University of Minnesota  Administrative Policy

Accepting and Managing Gifts

Policy Statement

The University of Minnesota Foundation (UMF) and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Foundation (MLAF) (collectively the “Foundations”) are the Board of Regents designated foundations for gifts made to the University of Minnesota (the “University”). 

All gifts to the Foundations are subject to and administered in accordance with the provisions of the Foundations’ governing documents that relate to gift acceptance and administration. The University departments and recognized University Foundations shall exercise appropriate oversight to ensure that donor funds are managed and used in accordance with donor intent, as documented in the fund purpose. Supporting documentation and records must sufficiently demonstrate expenditures in accordance with donor fund purposes.

Soliciting Gifts

To ensure the most effective use of resources in seeking private support for the University, fundraising efforts must be coordinated through one of the recognized Foundations or a University development office in collaboration with University leadership. This will avoid duplication of effort, over-solicitation, and ensure compliance with University policies.

The Foundations follow gift guidelines as established by the Council for Support and Advancement of Education (CASE). When dealing with grants or sponsorships, the donor may have a charitable intent, but the terms of the grant or sponsorship may make it ineligible for the appropriate Foundation to accept and issue a charitable gift receipt. For grants, please consult the Gift, Grant or External Sales Classification Group as noted in the contact section of this policy. For sponsorships, please consult the Administrative Policy: Classifying and Recording Sponsorships for University-Hosted Events/Activities.

The Charitable Grant Resource Portal at should be used for assistance in finding charitable grant funding and when using UMF’s or MLAF's 501(c)(3) status to apply for any charitable grant. Central coordination of charitable grant proposals is required by many corporate and philanthropic organizations as some restrict the number of submissions from any one organization or may restrict the number of total submissions during a given time period. Reference the “Managed Foundations” list in the portal for assistance in applying to centrally coordinated organizations.

Many states require registration prior to soliciting donations. The Foundations will ensure that they are in compliance with all state registration laws.

Acceptance of Gifts

The appropriate Foundation must approve all gifts given to the respective foundation. The designated Foundations are authorized to accept and record all liquid gifts (cash and other assets easily convertible to cash such as publicly traded stocks, cryptocurrency, etc.) utilizing development officers in departments, colleges, and the Foundations. Illiquid, complex gifts require special scrutiny and consideration before the Foundations will approve and accept such gifts. In addition, all complex gifts must go through the appropriate Foundation for review and approval. Gifts of real estate made to the University must be approved by the University’s Real Estate Office in addition to the appropriate Foundation. The Board of Regents may require further approval, for example for specific naming opportunities. The University and the Foundations will NOT accept:

  • Gifts that are inconsistent with the mission and values of the Foundations or the University.
  • Gifts that obligate them to break the law or other University policies.
  • Gifts that conflict with federal and state tax regulations.
  • Gifts that are directed to a specific faculty member, staff member, or student.
  • Gifts with terms that inhibit the Foundations or University from seeking other gifts.
  • Gifts that expose the University to certain potential liabilities or risk (e.g. environmental, reputational).
  • Gifts that are incomplete or include a reserved interest by the donor other than those expressly provided for under IRS regulations.
  • Gifts inconsistent with the University's policy on Equity, Diversity, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.

Contact the respective Foundations for additional lists of gifts that will not be accepted.

On occasion, donors may desire to give in-kind gifts to the University for use in its work or collections. Such gifts are reviewed for acceptance by the appropriate Foundation and received directly by the University. In other instances, donors may desire to give in-kind gifts to the appropriate Foundation to be immediately liquidated, with the proceeds directed to a fund at the respective Foundation for the benefit of the University. The Foundation will accept and liquidate such gifts and acknowledge the donor accordingly. 

The University will sell or otherwise dispose of all gifts or personal property, unless the items can be used by the University in a manner related to the University’s mission. This is communicated in writing at the time of accepting such a gift from a donor as it is an unrelated use and may reduce the charitable contribution deduction for the donor.

Gifts of services or use of space are not considered charitable contributions for tax purposes nor gifts for gift credit purposes. 

Expending Gift Funds

The Foundations and University departments are responsible, during their period of stewardship and transfer, for ensuring that gifts are spent in accordance with donor intent and in compliance with University policies and procedures. The respective Foundation will review requests for disbursements from donor funds to ensure the use of funds complies with the donor gift purpose. 

Once gift funds have been transferred to the University and recorded in the related University Enterprise Financial System (EFS) ChartField String, the University assumes the responsibility for the following:

  • using the gift in accordance with donor intent;
  • complying with associated University policies and procedures; 
  • complying with tax reporting requirements; 
  • providing sufficient detail and reference on authorizing documents to permit a compliance review (i.e., the University, the Foundations, the donor); and
  • ensuring sufficient documentation exists to verify the funds were expended in accordance with donor intent.

