In keeping with national trends, giving to the University of Pennsylvania was down over fiscal 2008's record-breaking year, but officials were planning for that and were upbeat that the school nonetheless exceeded its target.

Penn took in $440 million for the 2008-09 year ending June 30, down $36 million or 7.5 percent from the year before but still its second-highest year ever, said John Zeller, Penn's vice president for development and alumni relations.

Penn released its numbers yesterday.

Its goal for the year was $350 million, he said, explaining that the school expected to be down considerably from fiscal 2008 - the first year that its $3.5 billion capital campaign went public, bringing in a flurry of money.

Where the university did fall short of its goal was in commitments, he said. The school received new pledges for $398 million; its goal was $450 million.

"The year was very good, given all that was going on in the world," Zeller said. "We are grateful to our donors and alumni and friends and parents for the support they've given us."

Across the country, education philanthropy - largely at colleges and universities - decreased 5.5 percent from 2007 to 2008, according to the Giving USA Foundation, an Illinois nonprofit that monitors charitable gifts. The decline was the steepest since 1975.

Around the region, some area schools, such as Drexel University, Ursinus College, and Philadelphia University, bucked that trend with double-digit increases in fund-raising. Others had double-digit slides, including Temple and Lincoln Universities and Haverford College.

Penn met its target of reaching 70 percent of its $3.5 billion campaign goal by June 30, Zeller said. The school has collected $2.455 billion for the campaign, which started its quiet phase in July 2005 and is scheduled to end in June 2012.

Zeller said he was not sure what next year would bring for fund-raising. But even if the economy continues to recover, it's likely to take longer to secure larger gifts, he said. Donors can make commitments for gifts up to five years, he said.

Contact staff writer Susan Snyder at 215-854-4693 or ssnyder@phillynews.com.