Approved by: The President
History: Issued              -- November 28, 2006
Revised            -- April 6, 2017
Last Reviewed --
Related Policies: Conflict of Interest Policy for Staff and Faculty; Gifts and Donations to External Parties Policy; Property Administration Policy; Sponsored Award Management Policy
Additional References: Campaign Counting Guidelines; Gift/Pledge Information Form
Responsible Official:

Vice President for Institutional Advancement tel. (202) 319-6911


I. Policy Purpose

This policy is designed to provide guidance to management, employees and board members of The Catholic University of America involved in accepting gifts; to outside advisors who assist in the gift planning process; and to prospective donors who wish to make gifts to the University. This policy enables the University to accept gifts from individuals, corporations, charitable foundations, and governmental or other public sector entities in a manner that supports the purposes and activities of the University and are consistent with its teaching, research and administrative goals and with its mission as the national university of The Catholic Church in the United States, and permits consistency and transparency in documenting and honoring donor intent.

II. Policy Overview

The Division of University Advancement is organized to support the solicitation, receipt and stewardship of charitable contributions for the benefit of the University. University Advancement provides executive leadership and operations infrastructure for the advancement offices within each school and entity within the University. University Advancement shall also ensure that all fundraising activities for the University, including: department-specific fundraising, fundraising by boards, as well as volunteer boards and committees and such other similar entities or organizations that may be created in the future, are coordinated with, and support the fund raising activities of University Advancement for the benefit of the University. University Advancement is responsible for organizing, coordinating, and/or managing all private and public sector fund raising activities which involve individuals, private organizations, and corporations, including fundraising events.

The following policy is set forth:

  1. to define charitable contributions;
  2. to establish the rules for the acceptance, management and stewardship of charitable contributions to the University;
  3. to inform donors and prospective donors;
  4. to ensure the University's adherence to donor intent; and
  5. to protect the University, its Boards of Trustees, staff, and volunteers from inappropriate or undesirable charitable contributions.

The University shall accept all charitable contributions, provided such gifts are in conformity with this Gift Acceptance Policy and with the University's mission. All gifts will be recorded in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).


III. Definitions

A. 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. 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 grant.

B. Sponsored Award means a grant, contract or other method of funding provided to the University by an external entity (typically the federal government) and for which there are actual or implied conditions or expectations that the University must meet. Such conditions and expectations often include, but are not limited to:

  • sponsor control of the scope of the project;
  • a cooperative agreement (exchange transaction);
  • technical, financial, or progress reporting;
  • a cost sharing component;
  • recoveries for facilities and administrative (i.e. indirect) costs;
  • and/or re-granting or subcontracting of some of the funds to other entities.

Sponsored Awards usually involve activities such as research, teaching/training, or the provision of services by University personnel to other entities predominantly or completely for the benefit of those entities.

C. Real or Personal 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 (i.e., acreage).

D. Tangible Personal Property includes, but is not limited to antiques, art, artifacts, equipment, jewelry or gemstones, musical instruments, and valuable or rare books and manuscripts.

E. Other Assets include, but are not limited to, promissory notes, assignment of promissory notes, partnership interests, and restricted or non-publicly traded securities.

IV. Gift Acceptance Conditions


The University will only accept gifts that are consistent with its core values and that:

  • Are compatible with the mission of the University and its individual schools and programs;
  • Do not jeopardize the University's tax-exempt status;
  • Are consistent with University's Code of Conduct; and,
  • Are in compliance with the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, and other federal statutes, regulations, rulings, or court decisions that stipulate the conditions under which contributions can be tax favored.

Any deviations from standard gifts require the approval by the Vice President of University Advancement. A standard gift includes giving through an annual fund, Archdiocesan Collection, membership, special event and planned gift utilizing a University's standard gift agreements. Questions regarding the acceptability of a specific, non-standard gift will be resolved as a result of collaborative discussion between University Advancement Staff and the University Finance Office and, when necessary, the Office of General Counsel and other University officials as deemed necessary based on the nature of the gift.

The University recognizes that some gifts may not be acceptable. The University's President and/or his/her designee reserve the right to accept or to decline any proposed commitment.

V. General Policies and Guidelines for the Acceptance of Charitable Contributions


The University welcomes expressions of interest and financial support that are consistent with the University's mission, 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.

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, options for payment, estate planning, tax planning consequences of a possible gift commitment, and appropriate stewardship and recognition for the gift so as to provide every possible assistance to a prospective donor.

Although University Advancement staff will provide all appropriate assistance, the ultimate responsibility regarding asset valuations, tax deductibility, and/or similar federal, state and/or local legal compliance issues rests with the donor(s) and/or 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.

The University will not knowingly seek, nor accept any commitment regardless of size, designation or other condition, which it believes not to be in the potential donor's best interest.


