Special Edition: Philanthropy and Universities

Of all the institutions, Universities are without a doubt those that maintain the most privileged relationship with the philanthropic sector. Historically, the creation of many Canadian and American universities stem from acts of charity. Close to home, we have McGill University that was founded thanks to a legacy gift by James McGill. However, philanthropy can also intervene after the founding of a university institution; it can play a role at different times throughout its development, be it for the creation of a pavilion, the support a research chair, or simply to award scholarships. To come back to the example of McGill University, they are the recent recipients of a colossal 200 million dollar donation from the McCall MacBain couple’s foundation – which is the biggest donation ever recorded in Canadian history – with the aim of establishing a fund that will provide yearly scholarships. However, this case should not eclipse the bigger picture. If we look at the global situation, we can state that the education sector is the main recipient of grantmaking philanthropy: 86% of the largest Canadian foundations confirmed funding the education sector in 2011, which allowed it to receive 28% of all funding offered by these wealthy foundations (Imagine Canada and PFC, 2014, p.12). The references presented in our ‘Philanthropy and Universities’ newsletter cover different aspects of the intimate relationship between universities and the philanthropic world.

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