Soliciting & Administering Private Gift Support


This memorandum describes the policies and procedures that will enable a priority-based, well-coordinated strategy for soliciting gifts for university programs from alumni, friends of the university, foundations, corporations and other donors.

Everyone in the campus community contributes to successful fundraising by contributing to the institution's spirit and quality, and many by serving as active partners in donor relationships. Faculty, staff and student partners have always been critical to fundraising success at Puget Sound.

Fundraising demands good teamwork and coordination. In order to foster our donors' continued good will and financial support, and to plan and manage our finances effectively, it is extremely important that all concerned parties-faculty, department chairs, development officers, and heads of administrative offices-understand and follow the same policies and procedures both in seeking gifts and in administering them once they have been received. These basic policies and procedures are outlined below.

Fundraising Priorities

Based on the recommendations of the appropriate vice president or dean, and after consultation with the Vice President for University Relations, the President will determine or approve fundraising priorities and will convey them to the Director of Development for action by development officers and their faculty and staff partners. For example, any fundraising related to academic areas must first be discussed with the Academic Vice President and any related to student affairs with the Dean of Students.

We also recognize that many opportunities arise unexpectedly, e.g., that a potential donor or gift opportunity may surface at any time. In fact, many excellent matches of donors to projects would never have occurred without faculty and staff members' contacts, referrals and ideas. While the priorities identified in advance will guide the majority of development activity and will take precedence in proposals to donors with multiple interests, new ideas are always welcomed when the following procedures are followed.

Approval to Seek Gifts

In general, the university seeks gifts (1) to provide unrestricted support for ongoing programs, (2) to support financial aid, (3) to provide restricted support for activities in which we will continue to be engaged, (4) to provide restricted support for enhancements of existing programs or new initiatives which are central to our mission, and (5) to provide support for building projects approved by the Cabinet and Trustees.

The university's highest priority is to encourage gifts for ongoing and planned programs and projects. Only after very careful review will approval be given to seek gifts for new initiatives and enhancements.

Approval to begin cultivating contributions from private sources (i.e., alumni, parents, friends, foundations and corporations) for any purpose should first be obtained from the appropriate vice president or dean, who in turn will discuss the proposed fundraising initiative with members of the Cabinet and other concerned parties. This will ensure that all who are involved understand the proposal's implications before it is recommended to the President for approval.

Please do not begin discussion with staff members of the Development Office or potential donors before getting clearance from the appropriate vice president or dean. (Those interested in proposing a fundraising initiative may contact either the Academic Vice President or the other senior staff member to whom they report.)

Once a fundraising proposal is approved, the Academic Vice President will decide what priority to assign it in relation to other fundraising projects. The priority assigned will determine the level of effort expected from the development staff.

Criteria for Approval and Priority-setting

We will use the following criteria in making decisions on approval and priority rank:

  • Academic Justification. Will the proposal significantly strengthen pursuit of our academic mission?
  • Budgetary Impact. Would the gift support offset existing demands on the current operating budget? Would the proposal impose immediate financial demands on the university? Would the proposal place future financial obligations on the university once the gift or grant funds have expired?
  • Fundraising Potential. How many prospective donors are likely to take an interest in the proposal? To what extent would it compete with other fundraising initiatives? What level of effort would be required from the Development Office to secure the gift(s)?

Communication with Potential Donors

Even after a fundraising proposal has received initial approval, all contacts with donors must be coordinated through the Development Office. One of the strongest features of the fundraising program at Puget Sound is the close association that many alumni maintain throughout their lives with the members of the faculty and staff. While these contacts provide good opportunities to encourage alumni support, clearance from the Development Office to approach a potential donor for an approved project is essential.

After fundraising plans for specific projects or general institutional needs (i.e., financial aid) are approved, the Development Office will be responsible for identifying and coordinating solicitation of prospects. In many cases, development officers will enlist and coordinate the participation of alumni and faculty volunteers in these efforts.

Gift Receipts and Accounting

The President has final authority to accept all gifts, and will do so on the recommendation of the Academic Vice President in consultation with members of the Cabinet.

Any individual or department receiving any gift from a donor should inform the Development Office and send any checks, gift documentation, pledge statements, etc. to that office. The Development Office will record gifts, forward them to the Controller's Office, thank donors, and inform the appropriate senior staff members.

The Controller's Office will ensure that all legal and fiduciary requirements are met in accepting and administering the gift. A monthly expenditure report will be sent to the account manager.

Accountability and Reports

Managers of gift funds or accounts must expend those funds as described in the gift agreement and in a timely manner. Account managers may also be asked to write reports to donors detailing the way gift funds have been used. These minimum steps are essential to maintain good relationships with donors and to encourage future support.

The Development Office, working with the Academic Vice President's Office, departments, and account managers, will monitor the reporting process and ensure that timely reports are sent to donors about the use of their gifts. Full cooperation by everyone involved ensures the success of our development and donor stewardship programs.


We can attribute many of the university's fundraising achievements to the participation and support of members of the faculty and staff. We hope that the policies outlined above will clarify the fundraising process for the campus community and will help us to continue building donors' support and good will.

Note: This document refers to gifts, including grants from private foundations, not to federal or state research grants. In general, a gift is irrevocable; carries no contractual requirements (although objectives may be stated); specifies no period of performance; and requires no formal financial reporting. Alternatively, a grant often carries terms on the use of funds; requires formal financial accounting; and allows the sponsor to request a return of unexpended funds or withhold funds pending satisfactory completion of project objectives.

Origination Date: 11/1995

Owners: Office of the Academic Vice President and The Vice President for University Relations
Contact: Academic Vice President and The Vice President for University Relations