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Cal Parents Fund: As Cal sustains its excellence, the role of philanthropy grows

By David Peterkofsky

As Cal parents, you may receive the occasional mailing or phone call from campus asking you to make a gift to the Cal Parents Fund or other areas of campus in support of your child’s education.

Chart: State Funding and Philanthropy, 2014-2015 revenues by sourceYour family already pays tuition. UC Berkeley is a public university that receives state funding. So why does Berkeley make such requests so often, you may wonder? The answer: Because private gifts are more important than ever to growing and sustaining its world-class excellence.

The numbers tell the story — state support for Berkeley has plummeted in recent years, requiring a new financial model built on a strong partnership between public and private sources of funding. Today, the state of California provides about 13 percent of Berkeley’s annual budget — down from 50 percent just 30 years ago — with the remainder coming from tuition, research funding, philanthropy and other sources.

At the same time, gifts from parents, alumni, corporations and other supporters made up 16 percent of Berkeley’s revenue stream in 2014–15, according to the University of California Office of the President.

And giving to campus is at an all-time high. In 2015–16, Berkeley set new records for both the number of gifts and the amount raised in private support. In all, more than 65,300 donors made nearly 100,000 gifts totaling $479.1 million. (Thanks to all of you who generously contributed to this record-breaking fundraising year.)

So the next time you get a letter or call from campus asking for your support, remember that it’s an opportunity to be part of something bigger: the desire of parents, alumni and others to maintain Cal’s place as the world’s top-ranked public university and to push it forward as we continue to lead the way in higher education. Increasingly, private gifts — at every level — from donors like you make all the difference. To learn more about what the Cal Parents Fund supports, visit

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