Millions of Americans will respond. Last year, corporations, foundations and individuals donated $25.6 billion to U.S. colleges and universities, the Council for Aid to Education reported recently -- a nearly 5 percent increase from the year before. Gifts from alumni -- nearly 28 percent of the total -- increased 6 percent. Non-alumni individuals donated an additional 20 percent, CAE reported.
According to Slate, the online magazine, last year's largest gifts to higher education included Mesa Petroleum founder Boone Pickens' $165 million gift to Oklahoma State University, his alma mater; eBay founder and Chairman Pierre Omidyar's $103 million gift to his alma mater, Tufts University; and the late Ford Motor Co. heiress Josephine Ford's $50 million bequest to the College for Creative Studies in Detroit."