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Originally published Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 8:29 PM

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UW breaks fundraising record

The University of Washington raised the eighth-largest amount in charitable donations among the nation’s public universities in 2013.

Seattle Times higher-education reporter

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The University of Washington raised $336 million in charitable donations in 2013, ranking it eighth-highest among the nation’s public universities for the most money raised and breaking its own record from the previous year.

In the first six months of fiscal 2014, the UW has already surpassed $300 million, putting it on track to break another record.

About $54 million of the current year’s largesse came from UW alum Jack MacDonald, a frugal, eccentric Seattle attorney who amassed a fortune and gave it all away when he died in September at the age of 98. MacDonald split his $187 million fortune among Seattle Children’s Research Institute, the University of Washington School of Law and the Salvation Army.

Nationwide, colleges and universities took in $33.8 billion in charitable contributions during the 2013 fiscal year, according to the Council for Aid to Education, which collects the figures annually. The number is a 10 percent increase from 2012 and is due in large part to the stock-market rebound, according to the survey’s directors.

The UW raised nearly seven times more than Washington State University, which received the second-most money in the state, with contributions of $50 million. Gonzaga University in Spokane, which raised $21 million, came in third.

In 2012, the UW also raised more than in any previous year, collecting $320 million in charitable contributions.

The UW uses a slightly different metric when analyzing the success of its annual giving; it looks at the average over a five-year period, which smooths out the effects of large, one-time donations, said Walt Dryfoos, associate vice president of advancement services for the university. By that metric, the UW is fourth in the nation for charitable contributions.

Generous donors have little effect on the UW’s tuition rates, which have increased sharply in the past five years due to state budget cutbacks. That’s because most donors give to specific causes when they write a check to the UW — they “typically have very strong opinions on how they want their money spent,” Dryfoos said.

The largest recipient of donations is UW Medicine, which took in $126 million over the one-year period from more than 15,000 donors.

“People get a strong interest in cancer, or aging, or heart disease, and they give to support research, or doctors who are doing research, that might cure that disease,” Dryfoos said. “If doctors save your life, you are grateful.”

Intercollegiate athletics also raked in big contributions, raising $31 million in the past year from more than 25,000 donors. A good chunk of that money went for renovations to Husky Stadium, which reopened last year.

Among all public and private universities in the nation, the University of California system raised the most in fiscal 2013, taking in $1.6 billion. Stanford University came in second — it was first among private universities — raising $931 million.

The amount raised by Washington’s public universities and colleges for 2013 is as follows: Western Washington University, $5 million; Clark College, a community college in Vancouver, $2 million; Eastern Washington University, $2 million; Central Washington University, $1.6 million, and Green River Community College, $1 million.

The Evergreen State College was not listed in the report.

Katherine Long: 206-464-2219 or On Twitter @katherinelong.

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