February 8, 2012; Source: Chronicle of Higher Education | The Chronicle of Higher Educationreports that Stanford University’s five-year fundraising campaign, which ended in December of 2011, brought in $6.2 billion. According to the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, that is a record for higher education fundraising campaigns—breaking the previous record by $2.3 billion. Stanford’s original goal of $4.3 billion was left in the dust long ago.

Like Stanford, other well-heeled universities are also vacuuming in donations. Cornell’s campaign seeking to raise $4.75 billion by the end of 2015 has already topped $3 billion. Columbia University’s campaign to raise $4 billion by 2013 has pulled in $4.4 billion so far, compelling the school to raise its target to $5 billion. The University of Southern California, long accustomed to raising more money than it targeted, announced a seven-year, $6 billion campaign and raised $1 billion quickly in a “quiet phase.” The Chroniclenotes that $200 million of the $1 billion was a gift from a university trustee.

For Stanford, big dollars came from Silicon Valley types, including $50 million from John Morgridge, the former Cisco Systems chairman.

Nothing against the Cardinal, but for a university to blow past all previous university fundraising records during a recession when most nonprofits are cutting back, surviving on fumes, or in a few cases going under, it says that there is a class of nonprofits—the “club,” as NPQ’s Ruth McCambridge once termed it—that does well no matter how the rest of society is faring. These days, some people might reclassify the members of this club as the nonprofit sector’s one percent. —Rick Cohen