Oxford and Cambridge received forty five per cent of all philanthropic donations to British universities, which reached record-breaking levels in the academic year 2011 to 2012, according to a study by the National Centre for Social Research.

Funds of £774 million were secured by British institutions, showing an increase of 14.4% from the academic year 2010-2011, and a 33% increase from 2009-2010. Despite this development, the overall funding of some universities declined, with the average level of donations to individual institutions also decreasing. This suggests that while some universities continue to receive increasing financial support, others find their funds dwindling. Six institutions raised over £20 million, while nearly thirty secured funds of less than £100,000.

Oxford’s fundraising campaign Oxford Thinking was launched in August 2004, one year before Cambridge’s 800th Campaign, marking the 800th anniversary of the University. Oxford Thinking announced a new goal of £3 billion in October after hitting the original target of £1.25 billion, while Cambridge continues to raise funds after announcing their initial campaign, which aimed to raise £1 billion, as completed. Both reached their original fundraising targets in 2012 and 2010 respectively.

A substantial amount of funds has been raised by telethon campaigns that employ students, who contact alumni and request their financial support by way of a monthly or annual gift. “These campaigns are a good way not only to raise money for the university, but also to maintain contact between current students and the alumni,” said Eunice Kim, a student participant in Lady Margaret Hall’s telethon in March.

OUSU President David J. Townsend commented, “I think it’s natural that students and alumni feel a sense of gratitude for the philanthropy of previous generations, and when confronted by the withdrawal of much of the public funding of universities, alumni are increasingly stepping up to make sure that Oxford can be genuinely open to talent regardless of wealth.”

Michael Moritz, who made a record-breaking gift of £75 million to the university with his wife in July 2012, also cited the withdrawal of funding as being a motivation to donate, saying, “The increase in tuition fees certainly accentuated the need for scholarship programmes.”

Moritz, alumnus of Christ Church, made the largest gift for undergraduate student support in European history with his wife Harriet Heyman, foundingthe Moritz-Heyman scholarship programme.

Moritz told Cherwell, “Both my parents were the beneficiaries of educational scholarships at a time when their families could not afford to pay. When I came to the US I too also benefited from a scholarship which was the only way I could afford to study for a graduate degree. Both Harriet and I believe that family income should not be a barrier to study at Oxford. That’s why we came up with our scholarship programme.”

Moritz’s donation encourages the University to be proactive in its fundraising and aims to encourage further philanthropic giving to the institution. The donation’s three tranches of £25 million must be matched by a further £25 million from the university’s endowment, and then challenges the collegiate university to raise a further £50 million in gifts.

Oxford receives donations from all over the world, from alumni and non-alumni donors alike. According to Oxford University Press Office, 74% of those donations go directly to the colleges themselves. Oxford has a long-standing culture of philanthropy, with all colleges either being founded, or at least aided, by gifts to the University. Mr. Moritz believes that “donors to Oxford and its students are part of a long tradition,” and suggests that like previous generations, current donors are “just reacting to the circumstances of our times.”