NACRO Financial Metrics Survey Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find frequently asked questions and answers regarding the NACRO Financial Metrics Survey that are intended to provide general information in support of your response efforts. Please note that, in some cases, specific circumstances will vary between institutions. Thank you for your assistance.

Survey Purpose

Survey Basics

Data-gathering (internal to my institution)

Collecting Data

Data Confidentiality

Survey Creation and Development

Reporting Survey Results

Should have any additional questions, concerns, etc., you can email us at [email protected].

Survey Purpose Questions

What is the purpose of the survey?
The survey’s purpose is to generate data indicative of broad corporate engagement across institutions. It is the goal of the Tools & Analysis Subcommittee to use the information collected by the annual survey to build a dataset that will serve as the industry standard reference point for understanding how corporations support universities.

The survey can also be a catalyst for corporate relations officers learning what data their institution collects, and which university offices maintain the data. This can assist officers in their daily corporate relations work and building internal relationships.

What are the personal and/or institutional benefits to taking the survey? How will taking the survey help me attain my personal metrics
Developing and measuring universal metrics will benefit both our profession and our corporate partners, helping to broaden understanding of the extent to which universities are engaged with the private sector. Establishing benchmarks elevates the profession, provides a means of measuring the success of corporate relations programs against true peer institutions, and allows institutions to develop consistency in terms of how corporate engagement is valued and managed internally.

In addition, the sooner we establish a baseline, the sooner we will be able to see those trends over time. Our world is continuously changing, and university corporate relations need to keep pace with dynamic corporate priorities. The results from the longitudinal analysis of established data on corporate engagement will enable institutions to understand trends and respond accordingly.

By being able to measure real corporate engagement against true peer institutions, corporate relations offices can better establish individual officer metrics that are data driven and more realistic. For your own personal career growth, going through the exercise of gathering this data will make you more aware of the full breadth of corporate touchpoints at your university, and it will expose you to the inner data workings of your university – knowledge is power. It can also help corporate relations have meaningful internal conversations about value and resources. HERD and CASE already collect data.

How is the NACRO Financial Metrics Survey different?
The single metric most frequently used to evaluate corporate relationships is revenue secured. While institutions can answer this for themselves (often restricted to organizational silos), there is no national repository for an “all sources” data set captured with clear and consistent rules. This gap creates an inability for institutions to accurately identify and compare revenue streams against peers.

NACRO’s Financial Metrics Survey collects data inclusive of all funding that comes from a corporation or corporate foundation to determine an “all-in number,” with sufficient granularity to allow for true peer comparisons.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s (CASE) VSE Survey consists of philanthropic metrics that are categorized broadly but omits reporting on corporate research funding. Conversely, the Higher Education Research and Development Survey (HERD) collects a small subset of data related only to corporate research funding. Neither survey contains all of the data necessary to evaluate and understand the full financial impact of corporate funding on a university.

Specific information about the CASE and HERD surveys can be found at and

Survey Basics

How long will the survey take?
We are unable to provide a true estimate for how long the data gathering portion of the survey may take because organizational structures vary greatly among academic institutions. Data points requested to report typically live in various areas of campus and requires facilitating the collection of these data points from several entities on campus. The data collection tool provided (Excel Workbook) will allow you to track data as it’s received.

Once you’ve collected as much of the data as you’re able to, answering the official survey via Qualtrics will likely take less than 10 minutes.

How long will the survey remain open?

The survey will officially be sent out for responses in the beginning of March and the survey will remain open through mid-April. Dates vary from year to year.

How can NACRO help me complete the survey or work through the process?
In order to help aid everyone throughout the process of completing the survey, we have provided several supporting documents. These include a letter to from the NACRO Co-Presidents, a survey collection tool and definitions document for the data requested (Excel spreadsheet), and this FAQ document.

The Tools & Analysis Subcommittee is also available to provide 1:1 assistance to assist any institution in its data collection process.

If you should have any additional questions, concerns, etc., you can email us at [email protected].

There are multiple NACRO members at my institution. Should we each answer the survey?
No. The survey is designed to be answered at the institutional level. Only one individual needs to submit the survey results for your institution. (As a side note, depending on what gathering the data entails at your respective university, it may be useful to divide up securing the various data needed.)

Data-gathering Questions (internal to my institution)

Will the survey save my answers, or do I need to be prepared to answer all of the questions at one time?
The official survey administered via Qualtrics requires all questions to be answered at one time. Because of this, we have provided a data collection tool (Excel spreadsheet) that will allow you to track data as you obtain it. Once you’ve collected as much of the data as you’re able to, you can submit your final answers at one time in the Qualtrics survey.

I do not have access to all the requested data myself. Does NACRO have any suggestions on how best to collect the data or which offices on my campus may have what I’m looking for?
We understand that at many universities access to different types of data is segmented across multiple departments. A good starting point may be your own fiscal officer who will likely have a good grasp of what data exists and where to retrieve it. We recommend checking with areas of your university (if you have them) focused on such matters as business engagement, corporate partners programs, clinical trials, core research facilities that provide services, executive education, philanthropy, sponsored research (or research in general), student projects, student and/or event sponsorships, and technology transfer.

