Stanford's endowment covers only about 23% of the university's budget. Stanford's endowment is not small ($17 billion as of August 31, 2012) but must be measured against Stanford's big mission. The university must fund more than two-thirds of its operating expenses from other sources. The amount of endowment spent each year (about 5%) is carefully calibrated to enable these funds to support their purposes in perpetuity.
Most gifts are restricted. The majority of gifts to Stanford—and 75 percent of endowment funds—are directed toward particular schools, departments, or programs. Annual, expendable gifts provide vital flexibility.
Federal funding has declined. Federal support for university research is significant, but it's been declining for years in real dollars. The current budget environment makes such funding even more precarious.
Stanford's mission is global. We're one of the few institutions in the world with the depth and breadth to help with complex, global problems. Big ideas can be expensive. Making a difference is worth it.
Every gift makes a difference! Most gifts made to Stanford are under $1,000. But together they add up to millions for student aid, academics, research, and programs that enable the unparalleled quality of the education that we offer.