Charitable contributions to colleges and universities plummeted an average 11.9 percent nationwide in 2009, the steepest drop in at least three decades, reports the Associated Press. Individual giving dropped in both dollars and participation numbers, and gifts for endowments and new buildings saw the biggest decreases, according to the Council for Aid to Education, which released its 2009 fiscal report on Feb. 3. Donation declines piled on top of endowment drops averaging 22 percent, plus state budget cuts for public colleges. “We knew that this was going to be a bad year,” said Ann E. Kaplan, director of the survey. One area of giving that did not decline as much was gifts from organizations, including corporations, foundations, religious organizations, and other nonprofits. Stanford University took in $640.1 million and was at the top of the fiscal 2009 fundraising list, followed by Harvard, Cornell, and the University of Pennsylvania. Stanford held onto its top spot, despite a drop in fundraising income of $175 million, because most of the other universities on the Top 20 list also saw dramatic decreases. A few saw changes in the opposite direction, including Cornell University, with a fundraising increase of $38 million, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with an increase of about $7 million. Kaplan said many universities are expecting 2010 to be a better year for fundraising, because some donors were waiting to see the stock market improve before making some planned gifts. But she did not expect the improvement to bring donations back up to 2008 levels…

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staff and wire services reports