IN LAST 5 YEARS, AVERAGE 2-YEAR FELLOWSHIP AWARD GROWS NEARLY $15,000
MBA tuition and fees accounted for 17% of total revenue, at $133 million, an increase from the $127 million of 2016. That’s still not enough to cover program expenses, however, and that’s where donations come into play in a big way. The school says shortfalls are offset primarily by income from gifts given by alumni and friends of the school “whose generosity enriches the HBS educational experience for future generations of students.”
Overall, the report reads, “Fiscal 2017 was a strong financial year for Harvard Business School. Revenues grew faster than expenses for the third consecutive year, resulting in double-digit growth in cash from operations. This cash flow enabled HBS to continue executing on its strategic priorities and investing in core programs and activities, while ending the year with a stronger-than-expected balance of unrestricted reserves.”
That bodes well for future scholarship offerings in the MBA program, which about half of HBS students receive. Fellowships “cover an average of more than 50% of total tuition. Average fellowship support per student increased 5% in fiscal 2017 to $37,312 from $35,571 in the prior year. Over the past five fiscal years, the school’s average two-year MBA fellowship award has grown from $60,620 for the Class of 2013 to $75,000 for the Class of 2018.
“Funding for fellowships comes from restricted endowment and current use giving by HBS alumni and friends,” the report continues. “These funds are supplemented by unrestricted funds as necessary, which totaled $4 million in fiscal 2017.”
EFFECTS OF BAD ENDOWMENT RETURN IN 2016 TO BE FELT IN 2018
As the report relates, the largest of the school’s philanthropic revenue sources is the annual endowment distribution, which for fiscal 2017 increased nearly 6% to $146 million, amounting to 18% of the school’s total revenue. “The HBS endowment currently consists of more than 1,000 discreet funds established over the years by individual donors, corporations, and reunion classes,” the report reads. “The school budgets the use of endowment distributions to support operations in accordance with the donors’ intentions and the terms of each gift.”
The school determines the annual payout rate — that is, the percentage of the endowment’s prior year-end market value withdrawn and distributed annually for operations and for one-time or time-limited strategic purposes. This rate applies to HBS and the other schools at Harvard. “Consistent with the goal of preserving the value of the endowment and generating a predictable stream of available income, the targeted annual payout range is 5.0% to 5.5%,” the report reads. “The payout rate for fiscal 2017 was 5.4%. In 2016, the rate was 5.1%.”
In 2016, the Harvard endowment generated a -2% investment return, net of all expenses and fees, compared with a 5.8% investment return for the prior year. It was the worst return since fiscal 2009, when the endowment return was a negative 27.3%. The best returns over the past 10-year period was in fiscal 2011 when returns reached 21.4% and fiscal 2007 when return was 23%.
The brutal 2016 return will continue to affect the school in 2018, according to the report. “The 2% investment loss experienced by the Harvard endowment in fiscal 2016 …will limit growth in the endowment distribution across the university to essentially zero in fiscal 2018. The endowment posted a return of 8.1% for fiscal 2017, which will support modest growth in the endowment distribution across the university in fiscal 2019.”
HBS COMMUNITY DEMONSTRATES ‘EXTRAORDINARY INVOLVEMENT & GENEROSITY’
Through The Harvard Business School Campaign, the school scooped up $233 million in new gifts and pledges during the year, up 45% from $161 million during fiscal 2016. Cash gifts to the school increased 35% from $141 million to $190 million. Approximately 60% of the cash giving was intended by donors to sustain the school’s core operations over the long term by funding new or existing endowment accounts, according to the school, and to support the development of the HBS campus. Generally, around a quarter of the school’s MBA alumni can be counted on as donors; in 2017, nearly 12,800 individuals, or 27% of alumni, donated to HBS. “Through The Harvard Business School Campaign, the HBS community continued to demonstrate extraordinary involvement and generosity,” the report reads.
Unrestricted current use giving to HBS grew in fiscal 2017 for the eighth consecutive year. “Current use giving — both restricted and unrestricted — has become increasingly critical in recent years as a source of funding for innovation across the school,” the report reads. “Over the past five years, total giving in these categories has more than doubled from $35 million to $74 million.”
The school said revenue from flexible gifts was up 5% to $42 million, from $40 million in fiscal 2016. Revenue from restricted current-use gifts stayed flat at $32 million. Additionally, cash giving to the endowment grew to $85 million, from $51 million in the prior year, and cash giving for construction projects nearly doubled to $30 million from $16 million.
The fiscal 2017 year-end market value of the HBS endowment was $3.5 billion at June 30, 2017, compared with $3.2 billion a year earlier. “This increase reflected the 8.1% net growth in market value and the subtraction of the school’s annual distribution and decapitalizations, offset by the $85 million in endowment gifts received by HBS during the year,” the report reads.