Revision of Gift Acceptance Policy
Approved by the Board of Trustees on April 27, 2023
I. Policy Statement
Shenandoah University is grateful for the generosity of alumni, parents, friends, and organizations who support its educational mission through their philanthropy. Donors are critical partners in advancing the University’s mission, institutional priorities and strategic objectives.
II. Policy Purpose
This policy defines the principles by which gifts will be solicited, accepted, managed, and the authority to do so on behalf of the University. It provides transparency to donors and prospective donors, ensures the University’s adherence to donor intent, and ensures that accepted gifts are consistent with the mission and values of the University. The policy is guided by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) guidelines, and thus reflects industry standards.
III. University Advancement
University Advancement is organized to support the cultivation, solicitation, receipt, and stewardship of charitable contributions for the benefit of the University and ensures that all fundraising activities for the University are coordinated with and support the institutional priorities and strategic objectives of the University’s Board of Trustees. University Advancement is responsible for organizing, coordinating, and managing all fund-raising activities which involve individuals, private organizations, and corporations, including fundraising events.
B. Assistance to Donors
Advancement staff are available to meet with any prospective donor and their financial advisors, without obligation, to discuss areas of interest, the University’s funding priorities, types of charitable contributions and appropriate stewardship and recognition for the gift.
Although University Advancement staff will provide all appropriate assistance, the ultimate responsibility regarding asset valuations, tax deductibility, and similar federal, state and local legal compliance issues rests with the donor(s) and with such financial advisors as the donor(s) shall secure (as mandated by the IRS). All donors should utilize competent financial and legal advisors. University Advancement staff will always recommend that potential donors obtain such assistance.
A. Contribution or Exchange Transaction is determined by the University in accordance with Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2018-08, Clarifying the Scope and Accounting Guidance for Contributions Received and Contributions Made.
B. Charitable Contribution or Gift means an unconditional, voluntary, and non-reciprocal transfer or donation of funds or property to the University from an individual or entity that is accompanied by philanthropic intent and for which the donor does not receive or expect anything of value in return. This includes donations of surplus property by a governmental or other public sector entity. A charitable gift may, in some circumstances, be described as a charitable grant.
C. Exchange Transaction is a transaction in which both the donor and the recipient contribute approximately commensurate value. Exchange transactions are not considered to be gifts because the donor receives something of value in exchange for the contribution.
D. Standard Gift is interpreted as a gift in support of a University priority such as: The Annual Fund for the University or a Division or a School; a gift to existing funds such as scholarship funds, building funds and other existing priorities defined by the University. Standard gifts are unconditional, voluntary and non-reciprocal transfer of funds or securities to the University from an individual or entity that is accompanied by philanthropic intent and for which the donor does not receive anything of value. These gifts are documented using a standard University gift agreement. Lower level annual fund gifts can be made directly and usually are in response to the University’s mail, phone, social media and email appeals. They do not require a formal pledge document, however the donor’s intent is recorded by the appeal’s response mechanism.
E. Real Property consists of non-mortgaged real estate both improved (i.e., detached single-family residences, condominiums, apartment buildings, rental property, commercial property, etc.) and unimproved land (e.g., acreage). Gifts of real property are evaluated by appropriate officers of the University who will assess and approve their acceptance for the University’s use or to sell for an approved purpose.
F. Personal Property includes, but is not limited to antiques, art, artifacts, equipment, jewelry or gemstones, musical instruments, and valuable or rare books and manuscripts. Gifts of personal property are evaluated by appropriate officers of the University who will assess and approve their acceptance for the University’s use or to sell for an approved purpose.
G. Complex Gifts are defined as interest in a privately held company, private business equity, real estate, oil and gas interests, mineral rights, promissory notes, assignment of promissory notes, partnership interests, restricted or non-publicly traded securities, gifts of partial interest and property, gifts subject to a lien or other encumbrance, or similar assets. The definition extends to proposed gifts that may require undue or onerous burden on the University to match or otherwise provide financial or operational accommodation as a condition of the gift. All proposed Complex Gifts are subject to review by the Gift Acceptance Committee as described in this policy.
V. Gift Acceptance
Gifts are solicited and accepted when they will contribute to the approved purposes and strategic objectives of the University. The University welcomes and encourages expressions of interest in supporting the University. University Advancement officers are charged by the University to develop relationships with and explore the philanthropic interests of major donors and prospective major donors. These conversations are undertaken to ensure alignment with the donor’s wishes and the University’s strategic priorities, to verify that the donor intends to donate assets they legally control, to clarify the donative intent, and to understand the donor’s recognition expectations. Donor cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship are managed according to industry best practices. The University will accept gifts that are consistent with these principles:
- The gift is aligned with the University’s mission.
- The gift satisfies the University’s tax-exempt status, and all relevant University policies.
