Gift Acceptance Policy

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University Policy Number 1123


Responsible Office:

Policy Procedure:

Related Law & Policy:

I. Scope

This Policy covers the transmission, acceptance, disposition, and management of Gifts (as later defined) made for the benefit of George Mason University (the “University”). This policy applies to all University offices.  This policy does not apply to grants, which are governed in part by Policy 4008, Private Sector Funding for George Mason University, and Policy 4006, Sponsored Programs Administration.


II. Policy Statement

A. Tax Status

  1. George Mason University is a public institution of higher education of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The University is an organization described in Internal Revenue Code section 170.  The George Mason University Foundation, Inc. (the Foundation), is a Virginia nonstock corporation organized and operated exclusively to receive, manage, invest, and administer private gifts and property and to make expenditures to or for the benefit of the University. The Foundation is an organization described in Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) and is classified as a publicly supported organization under Internal Revenue Code sections 509(a)(l) and l 70(b)(l)(A)(iv).

B. Receipt of Gifts by Departments

  1. Collection of Gifts from donors directly by a University department is strongly discouraged. In the event that a donor makes a Gift directly to a University department, the department administrator must contact the Office of University Advancement and Alumni Relations immediately for instructions.

C. Gift Acceptance

  1. The University is obligated to use Gifts in a manner consistent with the stated intentions of the donor. Because the University must comply with donor restrictions, only Gifts that are consistent with federal and state laws, are consistent with the University’s values and policies, and are supportive of the University’s mission, may be accepted.
  2. The University shall not accept any Gift that:

a. interferes with or influences the University’s academic freedom or its capacity to fully control the management, operations, and direction of its affairs, including admission procedures, faculty selection and promotion, academic programs, and their integrity;

b. contains restrictions that unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, citizenship, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital or partnership status, military status, or disability;

c. presumes or requires a particular result or conclusion of scholarly work;

d. impedes the free inquiry and scholarly activity of a faculty member, fellowship holder, or student;

e. is offered for purposes inconsistent with the University’s missions of education, research, and service;

f. affords the donor influence over the continued employment of specific personnel; or

g. impairs the University’s ability to define and pursue its mission, requires illegal or unethical acts, hinders governance or administration, or compromises the University’s accreditation.

  1. The Gift Acceptance Committee shall be composed of the following persons:

a. The two faculty representatives to the Board of Visitors Development Committee, who are elected by the General Faculty in accordance with the Board of Visitors bylaws;

b. Faculty Senate Chair

c. One Academic Dean Representative Appointed by the Provost

d. Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Relations

e. Deputy Vice President, Advancement and Alumni Relations

f. Associate Vice President, Advancement Relations

g. Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance

h. Provost and Executive Vice President

  1. Although the Foundation controls the acceptance of gifts to it, the University understands that the Foundation normally chooses to accept gifts that the University has determined to be in furtherance of the mission of the University. Accordingly, the Gift Acceptance Committee shall review and approve Gifts as provided in Section C.5. before the completion of a gift to the Foundation.
  2. The following types of Gifts may only be accepted by the University after review and approval by the University’s Gift Acceptance Committee:

a. Gifts of $250,000 or more, which are subject to any conditions or restrictions (excluding established programs and faculty research grants);

b. Gifts of real estate;

c. Gifts that would be paid over a period greater than five years;

d. Gifts that would be paid with assets other than cash or readily marketable securities (except for planned gifts);

e. Gifts that will draw significant public attention, or have significant reputational implications for the University;

f. Gifts from international entities not already known to or affiliated with the University;

g. Gifts that would permit use of the University logo or other trademark by the donor or a third party;

h. Gifts that may have real or apparent conflicts of interest for the donor or University officers or employees;

i. Gifts that are specifically related to the appointment or retention of a specific individual;

j. Gifts that potentially create significant immediate or future financial or administrative burdens;

k. Gifts associated with naming opportunities recognizing current or former heads of state or public officials, government entities, corporations, or individuals;

l. Gifts endowing faculty positions at a lower amount than the threshold established for each school; or

m. Gifts requiring donor oversight or advisory committees. If such a committee is created, the University should appoint the majority of the members, and any donor designees should be limited to a nonvoting role on any mater related to academic governance.

