Record-Breaking Donations Soften the Blow of Harvard’s $2 Billion Investment Losses
In January, following investment losses of $2 billion for the year and a string of bad returns in previous years, Harvard Management Corp (HMC) pulled out of the business of managing the university’s gargantuan endowment fund.
But on Tuesday, it emerged that the world’s richest college had recouped $1.2 billion—more than half of its fiscal 2016 investment losses—in donations.
This is only the second time in 12 years that Harvard has hauled in more donations that Stanford, which took $951 million, Bloomberg reports.
The numbers come from New York-based Council for Aid to Education, which released survey data on charitable giving to universities on Tuesday. By their reckoning, universities and colleges across the U.S. collected a total of $41 billion in fiscal year 2016. That’s almost 2% more than last year’s total—and it came during a year in which U.S. college endowments saw an average decline of 1.9%.
“When investment earnings for colleges are down, they’re also down in portfolios for wealthy individuals and foundation and donor-advised funds,” Ann Kaplan, the CAE survey’s director told Bloomberg, “When one of these sources loses wealth, generally on the whole, they all lose ground at the same time.”
For more on Harvard’s finances, watch Fortune’s video:
As with last year, elite schools were they most likely recipients of donor funding. More than a quarter of donations went to the top 20 U.S colleges and universities—proving that monied donors can help the richest schools offset endowment losses.
Meanwhile, a new bill being considered by Congress could curtail tax breaks earned through such gifts unless donors set aside part of their donations for financial aid provisioning.