 See the Procedure: Managing and Expending Foundation Funds.

Monitoring Gift Funds

Consistent with good stewardship, chancellors, deans, department heads, and center directors must plan and account for Foundation funds transferred into their campus, college, departments, or programs, expend those funds in accordance with donor intent, and provide the Foundations with necessary documents regarding fund use as requested.

University of Minnesota Office of Internal Audit also monitors the use of gift funds in compliance with the respective Memorandum of Understanding in effect between the University and the Foundations. The scope of the reviews and extent of testing is mutually agreed upon in advance by the appropriate Foundations and is reported to the Board of Regents’ Audit and Compliance Committee as part of the Office of Internal Audit’s audit plan.

Donor Intent Incapable of Being Fulfilled

Occasionally, the original purpose requested by the donor is no longer capable of being fulfilled, for a variety of reasons. All gifts given to the Foundations are subject to the State Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA) guidelines for repurposing when the original donor intent is no longer capable of being fulfilled. The process for such repurposing will depend on how and when the gift was received by the Foundation. For further information about fund repurposing, contact the appropriate Accounting contact listed below.

Donor Recognition

Appropriate recognition in any donor recognition group may be extended to donors, unless declined in writing by a donor. Any such recognition will be at the Foundations’ and University’s discretion and subject to University policy or guidelines. 

Donor Confidentiality

The University and Foundations may share news of a gift with press releases, publications, websites, and other media sources, or will otherwise publicly acknowledge a donor by name. Donors who wish their gifts to be anonymous or do not want any such recognition must notify the University or Foundations in writing and all such donor records will be kept confidential to the extent allowed by law. 

Donor Obligations

Neither the University nor the Foundations will provide legal or tax advice, nor financial planning services to donors. Donors are encouraged to seek such advice from their own counsel and professional consultants so that they are fully aware of all potential advantages or disadvantages of any particular gift as well as any documentation or reporting obligations that may be required of the donor (e.g., qualified appraisal or IRS Form 8283).

Reason for Policy

To implement Board of Regents Policy: Gift Solicitation and Acceptance (PDF).

To ensure gift acceptance by the Foundations is consistent with the respective Memorandum of Understanding between each Foundation and the University.

To provide the University and Foundations with the tools necessary to ensure:

  • the gifts accepted are consistent with University policies and mission;
  • the Foundations and University comply with federal and state tax laws;  
  • the Foundations comply with state solicitation laws and registration requirements;
  • the highest levels of stewardship are maintained regarding the recording, approval, acknowledgment, and distribution of gifts to the University.

Donative intent must be the primary motive for gift giving with the intention to give something of value for the betterment of the University. Coordinating fundraising efforts helps ensure the most effective use of resources in seeking private support for the University.


Primary Contact
Primary ContactChristine Searson612-625-7194[email protected]
Primary ContactMollie Viola612-625-0126[email protected]
Gift Contacts
University of Minnesota Foundation Gift Administration612-624-3333[email protected]
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum FoundationGift Administration 612-301-1264[email protected]
Development Contacts
University of Minnesota Foundation (College and Campus Programs)Jan Sickbert612-624-3283[email protected]
University of Minnesota Foundation (MHealth, Medical School & Academic Health Centers)Patty Porter612-626-6703[email protected]
University of Minnesota Foundation (Central Development Programs)Patrick Roche612-625-5511[email protected]
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum FoundationSusan Taylor612-301-1266[email protected]
Accounting Contacts
University of MinnesotaController’s Office612-624-1617[email protected]
University of Minnesota FoundationAccounts Payable/EFS Processing612-624-3333[email protected]
University of Minnesota FoundationFund Administration612-624-3333[email protected]
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum FoundationDeanna Flategraff612-301-1271[email protected]
Other Contacts
University of Minnesota Foundation (Corporate and Foundation Relations)University of Minnesota Foundation612-624-3333[email protected]
Gift, Grant or External Sales ClassificationGift, Grant or External Sales Classification Group [email protected]
Tax IssuesTax Management Office612-624-1053[email protected]
Responsible Individuals
Responsible Officer Policy Owner Primary Contact
  • President - University of Minnesota Foundation
  • Controller
  • Vice President of Finance/CFO - University of Minnesota Foundation
  • Controller
  • Christine Searson
    Vice President of Finance/CFO - University of Minnesota Foundation
  • Mollie Viola


