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HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018. The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

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Dear Vice-Chancellor or Principal

1. This letter summarises the outcomes and impact of the matched funding scheme and future steps to address the challenges for voluntary giving to higher education (HE). No action is required in response.


2. In 2008 the Government launched the three-year matched funding scheme for voluntary giving. The scheme, to be administered by HEFCE, was announced in HEFCE Circular letter 11/2008. The scheme aimed to achieve a step-change in the voluntary giving and matched eligible donations raised between August 2008 and July 2011 at participating higher education institutions (HEIs) and directly funded further education colleges (FECs).

3. The scheme has now ended, with all final payments to institutions made by 31 March 2012.

4. Funding for the scheme was originally announced at £200 million. This was subsequently reduced in the January 2012 grant letter to HEFCE to £148 million. At the outset we decided to invest £2 million of the total sum to help develop fundraising capacity within the HE sector which was seen as essential for the future. This included invested funds in a programme of support and training led by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Europe. We intend to invest the remaining funding to support the recommendations from the review ‘Philanthropic Support for Higher Education in UK: 2012 Status report and Challenges for the next decade’.

Participating institutions and impact

5. A total of 135 institutions participated in the matched funding scheme, including nine FECs, with each institution choosing the allocation tier which best reflected its experience in fundraising. The tiers each had different matched funding ratios and caps, as shown in Table 1.

Table 1            Tiers of the matched funding scheme for voluntary giving


Fundraising experience

Ratio public:private

Matched funding cap


Little or no fundraising experience




Existing development programmes in place




The most experienced fundraisers



6. The scheme has been very successful. Over the duration of the scheme, around £580 million of eligible gifts raised by English universities and colleges has been matched, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1          Eligible income raised in each year of the matched funding scheme by tier


Source: Ross-Case survey

7. This has resulted in payments of over £143 million to institutions. Annex A shows the allocations of matched payments made to institutions over the three years of the scheme.

8. The success of institutions in securing this level of philanthropic support is particularly encouraging given contemporary economic challenges, and even more so since the same period has seen support for other UK charities declining and a decrease in giving to HE in North America.

9. Professor Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol, president of Universities UK and chair of the board of CASE Europe, has commented on the scheme:

‘In addition to generating an alternative source of income, the HEFCE matched funding for voluntary giving scheme has succeeded in bringing about a culture change – it has raised the awareness of giving to higher education, helping to normalise giving at all levels. Universities themselves have articulated the case for the role of philanthropy in our sector – both individually and collectively. They have highlighted its impact on the lives of current and future students, academic research programmes and the communities where our institutions are rooted.’

10. A total of 55 institutions reached their cap for matched funding during the scheme: 13 tier-1 institutions, 16 tier-2 institutions and 26 institutions from tier 3 (see Figure 2).

Figure 2          Number of institutions from each tier who met their cap for matched funding

Source: HEFCE voluntary giving returns

11. The success of the matched funding scheme is further evidenced by the increase in the number of donors. In 2007-08, participating institutions received gifts from 115,787 donors. This rose to 157,788 in 2010-11, an increase of more than a third (see Figure 3).

Figure 3          Number of donors

Source: Ross-CASE survey 2012

CASE Europe support

12. As mentioned in paragraph 4, support has been given to institutions through training and development opportunities delivered by CASE Europe.

13. As at January 2012, 87 per cent of participating institutions, involving nearly 1,000 delegates across all three tier groups, benefitted from the CASE Europe programmes. Most of the programmes will finish later this summer, by which time it expects to have met the target of 90 per cent participation. Feedback indicates that these have been well received and are contributing to building capacity across a range of universities and colleges, leading to improved performance at raising gifts.

14. The Graduate Trainee Programme has been particularly successful. This programme recruits graduates to follow a year-long programme in host HEIs with strong development departments. The programmes, each designed by the host institution and CASE Europe, introduce trainees to good practice in all areas of development, creating a solid platform on which to base a career in fundraising. This programme has benefitted a total of 21 trainees. Seven are currently in training, with the remainder now in employment, mostly within HE. The programme will continue into a fourth year.

15. Similarly, support for the Leadership in Development Management Programme will continue until March 2013. This is another area where capacity is being built; it is targeted at emerging or new development directors, introducing them to the best ideas in the profession of HE fundraising.

16. CASE seminars and conferences have also been held for non-fundraising staff within institutions and for HE governors. 

Future philanthropic support for HE

17. The matched funding scheme was set up as a result of a recommendation made in the 2004 Thomas report, ‘Increasing voluntary giving to higher education’. As the sector faces a new phase in its evolution, fundraising and philanthropic support will become increasingly important in contributing to the resources available to institutions. It is timely now, as the matched funding scheme comes to an end, to review progress made by the sector in building on its endeavours and good practice in this area.

18. HEFCE has therefore commissioned a review of philanthropic support for HE in the UK. The review will focus on the following four areas of investigation where we are seeking to improve our understanding: 

  • donors to HE
  • government-initiated incentives for giving to HE
  • the impact of philanthropy on HE
  • the changes required by HEIs to improve their success in fundraising.

19. This work is being overseen by a review group chaired by Professor Shirley Pearce, Vice-Chancellor and President of Loughborough University. The other members of the group are: Professor Sir Rick Trainor, Principal of King’s College London; Martin Williams, Director of HE Policy, Department of Business, Innovation and Skills; Nick Blinco, Director of Development and Alumni Relations at the University of Birmingham; and a donor to HE, Rory Brooks of MML Capital Partners LLP.

20. We have commissioned More Partnership to support the work of the review, which will report this summer. The report will include recommendations for Government, institutions and donors. 


21. As part of the review, an open consultation has been launched addressing the key areas listed in paragraph 18. The consultation can be found at:

22. For further information, contact Fiona MacMillan, tel 0117 931 7039, e-mail

Yours sincerely


Sir Alan Langlands

Chief Executive

Date: 6 June 2012

Ref: Circular letter 14/2012

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions, Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Senior management, Development departments

Enquiries should be directed to:

Fiona MacMillan, tel 0117 931 7039, e-mail