Gift Acceptance Policy
University Policy Number 1123
Categorized: General Policies
- Appendix A: George Mason University Required Endowment and Deferred (Planned) Gift Minimums)
- Appendix B: George Mason University Philanthropic Naming Opportunities
- George Mason University Foundation, Inc. Gift and Other Revenue Financial Procedures
- George Mason University Foundation, Inc. Gift-In-Kind Procedures
- George Mason University Foundation, Inc. Real Estate Review Procedures
- George Mason University Foundation, Inc. Board of Trustees Real Estate Committee Charter
- George Mason University Foundation, Inc. Board of Trustees Investment Committee Charter
Related Law & Policy:
- Virginia Code § 23.1-1301. Governing boards; powers.
- IRS Publication 526 - Charitable Contributions
- The Code of Ethics for George Mason University Foundation, Inc.
- Donor Bill of Rights
- Association of Fundraising Professionals' Code of Ethical Standards
- CASE Reporting Standards and Management Guidelines for Educational Fundraising
- Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) as codified by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)
This policy applies to all philanthropic gift activities of the university and the foundation.
II. Policy Statement
Private philanthropy is a critical component of the university’s success and ability to achieve its mission. This policy serves to advise university and foundation personnel who assist in the gift planning, solicitation and recording processes in order to ensure that gifts are accepted in accordance with university objectives.
A. Principles of Fundraising–All university personnel will act in a professional manner and treat donors with respect. The university subscribes to the principles presented in the Donor Bill of Rights, which was created by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Giving Institute. Advancement staff will abide by the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Code of Ethical Standards. Representatives of the university will use their best judgement to help donors make informed gift decisions.
B. Role of the Foundation–The foundation was established in 1966 to assist the university in generating private support and to manage, invest, and administer private gifts, including endowment and real property. Foundation staff abide by the George Mason University Foundation Code of Ethics in their support of the university.
C. Gift Acceptance Committee
1. Committee Members – The Gift Acceptance Committee is comprised of:
• the president of the foundation and vice president for advancement and alumni relations of the university;
• the university provost;
• the senior vice president for administration and finance of the university;
• the controller of the university;
• the chief financial officer of the foundation;
• the associate vice president of university advancement and alumni relations of the university;
• the associate vice president of advancement and executive campaign director of the university;
• one of the deans currently serving as a representative on the foundation’s Board of Trustees;
• and the faculty member currently serving as a representative on the foundation’s Board of Trustees.
Each committee member will serve a term consistent with his or her tenure in the office or position specified above. The vice president for advancement and alumni relations, who also serves as the president of the foundation, will serve as chair of the Gift Acceptance Committee. The university’s executive director of donor relations and advancement communications will serve as the staff liaison to the committee. The required membership of the Gift Acceptance Committee may change based on current staffing levels with approval from the university’s vice president for advancement and alumni relations. A quorum is defined as a majority of the committee in attendance in person or by telephone.
2. Role of the Committee– The Gift Acceptance Committee is responsible for the implementation of the gift acceptance policy as authorized by the university’s Board of Visitors and its president. The Gift Acceptance Committee will convene periodically to review for acceptance certain non-standard gifts, gifts of real and personal property and gift plans. The majority of gifts received by the foundation are for existing programs, are documented with a customary gift agreement and do not require review and approval of the Gift Acceptance Committee.
IV. Forms of Giving
A. Cash and cash equivalents – All charitable gifts contributed in the form of cash, checks, money orders, electronic fund transfers, and credit or debit card transactions are recorded and acknowledged in accordance with foundation procedures and IRS regulations.
B. Publicly traded securities – Gifts of publicly traded securities are based on the fair market value of the securities on the date of receipt. Publicly traded securities are valued, recorded, receipted and acknowledged in accordance with foundation procedures and IRS regulations. Securities are liquidated as soon as practicable by the foundation’s broker unless otherwise directed by the president of the foundation.
C. Non-liquid business interests – Closely held or restricted securities, sole proprietorships, general or limited partnership interests, S corporation stock, and real estate investment trusts may be accepted as contributions only after review and approval by the Gift Acceptance Committee. Such gifts are valued, recorded, receipted, and acknowledged in accordance with foundation procedures and IRS regulations.
D. Real estate – Gifts of real estate are considered for acceptance on a case-by-case basis. Real estate may be contributed outright, through a bargain sale arrangement, or conveyed through a planned or charitable giving arrangement. The Gift Acceptance Committee will approve or decline a prospective gift of real estate based upon the recommendation of the foundation’s Real Estate Committee. Real estate gifts are valued, recorded, receipted and acknowledged in accordance with foundation procedures and IRS regulations.