  1. The determination of whether a Gift must be reviewed by the Gift Acceptance Committee shall be based on a gift acceptance procedure using the criteria defined in Section III.C.5.
  1. Gifts to the University that may expose the University to liability or that obligate the University shall also be reviewed by the Office of University Counsel.

D. Public access to Gift information

  1. When the Foundation accepts a gift subject to conditions that govern the use of those funds by the University, the University shall provide the Foundation with a writing specifying the University’s acceptance of those conditions prior to transfer of any funds from the Foundation to the University. Such writing will become a part of the minutes of the Gift Acceptance Committee and, therefore, will become a public record of the University under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.
  1. In general, the University will afford donors the privacy protections permitted by the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.
  1. Gifts may be made anonymously, but for Gifts of $100,000 or more, the President, Provost, and Vice President for University Advancement and Alumni Relations must be aware of the donor’s identity and agree that the University will accept the Gift on condition of anonymity.

E. Administration of Gifts

  1. The University’s administration of Gifts must comply with all relevant federal and state regulations.
  1. The financial management of Gifts should follow the guidelines set forth in the University’s Financial Policies.
  1. The Office of University Advancement and Alumni Relations is responsible for ensuring that the University is in compliance with applicable laws pertaining to the receipt and management of Gifts and that it honors its fiduciary responsibility to donors. It is the duty of each department or school to use Gifts in accordance with the donor’s intentions as agreed by the University.
  1. In the case of funds subject to a gift agreement with the Foundation, if it becomes impossible or inadvisable for the funds associated with a Gift to continue to be used for the specific purpose for which given, the University shall contact the donor, or notify the Foundation so that the Foundation may contact the donor, to discuss an alternate application of the funds. If the donor cannot be contacted, the University, subject to the terms of any applicable gift instrument(s) and applicable law, will determine appropriate uses of the funds, or work with the Foundation to do so, in consultation with the University’s President, Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance, and Provost and Executive Vice President.
  1. Exceptions to this policy must be approved by the President.


III. Definitions

Bequest – A gift of real or personal property made at death by a will or a trust.

Gift – A voluntary transfer of property made without consideration, which may or may not be restricted as to its use.  The term “Gift” as used in this Policy includes both transfers of funds or property made by a donor directly to the University; as well as restricted and unrestricted funds transferred by the Foundation to the University.

Grant – An agreement representing the transfer of money, property, or services by a sponsor in exchange for specified services or activities (e.g. research and development). Grants are enforceable by law, and performance is typically accomplished with set time parameters with payment subject to being revoked for cause.

Cash – Money, currency, checks, money orders or cash equivalents.

Securities – Stocks, bonds, options, warrants, notes, or similar instruments, either publicly traded on an exchange (public) or not publicly traded (private).

Gift-in-kind – A gift that is a tangible item, for example, a work of art, equipment, or a literary collection.

Internal Revenue Code (IRC) – 26 U.S.C.S. §1 et seq.


IV. Responsibilities 

A. Department Administration –

Collect and process Gifts in accordance with University procedures, and as defined in Section II.B.1.

B. Office of University Advancement and Alumni Relations –

Responsible for overseeing University compliance with laws pertaining to the management of charitable gifts and confirming that the University honors its fiduciary responsibility to donors. Performs quality assurance reviews to ensure that Gifts are assigned to correct accounts.

C. Vice President, University Advancement and Alumni Relations –

Has general oversight of Gifts accepted by the University.


V. Forms 



VI. Dates

A. Effective Date:

This policy will become effective upon the date of approval by the Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance and the Provost and Executive Vice President.

B. Date of Most Recent Review:


VII. Timetable for Review

This policy, and any related procedures, shall be reviewed every three years or more frequently as needed.


VIII. Signature


Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance

Provost and Executive Vice President


Originally Approved May 8, 2008;

Revised and Approved December 1, 2010;

Revised and Approved March 2, 2017;

Revised and Approved June 6, 2019