Authorized Signer
An authorized signer is an individual who has been granted authority to approve a variety of forms and financial transactions related to the establishment and ongoing management of the Foundations’ donor funds. To ensure effective utilization of the Foundations’ funds, each fund is required to have a minimum of two (2) authorized signers, one of which must be the VP, dean, or chancellor or their designee(s). The authorized signers are responsible for ensuring that all spending is consistent with the funds’ designated purposes. The VP, dean, or chancellor retains authority to make changes to authorized signers on funds within their respective units. 
Donor Intent
The donor’s defined purpose or wishes regarding the use of their charitable donation. Often Donor Agreements are used to document the donor intent. The Foundations are legally obligated to ensure that donor intent is met.
Development Officers
University employees, recognized by the Foundations, who specialize in soliciting, accepting, and/or managing gifts. They work in partnership with University leadership to determine priorities for fundraising and create strategies and opportunities that are in alignment with the vision and mission of the respective unit/department/college/campus. 
Accounts established from gifts or institutional funds by administrative decision. Types of endowments are:
  • True - Must remain permanently intact; principal may not be spent.
  • Quasi-restricted - Principal and income distribution must be spent for designated purpose.
  • Quasi-unrestricted - Principal and income distribution may be spent for any purpose. Typical funding sources include royalties or unrestricted gifts.
  • Term - Remains an endowment for a certain period of time.
  • Life Income Fund - Principal may never be spent. Income distribution is paid to the donor or donor designee, or combination thereof, for the life of the donor or for a fixed period of time. Thereafter, becomes a True endowment.
University of Minnesota Foundation (UMF) and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Foundation (MLAF) 
A contribution made by a donor (individual or organization) for the benefit of the University to be used in accordance with donor intent. Gifts are transfers of money or property (i.e., securities, equipment, land, etc.) for which the donor will not receive a direct economic benefit or any other tangible compensation (i.e., goods or services). Gifts may be in various forms including but not limited to those listed below:
  • Cash Gifts Publicly Traded Securities
    • Stocks
    • Bonds
    • Mutual Funds
  • Planned Gifts - Estate gifts, life income gifts, and other gifts that are typically part of an estate plan and that often provide the donor with tax benefits 
    • Bequests 
    • Gift Annuities 
    • Charitable Remainder and Charitable Lead Trusts 
    • Retained Life Estates
    • Life Insurance
  • Non-Cash Gifts - A gift made using non-monetary assets.
  • Complex gifts - gifts of such a nature that they required additional scrutiny and consideration. The University and Foundations consider the following gifts to be complex gifts:

    • Intangibles
      • Patent Rights
    • Non-publicly traded Securities
    • Certain In-Kind Gifts - gifts of goods and services other than cash.
      • Personal Property
        • Equipment
        • Supplies
      • Collectibles
        • Artwork
        • Antiques
        • Rare Books, Coins, Stamps
      • Closely held stock and other Alternative Investments
    • Real Estate
      • Land
      • Air Rights
      • Mineral Rights
      • Buildings
Consumable Gifts
Gifts that are intended to be used. This includes food donations and other gifts to be distributed to participants or otherwise expended. This also includes the donations of services and unreimbursed volunteer expenses. 
Charitable Grant
A charitable grant is a contribution received by the Foundations for either unrestricted or restricted use by the University, typically from a corporation, foundation, or other organization, and is generally received as the result of a written proposal. The grantor must have no expectation of receiving a direct economic benefit in exchange for a charitable grant but may require a fund usage summary and/or report to be provided at the end of the project. Charitable grants do not normally require a detailed budget to be provided to the grantor, nor should they have detailed terms and conditions governing the expenditure of the granted funds. Terms requiring ownership of intellectual property, or involving work with human or animal subjects, would also be unacceptable charitable grant terms. Grants with these types of requirements are generally sponsored research project grants. For further help in distinguishing between philanthropic grants and sponsored projects see job aid:  Defining Gifts, Sponsored Projects and External Sales (PDF).
In-Kind Gifts
Contributions of goods or services other than cash.
Pledge Commitment
A statement of intent by an individual or organization to give a Foundation a gift over a specified time period.
A payment/stipend or allowance made to aid a student in furthering the academic, research, and/or scholarly education of the individual.
Sponsorships/Sponsorship Package
Opportunities for an entity to monetarily support an event/activity and often include return benefits for the sponsoring entity


Authorized Signer

  • Provide approval for expenditures consistent with the funds’ designated purposes. 
  • Approve the University EFS invoice/bill requesting reimbursement.
  • Review or approve requests for emergency assistance.