E. Tangible personal property -Gifts of tangible personal property (gifts-in-kind) with a value in excess of $100,000 require the approval of the Gift Acceptance Committee. Gifts-in-kind with a value less than $100,000 may be accepted with the approval of the appropriate dean or officer of the university. Gifts of tangible personal property are generally gifted to the university to provide resources that will enhance programs. The foundation reserves the right to sell, exchange or otherwise dispose of donated personal property; however, it is advised that gifts of tangible personal property not be accepted if it is the intention that they are to be sold within three years of receipt of the property. Gifts of tangible personal property received by the foundation are valued, recorded, receipted, and acknowledged in accordance with foundation procedures and IRS regulations.
V. Ways of Giving
A. Outright Gift – A voluntary and irrevocable transfer of cash, publicly traded securities, non-liquid business interests, real estate or tangible personal property without the expectation of, or receipt of, direct economic benefit.
B. Matching Gift – Many companies have matching gift programs that will match employee donations to 50l(c)(3) organizations (foundation) or educational institutions (university).
C. Pledge – A promise to make a gift over a period of time or at a future date. The pledge agreement outlines the amount of the gift, any donor designations, and the anticipated payment date or dates. A pledge may be unconditional, conditional or an intention to give. A conditional pledge is a promise to give only if future and uncertain conditions are met. Donor imposed designations are not the same as conditions. An intention to give is considered a revocable agreement. Unconditional pledges are recorded for accounting purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting standards as codified by FASB. All pledge types are recorded for recognition purposes in the fundraising database in accordance with advancement and foundation procedures.
Pledges may be accepted for established university programs or purposes. The pledge payment schedule typically does not exceed 5 years. Payment schedules exceeding 5 years should be reviewed by the Gift Acceptance Committee. Pledges for new or not yet existing programs, or otherwise non-standard agreements exceeding $100,000 must be approved by the Gift Acceptance Committee.
D. Philanthropic Grant – Grant support from externally sponsored agreements which are charitable in nature are reported as- contributions by advancement and the foundation. Pledge and payment information for such agreements will be provided to advancement and the foundation by the university Office of Sponsored Programs.
E. Deferred (Planned) Gift – A gift which the foundation will receive at a future date (usually upon the death of the donor or beneficiary) or over a period of time. Deferred gifts include: bequests and retirement plan designations, life insurance policies, charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts and remainder interests in real property.
1. Bequests and Retirement Plan Designations -The foundation accepts charitable bequests and retirement plan designations and will abide by donor designations indicated in the related documents, assuming such designations are applicable to current programs within the university and do not violate university policy, federal, state or local laws. If the intended use falls outside of the law and university policy, the university will adhere to the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth of Virginia regarding such matters.
2. Life Insurance Policies -The foundation accepts gifts of life insurance policies in cases where the foundation is named as both the owner and beneficiary, the policy is fully paid, and donor designations are for an established university program. Exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Gift Acceptance Committee. Donations of life insurance policies and contributions made to pay life insurance policy premiums will be valued, recorded, receipted and acknowledged in accordance with foundation procedures and IRS regulations.
3. Charitable Gift Annuities -The foundation and university advancement may promote and establish gift annuity contracts with donors in accordance with applicable federal law, IRS regulations and the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The minimum contribution to fund an immediate gift annuity contract or a deferred payment gift annuity contract will be established by the Gift Acceptance Committee and may be adjusted at its discretion. All gift annuity contracts must be approved by the president and the controller of the foundation. The distribution rates will conform to the published rates of the American Council of Gift Annuities (ACGA). Any deviation from the ACGA rates must be approved by the Gift Acceptance Committee. Donations to establish charitable gift annuities will be valued, recorded, receipted and acknowledged in accordance with foundation procedures and IRS regulations. See Appendix A for current levels of required funding.
4. Charitable Remainder Trusts -The foundation may accept and administer contributions to charitable remainder trusts (CRT) in accordance with applicable federal law, IRS regulations, and the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The foundation may serve as a trustee for charitable remainder annuity trusts (CRAT) or charitable remainder unitrusts (CRUT) only if it is named as a vested remainder beneficiary of at least 51 percent of the remainder value of the trust. Exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Gift Acceptance Committee. The minimum contribution to fund a charitable remainder trust will be established by the Gift Acceptance Committee and may be adjusted at its discretion. See Appendix A for current levels of required funding.
