Harvard raises $1.19b in 2016, the most among US colleges

(Charlie Mahoney/New York Times/File)

Harvard University raised more money than any other school in the country last year — $1.19 billion — continuing a pattern in which the nation’s wealthiest colleges and universities receive an outsized share of charitable giving to higher education.

In second place was Stanford University, with $951.15 million, according to an annual survey by the Council for Aid to Education, a New York nonprofit.

Last year’s rankings mark only the second time in roughly a decade that Harvard has raised more money annually than Stanford, and the third consecutive year that Harvard has exceeded seven figures.

In 2015, Stanford topped the list at $1.63 billion, while Harvard received $1.05 billion.


However, Harvard’s fund-raising last year was essentially nullified by its reported a negative 2 percent return on its endowment, now estimated at $35.7 billion, its worst performance since the depths of the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

Harvard’s investment returns last year were also well below those of several of its peers, including Yale and MIT, leading to a huge shake-up of its investment staff.

According to the fund-raising survey, released Tuesday, the only other Massachusetts college or university among last year’s top 20 beneficiaries was MIT, which raised $419.75 million, about $20 million less than the year before.

The charitable gifts received by those 20 schools accounted for 27 percent of the $41 billion in contributions made to all US colleges and universities last year, showing that philanthropic wealth continues to disproportionately benefit the country’s richest educational institutions.

Overall, gifts from alumni declined by 8.5 percent, although gifts from corporations, foundations, and other organizations increased, helping to make up for the decrease in individual giving. The drop in individual philanthropy is attributed to the weak 2016 stock market, which the survey said “likely depressed personal giving.”


Adjusted for inflation, last year’s tally is roughly the same as the total amount raised by colleges and universities in the previous year: $40.3 billion.

Sacha Pfeiffer can be reached at pfeiffer@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @SachaPfeiffer.