higher Education White Paper, but many expected a pledge of hundreds of millions of pounds. UK universities generate tiny amounts of money through fundraising compared with US institutions, many of which raise billions of dollars from alumni.
The joint initiative between the Department for Education and Skills and Universities UK is aimed at universities whose capacity to generate alumni funds is underdeveloped.
Eric Thomas, the vice-chancellor of Bristol University and chair of the selection panel that chose universities from 78 proposals, said: "We favoured universities that have demonstrated creativity and innovation in generating new forms of income. We felt that by asking them to match our funds we would encourage a level of commitment on their part."
Bill Rammell, the Higher Education Minister, said: "Government funding for universities is increasing for the first time in a generation. But I also want to see our institutions increase their ability to tap into private donations, like universities in other countries. The new funding we are providing should help spur more private donations."
Mr Rammell said Penn State University in the US recently generated almost £1 billion through fundraising activities. He added: "We are, of course, a long way from these sorts of figures. But I believe that if universities invest now in building their fundraising capacity, they will see returns in the not-too-distant future."
Institutions that have been awarded funds are: Bath; Birkbeck; Bournemouth; Brunel; Coventry; Cranfield; De Montfort; East Anglia; Essex; Greenwich; Institute of Education; Kent; Kingston; Lancaster; Leicester; London South Bank; Middlesex; Nottingham Trent; Oxford Brookes; Ravensbourne College; Royal Northern College of Music; Salford; Sheffield; Sunderland; Surrey; Sussex; and York St John.