I cannot obtain all the requested data and/or there is some data that I cannot obtain with the specificity requested in the survey. Should I still submit the data that I can obtain?
Yes. It is understood that not all survey respondents will be able to completely gather all the requested data and that’s perfectly okay. We ask that you fill out whatever you can; for any metric you’re unable to fill out, there is a question near the end of the survey where you can let us know you were unable to collect certain data points and provide any feedback as to why this was the case. This feedback will help us to continue to refine the survey in the future.

I obtained more current data, or I learned that I mistakenly submitted incorrect or incomplete data. Can I amend survey answers after they have been submitted? How?
Yes. While the survey will be closed after you submit your answers, if you need to amend your answers for any reason, please email the Tools & Analysis Subcommittee at [email protected].

Collecting Data Questions

How often will the survey be sent out? I submitted survey answers last year. Why is it important that I go to the trouble of answering the survey again this year?
The survey will be distributed annually in September.

Obtaining data on an annual basis is important in measuring data trends over time. The value that will derive from collecting data over a series of years—showing not just trends across the data each year, but macroscopic shifts in funding over time as well—cannot be overstated. The sooner we establish a baseline, the sooner we will be able to see those trends over time.

Will universities without NACRO representation be surveyed?

Yes. Universities that attend NACRO’s annual conference but have opted not to become members will be asked to participate in the survey.

Why are you collecting demographic information about my institution?
The purpose of the survey is to allow NACRO members to make peer-to-peer comparisons of complete corporate investment in institutions. Demographic data is necessary to this process.

Data Confidentiality Questions

How will data be stored and protected? What is the data privacy policy?
NACRO utilizes third-party vendors to administer online surveys and relies upon the vendor’s platform infrastructure regarding data protection and privacy standards and practices to ensure the integrity of data. The Financial Metrics Survey source data will be made available to NACRO members when results are reported to assist members in identification of peer institutions. Static reports may be made available to non-members with institutions identified by demographic information.

I work at a private university whose data is not publicly available. Can NACRO ensure the continued confidentiality of our data? When data is made available, will people be able to determine what data my university specifically provided?
At this time, it is the intent that survey answers will be transparent and attributable to your university for NACRO members. The main purpose of the survey is to generate data that will allow institutions to accurately identify and benchmark against their peer institutions. To that end, transparency is key.

For reports accessible to people outside of NACRO, institutions will be identified by demographic data such as Carnegie classification, AAU status, geographic location, size, and others.

For example, a description based on demographic data may look something like “Private University X is a member of the AAU and classified by Carnegie as a R1 Doctoral University. Private University X is located in the West North Central portion of the United States, has a medical school, has total student enrollment between 5,001 and 10,000 students, and has a total faculty (tenured/tenure track) headcount between 500 and 999.”

Will NACRO own the data and for how long will data be maintained?
Survey data is owned by NACRO. The Tools & Analysis Subcommittee will manage and analyze the data that will be stored in an online data management platform. The data will be maintained indefinitely for longitudinal analysis purposes.

Survey Creation Questions

How was the survey created?
The Gold Standards Subcommittee (which has since been merged with the Tools & Analysis Subcommittee) piloted the survey twice—in 2017 and 2019. The first pilot was very comprehensive, seeking approximately 86 data points to be collected. Feedback from participating institutions was clear that this level of granularity, while desirable and informative, was near-impossible to collect. The second pilot, largely the same as the final survey tool that has been distributed, reduced the requests to a few key data points that divide total funding into broader categories.

How were the data points in the survey determined? Are they the same for all types of institutions?
The Tools & Analysis Subcommittee developed a robust list of financial data points that were defined in a way to explicitly ensure that data being reported was consistent from institution to institution.

The fundamental division of the data is gift versus grant/contract. Within these, the data is further divided to understand the purpose of the funds in ten categories: research; clinical trials; fee-for-service; student programming; and community engagement. This division of data points provides meaningful discrimination between the main reasons of why companies work with universities, and importantly, are categories of work that are very differently prioritized at different types of academic institutions. For example, institutions with major medical centers potentially receive a great deal of clinical trial funding from corporations. Failure to collect that data separately from the other categories would hide the real impact of the institution’s medical center on its overall corporate investment profile.

All institutions will be asked the same questions regardless of their institution type.

How many institutions participated in the Gold Standards pilot surveys?
Eight universities participated in the 2017 pilot survey. Nine participated in 2019.

How many institutions participated in the inaugural year of the Financial Metrics Survey (2020–21)?

31 universities participated in the 2020 inaugural survey, with 24 reporting data on the Four Easy Numbers and being included in the initial dataset.

Reporting Survey Results

How often and when will the data be reported?
Data will be gathered and reported annually. During the initial years of the survey, data will be reported preliminarily with the first comprehensive data reported out in 2023.

How will data be presented or otherwise made available for review?
Data will be summarized and shared in a variety of formats. Reports will primarily use an interactive online data management and reporting platform. Other forums for survey findings may include periodic webinars, presentations at the annual meeting, and the NACRO monthly newsletter.

Will only NACRO members be able to see the results of the survey?
Yes. Only NACRO members will have access to the actual source data through an online data management and reporting platform. Non-members will be able to view static reports with institutions identified by demographic information as described above