University of Washington Policy Directory

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*Formerly part of the University Handbook
Administrative Policy Statement

Gift Acceptance

(Approved by the President per delegation of authority Executive Order No. 62)

1.  Purpose

Private support, including gifts, is essential in advancing the University’s teaching, research, and public service mission and strategic initiatives. Private support is most useful when it is flexible, where sufficient freedom is permitted to meet changing conditions at the University, while still meeting the general goals of the donor.

This policy:

  • Provides guidance to all University parties involved in fundraising, as well as prospective donors and their advisors regarding the conditions whereby philanthropic gifts are accepted;

  • Ensures all gifts accepted by the University will help further and fulfill its mission, priorities, and values and comply with IRS regulations and state and federal law;

  • Prevents acceptance of gifts that may expose the University to liabilities or overly burdensome restrictions.

2.  Scope

This policy applies to the following:

  • Faculty, staff, volunteers, students, and others who might solicit or receive gifts in the University’s name;

  • Donors who support the University either directly or through the UW Foundation;

This policy applies only to a subset of private support: gifts. This includes outright gifts, endowments, complex gifts, and planned/deferred gifts made to the University in furtherance of its charitable, educational, scientific, and service purposes. It does not apply to private funding for sponsored programs (grants), contracts for goods/services, or other sources of revenue.

3.  Delegation of Authority for Gift Evaluation and Acceptance

Certain gift evaluation and acceptance is delegated to the President or the President's designee in Board of Regents Governance, Standing Orders, Chapter 1, Section 8. The President's designee is the Senior Vice President for University Advancement. Through this designation, University Advancement is responsible for establishing and upholding gift evaluation and acceptance policies and procedures as directed by the Senior Vice President in consultation with the President. Any transfer of assets intended as charitable gifts to the University must be accepted, processed, accounted for, receipted, and acknowledged by University Advancement.

4.  Gift Acceptance Guiding Principles

Gifts to the University will be determined to be acceptable based on the following principles of gift acceptance.

  • The University will accept only gifts it believes will benefit the University and its mission. Gifts must be flexible enough to meet the needs of the University over the long term.

  • The University will accept only gifts it believes are consistent with the donor's expressed philanthropic interest.

The acceptance of a gift does not represent an express or implied endorsement of the donor's views, opinions, business practice or activities, or the related source of the gift.

The University encourages gifts through the generosity of donors that both further the work of the University and align with donor interests. All fundraising and constituent engagement activities on behalf of the University must aligned with strategic priorities and comply with local, state, and federal laws and with University policies.

Responsibilities for fundraising are shared among University administrators, deans, faculty, and administrative staff, including medical personnel and athletics staff, students, and University Advancement staff. When participating in fundraising activities, University personnel shall strive to provide appropriate information to donors and their advisors and shall seek to meet the needs of donors without pressure or undue influence, maintaining the highest ethical standards in all transactions.

  A. Compliance

The University will adhere to federal law, the Internal Revenue Service code and regulations, and Washington state law with respect to the acceptance, administration, and investment of private gifts.

  B. Limitations on Donor Control and Influence

Gifts may not be controlled by a donor, nor may a donor personally benefit from a gift nor have a role in influencing expenditures.

With concurrence from the University, donors may restrict gifts for a particular use or discipline, or to benefit one or more colleges/schools/programs within the University, but may not control how the gift funds are awarded, spent, or invested.

The University will not accept gifts directed toward a particular individual (e.g. specific faculty member), particular research result, or point of view. This ensures the tax deductibility of charitable gifts and maintains compliance with applicable laws and ethical standards.

  C. Right to Refuse or Rescind Gifts Due to Material Risk

The University, in its sole discretion, reserves the right to decline any proposed gift or rescind acceptance of any gift that presents a current or potential material risk including those that may cause harm to or impact the standing of the University.

  D. Gift Acceptance Committee

The Gift Acceptance Committee reviews in advance any proposed gift meeting one or more of the following conditions:
  • Presents unique, unusual, or special circumstances,
  • Represent a material risk, or
  • Is otherwise stipulated in the committee charter.
Any gift meeting these criteria must be approved by the Gift Acceptance Committee before the gift may be accepted.

5.  Restrictions on Gifts

  A. Fund/Use Restrictions

Whether funds are to be used at the discretion of a college, school, or unit, or for something more specific, Advancement staff must work closely with the donor in consultation with college, school, or unit administrators and central staff to outline how the donor's gift may be used with the following conditions:
  • Uses must be stated clearly with limited restrictions.

