In the current context of budgetary constraints affecting institutions of higher education, philanthropy becomes a need for new sources of funding. At the macroeconomic level, the cycle of economic stagnation that started in 2007-08 it makes barely real a new phase of expansion of public spending. Universities are large, complex and quite responsive organizations to the issue of economic dependence. Therefore dependence on public funding puts in danger research programs, investments in new equipment, staff remuneration policies of qualitative growth and the like.

In this restrictive environment, it makes sense to put on the agenda the challenge of finding new ways of financing through private fundraising. However, philanthropy is not an issue that is being handled by Catalan and Spanish university agenda. Conversely, European and North American philanthropy linked to higher education systems is now an established reality. 

The question is: are there some clues to start activating fundraising through philanthropy programs at higher education institutions in our country? The answer is yes, but some requirements should be fulfilled:

  • There must be the political will of University Chairman to get through a program of fundraising and philanthropy
  • It must be an institutional policy going beyond the mandate of the current Chairman, because philanthropy programs goals are always better achieved in the  long run
  • It will have to articulate a minimal operational structure with its relates resources:
    • Institutional Leadership
    • A senior fundraising officer
    • Alumni Network
    • Office for institutional communication
  • A institutional strategy for philanthropy, ranging from major donors to crowdfunding,  and an annual implementation program at the tactical and operational level
  • The higher education institution must also prioritize internal projects as candidates to attract new funds

Clearly, all this is a complex process affording many difficulties. Most Catalan universities have not developed its alumni network  and, therefore, that should be their first duty.   Similarly, opponents to the deployment of  philanthropy programs will argue that our social context largely differs from the existing one in the Anglo-Saxon countries, making philanthropy even more difficult.

Anyway, the fact is that the reduction of public funding to universities and other higher education institutions it is a structural fact and therefore funding sources need to diversified. As a result, the university that conceives philanthropy as a necessity that should be addressed right now, it will get a competitive advantage related to the rest.

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