The Endowment of Harvard

Harvard Endowment, Endowment at Harvard, Harvard University Endowment Size

Harvard University has the largest endowment of any university in the world (photo credit: Chensiyuan).

Harvard University raised more money last year than any university in America. In fact, Harvard raked in $1.19 billion in 2016 — the most the university has ever raised in a single year. Indeed, because of Stanford’s recent capital raising successes, it was the first time that Harvard raised the most money among American universities since 2014. In nine of the last eleven years, Stanford has out-capital raised Harvard. But not in 2016…the tables turned as Stanford only raked in $951 million. Stanford can’t claim they took in a billion in 2016. But Harvard sure can.

As reports Brandon J. Dixon and Leah S. Yared for “The Harvard Crimson,” “This particularly high fundraising figure comes in a year when higher education institutions collected an unprecedented number of donations. According to the study, colleges and universities in the United States collectively raised nearly $41 billion in fiscal year 2016…The particularly successful fundraising year comes as declining revenue streams could ‘significantly constrain’ budgets across the University. The value of Harvard’s endowment sunk by almost $2 billion in fiscal year 2016, and Harvard Management Company expects its returns to be low in the future. Administrators are also concerned that federal funding levels could drop.”

So while the size of Harvard’s endowment dropped in 2016, the university had no trouble raising capital. And the university’s endowment remains the largest of any university in all the world — though the endowment’s investors are now under a bit more pressure than usual, one could conjecture. The size of the Harvard endowment isn’t even particularly close to the size of the endowments of schools with notably high figures — with the University of Texas a far-behind second. Yale University has the third largest endowment. Stanford University has the fourth largest endowment. And Princeton University rounds out the top five.

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