- The gift does not expose the University to unacceptable risk or liability.
- The gift is not linked to favorable consideration of admissions decisions or employment decisions for a donor’s family member or any other interested parties.
- Acceptance of the gift will not materially damage the reputation, standing, or integrity of the University.
- Restrictions proposed on the gift are not unreasonable or overly burdensome, do not allow a donor to exert management of the funds, do not require expenditures beyond the University’s resources, and do not compromise the academic freedom of the University community.
- The gift is not solicited from a University vendor or potential vendor as a condition, directly or indirectly, to doing business with the University. An expectation from a vendor or potential vendor that a gift should be part of a business relationship may result in business terms that are not favorable to the University.
University Advancement and its staff should consider these principles in connection with the solicitation or consideration of a gift as early as possible in the fundraising process.
VI. Gift Acceptance Authority
Gifts that comply with the principles in Section V may be accepted by the Senior Vice President or designee on behalf of the University. If a proposed gift appears to be inconsistent with any of the principles articulated in Section V of this policy, or otherwise presents apparent substantial risks, and the Senior Vice President or designee believes that the benefit of the proposed gift significantly outweighs the risks of accepting the gift, the matter shall be referred to the Gift Acceptance Committee for review, and the views of the Committee shall be shared with the President, who will make the determination on whether to accept the gift. The President should inform the Chair of the Board of Trustees of any proposed gift that the President believes presents significant legal, ethical, or reputational risks.
The Gift Acceptance Committee shall be composed of (1) Senior Vice President or designee, (2) the Vice President for Finance, who shall serve as Chair of the committee, and the (3) General Counsel.
The Senior Vice President shall refer all complex gifts to the Gift Acceptance Committee, and after valuation and due diligence if possible.
The Senior Vice President or designee may seek guidance from any member of the Gift Acceptance Committee with respect to any novel or complex issues, including those associated with unique gifts, complex gifts, and gifts of real estate.
VII. Anonymous Gifts
At the request of a donor, the University may treat a gift as anonymous. Two levels of anonymity can be honored:
Public Anonymity: This means that the donor’s name will not be listed on any public listing of donors to a project or fund.
Deep Anonymity: This means that the donor’s identity is known only to the Vice President of Advancement, the Vice President for Finance, the Controller, General Counsel, and the President, as well as limited essential personnel involved in recording the gift.
In no circumstance will a gift be accepted from an anonymous donor whose identity is not made known to the University nor from a donor who does not legally control the gifted asset.
The University is committed to transparency, and will share information about the receipt of gifts in a manner that best serves the interests of the University while attempting to respect the wishes of donors.
VIII. Charitable Gift Types
The University welcomes expressions of interest and financial support that are consistent with the principles of Section V, regardless of size or form, from any individual, family, business, corporation, granting organization, or similar source.
Gifts of immediate cash and/or negotiable securities are the forms of donor support which will have the greatest immediate impact on the University and its plans for the immediate future, therefore those should be encouraged.
A. Acceptable Charitable Contributions
Charitable Contributions may include but are not limited to the following:
- Capital assets;
- Multi-year written pledges;
- Real or personal property (the University reserves the right to limit gifts of property to those gifts that will be of benefit to the University);
- Tangible assets (the University reserves the right to limit gifts of property to those gifts that will be of benefit to the University);
- Appreciated securities or other investment instruments;
- Private business equity or partnership interests;
- Oil and gas interests and mineral rights;
- Cryptocurrency (which is cleared and accepted by a third party vendor then transferred as cash to the University);
- Deferred or planned gifts including, but not limited to:
- Insurance Policies
- Gifts of residence with a retained life interest
- Bequest intentions
B. Unacceptable Charitable Contributions
The following items are not considered a charitable contribution:
- Gifts of services are not tax-deductible for donors (IRS pub. 526) and so, the University does not acknowledge pro-bono services as gifts
C. Restricted and Unrestricted Gifts
Unrestricted Gifts. The University gratefully accepts unrestricted gifts. Most unrestricted gifts are given in support of the Annual Fund. These are accounted for and spent consistent with GAAP and relevant accounting standards.
If the University receives a bequest without restriction, the University President (or their designee) shall determine the direction and use of the gift, consistent with the University’s institutional priorities and strategic initiatives.
Restricted Gifts. The University accepts gifts restricted for a specific program or purpose. Consistent with GAAP, a gift is considered to be restricted when the purpose is not easily met within the fiscal year received and/or there is a time restriction included in the gift agreement or will.
The University discourages donors from narrowly restricting a gift for a hard to meet purpose. The University is better served when the intent is written in reasonably broad and flexible terms to maximize its usefulness to the University. The University’s standard practice is to include cy pres language in the agreement, permitting the University to use the gift for a similar purpose in the event the donor’s stated purpose in the gift agreement cannot be met. In the event a donative purpose cannot be met, the University will take the following steps (in order) to attempt to remedy the barrier to using the gift:
- The University will attempt to contact the donor or their representative and attempt to re-document the intent to a useful purpose.
