NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Supply of and Demand for Charitable Donations to Higher Education

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


This chapter is a preliminary draft unless otherwise noted. It may not have been subjected to the formal review process of the NBER. This page will be updated as the chapter is revised.

Chapter in forthcoming NBER book How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education, Jeffrey Brown and Caroline Hoxby, editors
Conference held September 27-28, 2012
Forthcoming from University of Chicago Press

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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This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w18389, The Supply of and Demand for Charitable Donations to Higher Education, Jeffrey R. Brown, Stephen G. Dimmock, Scott Weisbenner
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