Board of Regents

  • Approve recognized foundations.
  • Review and approve a monthly gift activity report of all gifts with a value of $5,000 or more.

College and Campus Development Officers

  • Partner with University and Foundation leadership to develop programs that meet fundraising objectives.
  • Coordinate fundraising efforts with the appropriate Foundation.
  • Identify, cultivate, and solicit prospective donors.
  • Provide ongoing stewardship with donors.

Controller’s Office

  • Centrally review and approve any deposits into or from University endowments, including Permanent University Funds (PUF) matching dollars for alignment with University policies.


  • Serve as the authorized signer for funds within their respective unit. (This responsibility may be delegated.)
  • Make changes to authorized signers on funds within their respective unit.
  • Review, approve, or delegate responsibilities for requests for emergency assistance.
  • Ensure an equitable disbursement process for emergency assistance.


  • Accept gifts for the benefit of the University using established procedures.
  • Keep track of gift sources.
  • Coordinate with SPA on philanthropic grants (aka charitable grants) and proper grant classification.
  • Review, approve, and transfer gift money to University ChartField String(s) in accordance with appropriate procedures.
  • Coordinate fundraising efforts.
  • Process IRS Form 8283 and 8282 for non-cash gifts accepted by the Foundations, in accordance with IRS guidelines. Coordinate the Form 8283 acknowledgement of noncash gifts received by the University with the Tax Management Office.
  • Perform any due diligence necessary for non-cash gifts accepted and received by the Foundation. 

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Foundation

  • Provide UMF with regular information on gifts received to facilitate consolidated gift reporting to the Board of Regents.

Office of Internal Audit

  • Monitor total expenditures and individual transactions for accountability and stewardship in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between the Foundation and the University. (See Board of Regents Policy: Gift Solicitation and Acceptance.)

Real Estate Office

  • Review all gifts of real estate to the University.
  • Obtain environmental analysis of all University real estate gifts.

SPA (Office of Sponsored Projects Administration)

  • Process sponsored contracts and grants to the University using established procedures.
  • Keep track of grant sources.
  • Assist in classification of grants for processing through the Foundations.

Tax Management Office

  • Acknowledge noncash gifts received by the University on Form 8283 for the donor.
  • Prepare and file Form 8282 when gifts are sold within three years of having been received by the University in accordance with IRS rules and regulations.

University Departments or Units

  • Coordinate fundraising efforts with the development officers or appropriate Foundation.
  • Use the gift in accordance with the donor intent.
  • Comply with associated University policies and procedures.
  • Provide sufficient detail and reference on authorizing documents to permit a compliance review (e.g., the University, the Foundations, the donor).
  • Equitably disburse emergency assistance.
  • Initiate invoice to request funds from UMF.

University of Minnesota Foundation (UMF)

  • Report to the Board of Regents all gifts made to recognized Foundations; provide report for individual gifts over $5,000.
  • Establish the policy for accepting gifts to the University.
  • Establish procedures for ensuring that the gifts are allocated to the appropriate University unit and are spent according to donor intent.

University Services, University Relations



August 2022 – Comprehensive Review, Minor revisions including co-ownership assigned between UMF and the Controller’s Office. Updated contacts, eliminated unnecessary definitions, increased clarity around unique gift/donor purposes such as in-kind gifts, charitable grants, and expenditure of emergency funds through a new accompanying procedure.


April 2018 - Comprehensive Review, Minor Revisions. Standardized wording throughout, and eliminated duplicate statements where possible. Integrated the FAQs, the procedures on soliciting and monitoring the gifts into the policy. Eliminated a processing flow chart as it was no longer applicable. And lastly, we updated the policy and procedures to reflect the dissolution of the 4-H Foundation.


September 2013 – Comprehensive Review. Updated procedures to reflect current process. Updated policy and procedures to reflect merger of Minnesota Medical Foundation with the University of Minnesota Foundation. Improved procedures to reflect the current process. Details about types of gifts the University will not accept was added to policy statement. Aligned language with the University's policy style.


November 2006 - Processing Gifts procedure and forms section updated. The print Gift Transmittal form has been superceded by an online gift processing procedure.


August 2003 - Updated Contacts and Forms sections.


June 1999 - Updated Related Information and Forms sections.


June 1997 - Procedure Requesting Checks from the Foundation was revised to include separate procedures for Requesting Checks from the University of Minnesota Foundation, and Requesting Checks from foundations other than the University of Minnesota Foundation.


June 95 - Revision to Gift Form. Currency should be hand delivered to the Foundation Offices.


March 1995 - Added Frequently Asked Questions Section.


September 1994


Accepting Gifts, 6/94