A nationwide ranking of 396th usually isn't something to brag about.

Unless that ranking places Utah Valley State College among the likes of Stanford, Harvard and Yale for the amount of money received by the some 650,000 donation-seeking nonprofit organizations in the United States.UVSC this year joins the University of Utah and Brigham Young University in the Chronicle of Philanthropy's annual "Philanthropy 400" roster of social-service groups, charities, foundations and schools that received funds from private sources during the 1996 fiscal year.

The U., which jumped 10 positions to No. 91 from last year's rankings, bested BYU, which fell 39 slots to No. 182, in attracting wealthy donors with splashy capital campaigns to supplement programs, endow chairs, establish scholarships and support athletic teams.

No other Utah private or public school was mentioned on the list. The Osmond Foundation's Children Miracle Network ended up at No. 33.

For the fifth time, the top spot was claimed by the bell-ringing Salvation Army, which received more than $1 billion last year.

Rankings of fund-raising organizations were determined by how much was raised from private sources, in both cash and in-kind gifts, for the fiscal year ending in 1996. The figures are compiled from financial data found on informational tax returns, audited financial statements, annual reports, responses to a questionnaire and listings of the Council for Aid to Education.

The U.'s $79.2 million, mostly given in cash and other assets, seems paltry compared to No. 4 Emory University's $415.4 million, driven by a $295-million gift in Coca-Cola stock.

J. Micheal Mattson, vice president for development, credits the U.'s rise in rankings to the university's "Sesquicentennial" capital campaign, led by businessman Spencer Eccles.

A strong stock market also helped. Donors were more willing to open their pockets for gifts to both academic and athletic departments after reaping unexpected windfalls from investments, he said.

"I quote Winston Churchill: `Success is never final,' " Mattson said. "We just hope to do better next year."

BYU also benefited from a two-year capital campaign dubbed "Lighting the Way" that began in 1996.

Most of the $42 million received, reported in present value, will go specifically for the campaign's goals, such as teaching and scholarship awards, faculty development, college endowments, travel money for performing-art groups and an expansion of the library, said spokeswoman Carri Jenkins.

Development head M. McClain Bybee said BYU, which offers mostly undergraduate classes, is particularly pleased with the ranking in comparison to other universities.

"We ask our donors, `How would you like to invest in kids?' " he said. "You know what? It works."

A $56.5 million tally for the 1996-97 fiscal year bodes very well for the LDS Church-owned school. It was the best in the school's history, Bybee said.

"Our goal is to fund featured priorities in that campaign," he said. "That's what we are focusing on."

With $17.2 million, UVSC was one of a handful of state colleges with an emphasis on lower-division courses that squeaked into the top 400. Some $13.2 million are deferred gifts, meaning the former trade school will receive the money in increments for several years.

The college's three-year capital campaign, "Giving for Greatness," brought in $7 million more than the $24-million goal, says Cory Duckwork, who heads the college's fund-raising efforts.

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Additional Information

3 make the grade

Utah colleges among the Chronicle of Philanthropy's annual "Philanthropy 400" roster of social-service groups and schools benefiting from private sources during fiscal 1996:

91. University of Utah

182. Brigham Young University

396. Utah Valley State College