- The University will review the gift agreement or will to identify any variance language that may exist to permit a modification to the donor intent.
- The University will examine eligibility for remedy via UPMIFA and follow the guidance of the Attorney General for VA to seek approval to remove or alter the barrier that inhibits spending.
University Gift Agreements will include the variance language that the Shenandoah University Board of Trustees shall have the authority to modify any restrictions or conditions on the distribution of funds for any specified charitable purpose or to specified agencies if, in the sole judgment of the Shenandoah University Board of Trustees, such restrictions or conditions become, in effect, unnecessary, incapable of fulfillment, or inconsistent with the charitable needs of Shenandoah University. The Shenandoah University Board of Trustees shall exercise this power consistent with the principle of maintaining, as close as possible, the original intent of the donor(s).
Naming Gifts Policy
Approved by the Board of Trustees on April 27, 2023
I. Policy Statement
The Naming Gifts Policy helps ensure that gifts with associated naming opportunities are managed in a consistent manner, and according to established University guidelines. It is also designed to provide donors with equitable, consistent, and appropriate recognition and stewardship for their generous support, leading to lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with the University.
This Policy applies to gifts with associated naming opportunities at the University as a form of recognition for the contributions of individuals or organizations to the University.
II. General Requirements
Naming of a University asset or entity must be made in accordance with this policy and related procedures, and meet all terms of the University’s Gift Acceptance, Management, and Disposition of Philanthropic Gifts Policy.
Selection of name will be done in collaboration with the donor in accordance with the criteria set forth in this policy. Factors that may be considered by the University in determining the appropriateness of a name include:
- Consistency with the mission, vision, reputation, and values of the University.
- Whether a name may imply the University’s endorsement of a political or ideological position or the use of a particular product or service.
- Potential conflict of interest (primarily in cases of corporate or organizational naming gifts).
- Whether the name reinforces the University’s branding standards.
- Potential conflict with existing named entities or spaces, or existing legal commitment.
- A named entity may not be announced by any University unit prior to final approval as required by this policy.
III. Types of Funds with Potential Naming Opportunities
Endowed funds are designed to provide perpetual support to a designated area. To establish a named endowed fund, a gift must meet the funding minimum set by the Board of Trustees. For current University named endowed fund minimums, contact the Office of the Senior Vice President/Vice President for University Advancement.
In certain circumstances, current-use commitments can qualify for a naming opportunity. Many gifts to name physical entities are in this category.
IV. Standard Designations for Naming Gifts
A. Physical Entities
- Buildings and other major facilities, discrete components of buildings (wings, lecture halls, auditoriums, foyers, classrooms, laboratories, studios, offices, conference rooms, etc.), athletic facilities, and residence halls.
- Campus grounds, outdoor renovations, gardens, quads, athletic fields, walkways, parking facilities, and other real property.
- Libraries, or parts of libraries, and other collections of significant size and continuing educational, scientific, historic, artistic, or cultural value.
B. Non-Physical Entities
- Colleges, schools, departments, institutes, centers, programs, teaching awards, lecture series, and prizes.
- Academic or non-academic positions, including but not limited to deanships, professorships, directorships, and lectureships.
- Student support, including but not limited to scholarships, fellowships, and other student awards and prizes.
V. Naming Gift Values
A. Endowed Funds
The Senior Vice President/Vice President for University Advancement establishes the minimum gift amount required to create each type of named endowed fund in consultation with the University President and the Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer. Such minimums are important to ensure the endowed fund provides sufficient funds to accomplish the purpose intended by the donor.
Minimum gift amounts for named endowed funds will be amended from time to time, to correspond with real costs.
For current University named endowed fund minimums, contact the Office of the Senior Vice President/Vice President for University Advancement.
B. Current-use Funds
In general, named current-use funds adhere to the same fund minimums required to create named endowed funds. Exceptions to this standard can be granted by the Senior Vice President/Vice President for University Advancement, in consultation with the President as needed.
C. Physical Entities
Once a new building, expansion, or renovation has been approved by the University, the value of associated naming gifts will be determined by University Advancement, in consultation with the President. This applies to spaces both within and outside buildings.
Similarly, the value of associated naming gifts for existing University spaces will be determined by University Advancement, in consultation with the President.
VI. Naming Approval and Timing of Naming Activation
The Senior Vice President/Vice President for University Advancement manages the naming approval process, in consultation with the President as appropriate. Name approval may not be granted until the proposed name is known. If the donor does not wish to select the name to be applied when the gift is made, the University may accept the gift, with the name determined later, subject to the terms of approval outlined in this policy.
