Oxford calls for donation overhaul

February 14, 2003

Oxford University fundraisers want the government's matching endowment fund, announced in last month's white paper, to reward alumni participation rates rather than cash raised.

"Universities which raise money from a high percentage of their alumni should be rewarded - not just those able to attract the prestigious big donors," said Mike Smithson, director of development at Oxford.

Some vice-chancellors are concerned that the matching endowment fund would benefit only the rich - despite a white paper statement that the allocation method would take account of universities' existing fundraising capacity.

Michael Driscoll, vice-chancellor of Middlesex University and the next chair of the Coalition of Modern Universities, said: "The matched endowment fund is another example of government money going to those that are already successful at raising funds."

But Mr Smithson said: "Alumni involvement is taken as a key measure of success in the States and will make the fund more equitable."

The same group of Oxford fundraisers sent a paper to education secretary Charles Clarke at Christmas in which the matched endowment fund was one of the key proposals.

• Universities could be driving away benefactors and missing out on millions of pounds by making it almost impossible for alumni to work out how to make donations.

Preliminary research by the Giving Campaign, a body set up by the government to promote charitable donations, has found that of 33 university websites surveyed, 16 (48 per cent) had no information on charitable giving.

"Some 67 per cent of the public are making regular charitable donations, so there is huge potential for universities to benefit from their generosity," campaign director Amanda Delew said.

The campaign found that one website, belonging to Manchester Metropolitan University, had no alumni site. Fifteen had alumni sites but did not have any information on how to make donations, or on the benefits or tax breaks.


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