Maybe Wildcats are more generous than Sun Devils, or maybe the University of Arizona is a money magnet because of its medical schools.
Whatever the reason, the UA consistently collects tens of millions of dollars more in charitable donations a year than Arizona State University, despite having about half as many students as ASU, according to a national group that tracks such philanthropy.
Last school year, for example, UA supporters donated about $151 million, compared with $108 million given by ASU donors.
The year before the gap was larger: UA received about $180 million and ASU about $99 million.
The trend has held true for most of the past decade, with UA besting ASU in fundraising for eight of the past 10 years.
The data are based on information the schools provide for the annual Voluntary Support of Education survey by the Council for Aid to Education based in New York City.
It includes all types of donations made in a given school year. It doesn’t include future pledges, which are counted only when money is actually received.
Schools use donor money in many ways, such as paying for scholarships or new buildings.
The UA, for example, is planning to use donations to pay for about $40 million in renovations to historic Old Main and Bear Down Gymnasium.
Stephen Des Georges, an official at the ASU Foundation for a New American University, said it isn’t quite fair to compare ASU with the UA on the fundraising front.
The UA has a huge advantage because of its two medical schools and affiliated hospitals, he said. ASU doesn’t have a medical school.
“Gifts for medical research often comprise 35 percent or more to those universities with medical schools, and very often those gifts come from grateful patients,” Des Georges said.
Jim Moore, head of the UA Foundation, did not dispute Des Georges’ assessment but said it’s tough to make comparisons.
“All of the public universities in our state are different and we really don’t compare one to the next for that reason,” he said
He said the UA has a global reputation to draw upon when raising money.
“Because the UA is internationally recognized, we also benefit from a broad community of donors who are passionate about solving the world’s biggest challenges,” Moore said.
Northern Arizona University, much smaller than the other two public schools, collects far less than either of them, about $11 million in total last school year.
The data also show donations to Pima Community College plunged more than 50 percent between 2010 and 2012.
That’s roughly the time frame when PCC started coming under scrutiny for shortcomings that eventually led to a probation sanction against the school. Much of the college’s senior leadership has since been replaced.
PCC donations went from more than $2 million in 2010 to $1 million or less in both 2011 and 2012.
Last year saw a rebound of sorts.
Donations topped $1.7 million for the 2013 school year after an old Boeing jet worth $800,000 was donated to PCC’s aviation program.