  • All new and updated fund agreements allow for the possibility of changed circumstances over time and include a contingency clause, which provides the Board of Regents with the authority to adjust fund agreements should they become impractical to administer in the future.

  • Endowed fund agreements are written with flexibility and sufficient freedom to provide long-term impact and are documented using the University's approved templates and language.
  B. Gifts in Support of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

University Advancement aligns its gift acceptance policies with the University's policies pertaining to diversity, equity, and inclusion, which include Regent Policy No. 33, Statement on Diversity and Regent Policy No. 34, Policy on Financial Aid, Including Scholarships, Grants, and Fellowships, to Promote Student Diversity at the University of Washington.

  C. Naming Gifts

Naming gifts that conflict with Regent Policy No. 50, Naming Policy, will not be accepted.

  D. Donor Anonymity and Recognition

The University is grateful for the gifts it receives and often shares news of a gift or publicly acknowledges a donor by name.

As a state agency, the University is subject to various state and federal laws pertaining to public records access. Donors who wish for their gifts to be anonymous or do not want any such recognition must notify the University in writing and such donor records will be kept confidential to the extent allowed by law.

No fully anonymous gift or gift for which the purpose cannot be disclosed will be accepted by the University. The donor's identity must be disclosed to the Senior Vice President for University Advancement and the President, who shall endeavor to maintain the donor's anonymity to the extent allowed by law.

6.  Documentation

All gifts and pledges must be documented with a written gift instrument (e.g., gift agreement, memorandum of understanding, check, commitment form, online form, or other written documentation completed for a gift via phone) that includes:

  • A description of the gift;

  • Gift purpose: current use or endowed;

  • Gift use: unrestricted or any donor-imposed restrictions;

  • Any other information necessary to fully document the donor’s wishes (e.g., whether the donor wishes to be acknowledged by name or not).

There are additional specific documentation requirements for new endowed gifts, gifts that confer special naming (recognition), complex gifts, and planned/deferred gifts. Gift terms must be documented in accordance with the University’s gift acceptance procedures.

7.  Special Considerations

  A. Foreign Donors

The University complies with federal and state laws regarding review and reporting requirements for gifts and grants from foreign sources, foreign governments, or foreign persons. Federal regulations require universities that receive Title IV funding to report certain gifts or contracts from foreign entities. University Advancement shall obtain required information for compliance with federal and state laws prior to acceptance of applicable gifts.

  B. Student Fundraising

All students interested in fundraising for a University registered student organization, club, or other campus purpose must do so under the supervision of the Student Activities Office (SAO) and must adhere to SAO policies and procedures and to this policy. The only exceptions are senior class gifts and approved University crowdfunding projects coordinated through the University Advancement team.

8.  Gift Assessment and Fees

Information about the institutional gift assessment can be found in APS 36.2. Information about endowment fees, which are a part of the University’s investment policy, can be found on the UW Treasury website.

9.  Receipting of Gifts

The University provides written receipts for accepted gifts via the University Advancement Gift Services office or the Office for Gift Planning. Such receipts include the information required by the IRS for U.S. donors.

The University will not provide gift receipts for contributions of personal or volunteer services, software licenses, partial interests in property (e.g., use of property or facilities, such as hotel rooms, time shares, beach houses, and rounds of golf), free advertising or promotion of the University, loaned equipment or property, or pledges. At its discretion the University may provide certain recognition for such contributions.

The University will not provide legal or tax advice to donors, nor can the University guarantee whether a gift will be deductible for a particular donor. Donors are encouraged to seek such advice from their own legal and tax counsel and financial advisors so that they are fully aware of potential advantages or disadvantages of a gift as well as any documentation or reporting obligations that may be required of the donor, e.g., qualified appraisal or IRS Form 8283.

10.  Responsible Office and Additional Information

For additional information, contact the Office of University Advancement. For information about the UW Foundation and its role in accepting gifts for the benefit of the University, please visit the website.

Companions to this policy include:

  • Gift Acceptance Procedures and Guidelines, which further defines procedures for accepting specific gift assets and governs the creation and execution of formal gift agreements that document the mutual understanding between a donor and the University;

  • Gift Acceptance Committee charter, which defines the makeup and roles of the committee; and

  • Gift-Related Terminology, which provides a complete listing of terms used in gift acceptance policies and procedures.

11.  History

June 27, 2022.