VI. Charitable Gift Types

Acceptable charitable contributions may include the following:

  1. Cash;
  2. Capital assets;
  3. Multi-year written pledges;
  4. 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);
  5. Tangible assets (the University reserves the right to limit gifts of property to those gifts that will be of benefit to the University);
  6. Appreciated securities or other investment instruments;
  7. Deferred or planned gifts including, but not limited to:
  1. Gifts-in-kind
  2. Trusts
  3. Annuities
  4. Insurance Policies
  5. Gifts of residence with a retained life interest
  6. Bequest intentions

The following items are not considered a charitable contribution:

  1. Gifts of services are not tax-deductible for donors (IRS pub. 526) and so, the University does not generally accept gifts of services.
  2. Inter-company transfers between the University entities will not be recorded as philanthropic commitments and will not be included in fundraising totals.
  3. Gifts from University employees, faculty and University-affiliated constituents (e.g. contracted personnel or vendor representatives located in University entities) or their immediate family members that are credited to any account that is directly or indirectly controlled by the donor. Indirect control occurs when the donor has a supervisory relationship over the individual controlling the account. Unrestricted gifts from the aforementioned donors, or gifts designated to accounts that are not directly or indirectly controlled by the donor are permitted as charitable contributions.


VII. Gift vs. Sponsored Award Determination

Gifts and Sponsored Awards are subject to different accounting, oversight and reporting requirements. To comply with these requirements, the determination of whether a transfer or payment is a Gift or a Sponsored Award will be made by the University Controller in consultation with the Associate Provost for Research and the Division of University Advancement, using the Gift vs. Sponsored Project Determination Process and Indicator Checklist.


VIII. Solicitation, Processing, and Acknowledgement Requirements

All gifts to the University should be directed to the University Advancement Office. University Advancement will accept, deposit, receipt, and acknowledge all contributions in accordance with IRS policies and the documented wishes of the donor. The University's policy is that gifts will be deposited, recorded in a dedicated database and receipted as expeditiously as possible. University Advancement will record the gift in the Advancement Database and will specifically record: the donor's name, the purpose of the contribution (as specified by the donor, not the University), the amount, the date, pay-out schedule for pledges as appropriate, and any other pertinent information. University Advancement will ensure safe and appropriate deposit of cash gifts into a University account and will provide detailed records of all gift transactions to the University Finance Office. University Advancement will collaborate with the University Finance Office to regularly reconcile daily receipts.

University Advancement stewardship staff will coordinate appropriate acknowledgment to the donor in the form of thank you letter(s) and phone calls, consistent with industry best practice. University Advancement staff will coordinate timely and regular stewardship of gifts by working collaboratively with the donor and University program staff, faculty and University Leadership.

All solicitations and acceptance of donations or gifts of funds or property must be coordinated through University Advancement to ensure consistency with the University's strategic direction and philanthropic goals. This applies to donations or gifts from governmental or other public sector entities as well as private entities.

Requests by donors for anonymity will be honored. Details of the gift will be recorded in the database, and the anonymous indicator will be applied.

In instances where a contribution exceeds $75 and there is a quid pro quo (something of value provided to the donor in return), the donor will be provided a written statement informing them that their charitable contribution is limited to the amount given in excess of the value of the goods or services furnished in return. A good faith estimate of the fair market value of the goods or services will be stated.

For the purpose of current income tax deductions such gifts will be receipted at the charitable deduction value as established by law and the donor shall be so informed.

The University accepts gifts subject to policies in place at the time the gift is made. Gifts will be recorded as unrestricted, permanently restricted or temporarily restricted (by purpose and/or time) as directed and documented by the donor. In the event the donor does not indicate a restriction, the gift will be recorded as unrestricted.

Unanticipated estate gifts and bequests that are received by the University without a specific donor designation will be reviewed on an individual basis by the Vice President for Advancement, the Vice President for Finance and Treasurer, and the Provost. The goal of the discussion will be to determine to use of the gift which may include use for a prioritized project or investment in the University's quasi-endowment and held in accordance with the University's endowment policy. The utilization of the income from the quasi-endowment will be at the Provost's discretion.


IX. Administration of Gifts

Where and when appropriate, Donor-Restricted Funds will be established by the University Finance Office based on donor documentation transmitted by Advancement to hold and manage temporarily restricted and permanently restricted gifts in accordance with donors' wishes.

Both the donor and the University expect that restricted funds, (both term gifts and endowment income), will be spent for the intended purpose. Financial oversight and stewardship are the primary responsibility of recipient department personnel. Department administrators should establish strategies to ensure that funds are utilized. Gifts must be used in a manner consistent with the stated intentions of the donor and transactions recorded in Donor-Restricted Funds must conform to the terms set forth in the supporting documentation. In addition, transactions must comply with University financial and other relevant policies. It is expected that those authorizing a donor-restricted fund transaction should have knowledge of the fund's restrictions, the department's budget, and the University finance policies and procedures.


X. Gift Disposition

The University generally seeks to liquidate gifts of real property, as well as gifts of tangible or intangible personal property as soon as possible to avoid carrying costs and extensive liquidation expenses.

Gifts shall be valued on the date the assets are received by the University or its broker. Gifts of stock will be recorded as of the "date cleared" the University broker. The average of the high and low will be used to value the gift.

Donated tangible personal property, real property and other assets will be sold unless the donated property directly contributes to the University's central mission. Absent explicit donor restrictions, income from the sale is credited to the unrestricted or endowment funds of the University.