The Gift Acceptance Committee is authorized to establish CRT payout rates. All CRT payout rates established by the foundation must conform to applicable federal law, IRS regulations, and the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Contributions of real estate to a CRT must be approved by both the Board of Trustees Real Estate Committee and the Gift Acceptance Committee. Any costs associated with the sale of real estate within a CRT will be charged to the trust’s principal.
5. Charitable Lead Trust -University advancement may promote the use of charitable lead trusts (CLT) to donor prospects as a means of reducing income or estate taxes and providing support to the university at the same time. Income produced by a CLT for the benefit of the university may be restricted and designated in accordance with policies established for any other contribution. The foundation does not serve as trustee of CL Ts. Any exception to this policy must be approved by the Gift Acceptance Committee. See Appendix A for current levels of required funding.
6. Remainder Interest in Personal Residence or Farm -University advancement may solicit gifts of remainder interests in personal residences or farms if the donor or other life tenant agrees in writing to be responsible for all maintenance, insurance, taxes and other costs associated with the property during the life tenancy. Gifts with a retained life estate must conform to other university and foundation policies regarding gifts of real estate. Gifts of remainder interests in personal residences or farms will be valued, recorded, receipted and acknowledged in accordance with foundation procedures and IRS regulations.
A. Fundraising: Annual and Campaign Reporting-Total fundraising in support of the university for gift credit is the total of all new outright gifts, matching gifts, pledge commitments, philanthropic grants and deferred gifts documented in writing during the reporting period. Verbal pledges or commitments will not be recorded in giving totals. The amount of actual charitable receipts is reported separately and is the sum of all cash and cash equivalents, marketable securities, real estate and tangible personal property received in the reporting period, including payments on pledges.
B. CASE Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) Survey-The CASE Reporting Standards and Management Guidelines for Educational Fundraising govern the management and reporting of gifts for the annual CASE VSE Survey.
C. CASE Survey of Educational Fundraising Campaigns -The CASE Reporting Standards and Management Guidelines for Educational Fundraising govern the management and reporting of gifts for the CASE Survey of Educational Fundraising Campaigns.
D. Foundation Financial Statements -All philanthropic activity is accounted for in accordance with GAAP as codified by the FASB.
E. Foundation Gift Receipts -Gift receipts are provided to donors for their tax preparation purposes and are prepared in accordance with IRS regulations. Additional letters of thanks may be generated in alternative formats.
VII. Capital Gifts – Capital gifts support construction, renovation or refurbishment of campus facilities.
Such gifts help the university to provide excellent and up-to-date environments for teaching, learning,
research, and community life.
VIII. Endowment Funds and Minimums
A. Endowment Funds -The foundation defines and manages its true and quasi-endowments in accordance with the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA) as adopted by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and GAAP as codified by FASB. Endowments may be designated by the donor for a restricted purpose in any school, college, department or program within the university and may be named in honor of donors or their designees. Endowments are governed by a written gift agreement executed by the original or lead donor, the foundation, and the university. Endowment funds are invested and managed by professional investment advisors with the oversight of the Investment Committee of the foundation’s Board of Trustees.
B. Endowment Minimums – Endowments require a minimum level of funding to be established. The Gift Acceptance Committee is authorized to update these amounts as necessary. See Appendix A for current levels of required funding.
IX. Naming Opportunities – Naming opportunities require a minimum level of funding to be established. The Gift Acceptance Committee is authorized to update these amounts as necessary. See Appendix B for current levels of required funding.
X. Compliance – Adherence to this policy is the responsibility of all university staff involved in soliciting, documenting and accepting gifts. At each step in the drafting of a gift agreement, the pertinent staff (i.e. fundraisers, reviewers, signatories) will review the terms of each gift and strive to ensure that gifts are compliant with this policy, with IRS regulations, and with FASB requirements.
XI. Forms – N/A
A. Effective Date:
May 8, 2008; Revised and Approved December 1, 2010; Revised and Approved March 2, 2017
B. Date of Most Recent Review by Gift Acceptance Committee:
January 18, 2017
XIII. Timetable for Review and Revision
This policy, related procedures and Appendix A and B shall be reviewed at least biennially by the Gift Acceptance Committee. Revisions to this Policy may be approved by the Development Committee of the Board of Visitors.
Board of Visitors