For binding, irrevocable gifts, a name may go into effect before the gift is paid in full, at the discretion of the Senior Vice President/Vice President for University Advancement, in consultation with necessary University parties.
For non-binding, revocable gifts, a name will not be activated until the gift is received.
VII. Duration of Naming
Naming is generally granted for the useful life of the entity unless otherwise specified in the gift agreement (and subject to the terms of revocation as set forth in this policy).
For current-use gifts, naming terms, including duration, shall be set forth in writing by the University and donor.
If circumstances change so that the purpose for which the named entity was established is or needs to be significantly altered, is no longer needed/ceases to exist, or if a physical entity is replaced, significantly renovated or no longer habitable, the University will consult with the donor if possible, or the donor’s estate, if practicable, to determine an appropriate way to recognize the original naming gift.
VIII. Revocation of Naming
The University may revoke a naming if any of the following conditions occurs:
- The pledge obligation is unfulfilled and/or written off (if partial funding was received that is sufficient for an alternative naming opportunity, the terms of this policy shall govern any renegotiation for a suitable naming).
- The University determines that its association with the donor will materially damage the reputation of the University.
- A change in family or organizational circumstances causes the donor or other affected individual(s)/organization(s) to request a name change or revocation.
- Revocation decisions shall be made by the President based on the recommendation of the Vice President for University Advancement. The President will determine whether the Board of Trustees should be consulted.
The University shall make all reasonable efforts to inform the original donor or the donor’s heirs or designees in advance of any proposed revocation or change being made in accordance with current University policy.
IX. Donor Recognition
The University places great value on recognizing and showing appreciation to donors for their generosity. Therefore, in addition to providing naming rights for eligible gifts, other methods of recognition may be applied, such as those outlined below. It is highly important that recognition be equitable and consistent based on gift type, amount, and designation, and that it adhere to established University standards. All donor recognition strategy and implementation is led and managed by the Office of University Advancement.
A. Physical Recognition
Gifts to name a physical entity or college, school, department, center, or institute will typically be recognized via signage, plaques, displays, or other physical installations.
B. Other Recognition
Naming gift donors may also be recognized via other means (e.g., events and media announcements), corresponding with the type, amount, and purpose of the gift.
X. Special Circumstances and Exceptions
Any special circumstances or requests for exceptions to the requirements and standards set forth in this policy must be referred to the Vice President for University Advancement, who will determine the course of action, which may include consultation with the President.
Policy on Named Endowment Funds
Approved by the Board of Trustees on April 27, 2023
Persons interested in establishing a named endowment fund should consult with a representative of the Advancement Office to assure that the donor’s intentions are appropriately established and that the proposed gift is consistent with the mission, purposes and priorities of Shenandoah University.
Gifts to endowment may be used to establish a named endowment fund or may be added to an existing endowment fund. There is no minimum gift amount to add to an existing endowment fund.
Newly created endowed funds should meet the minimum funding requirements within a 5-year period unless specific arrangements are made with the Advancement Office. The minimum amount for establishing a new named endowment will be $50,000.
An Endowment Fund Agreement will be written for each named endowment to define the donor’s criteria for awarding the endowment earnings, outline the University’s general endowment spending policy and establish guidelines for modifying the fund. The agreement will be reviewed and then signed by the donor and the appropriate University representative. Copies will be kept in the Advancement Office and the Business Office.
Shenandoah reserves the right to review the minimum funding requirements for named endowments periodically and to amend the minimum funding requirements so as to ensure that endowment proceeds are sufficient to fund the endowment’s stated purposes.
Should Shenandoah increase the minimum funding requirement to establish a named endowment, such action shall not apply retroactively to existing endowment funds.
An endowment gift in an amount less than that required to establish a named endowment fund will be held in the operating account of the university and will not be managed as part of Shenandoah’s endowment fund. If the donor or any other person or entity subsequently makes further additions to the fund, sufficient to meet the stated minimum funding requirement for establishing a named endowment fund, an endowment fund will be created on the books of Shenandoah and the total principal amount (and subsequent earnings on that principal) will be allocated to and become a part of this endowment fund. As a general rule, if the stated minimum funding requirement is not met within five years any accumulated funds will be used at the discretion of the President in consultation with the donor.
The most common and customary uses of endowment funds. Funding levels will fluctuate based on the program and economic conditions.:
Schools and Programs
Naming a school is a substantial investment and one of the most honorable and visionary partnerships to be formed between a donor and an institution of higher education. Ideally, the income from the named school endowment will generate 25% of the funds needed to operate the school or program.
Named endowed scholarships begin at $50,000
Deanship $2,000,000 minimum to support position and research
Endowed Chair $1,000,000 minimum to support position and research
Professorship $750,000 minimum to support position