The College Donor Digest

A Crash Course in Securing Donor Intent

May 08, 2018 | Joe DeGraff

A donation to higher education is not only an investment in our country’s future, it’s a representation of your values. That is why it is essential that donors do all they can to ensure that institutions honor their intentions. Working with trusted advisers, donors can craft gift agreements that avoid ambiguities and safeguard the aims of their giving long after they are gone.

The first step in making an impact-oriented gift is to outline what types of programs are important to you as a donor. Whether you want to support bringing diverse viewpoints to campus, start a faculty-led book group where students study classic texts, or develop a program that teaches the values of free enterprise, defining your intent is an essential first step.

Next, safeguard your intent by formalizing your gift in a carefully-worded gift agreement. This language can be composed in such a way that criteria are set for the institution’s use of the gift, with accountability measures included to provide for oversight and reporting, as well. To secure your intent further, you can stipulate a charitable trustee or donor representative. The Fund for Academic Renewal assists donors with structuring their gifts, and in some circumstances may be available to serve as a charitable trustee.

By safeguarding your donor intent, you can have the assurance that your higher education gift helps expand the horizons of the next generation and fulfills your aims in giving.


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The Fund for Academic Renewal is a program of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization as defined by Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All contributions to FAR are fully tax-deductible to the maximum extent provided by law.