Case Study:

How do I safeguard my donor intent?

The Herbert W. Vaughan Lecture at Harvard Law School

In 2007, the late Herbert W. Vaughan, a prominent Boston attorney and philanthropist, identified a top priority for his philanthropy: furthering the understanding of America’s founding principles and the central doctrines of the American system of government among both students and faculty.

Mr. Vaughan sought advice from FAR about how to structure a gift to his alma mater, Harvard Law School, that would accomplish this purpose and how to be certain that Harvard Law School would never waver from his intent.

He endowed the biennial Herbert W. Vaughan Lecture series, which invites outstanding scholars and jurists to campus every other year to discuss the U.S. Constitution and its doctrines. In the alternate year, his gift funds academic activities on America’s founding principles, to be sponsored or co-sponsored by the law school’s student-run Federalist Society chapter.

Because both Harvard Law School and the Federalist Society chapter are called upon to oversee the programs supported by Mr. Vaughan’s philanthropy, they must stay focused on the purposes of his restricted gift.  

To provide additional donor intent protection, Vaughan’s gift agreement also stipulates that a statement outlining his reasons for funding the lecture and academic activities must be read before the lecture or program each year.

Through these mechanisms, Mr. Vaughan, with the help of FAR, ensured that his intent will be honored long into the future and enhanced the range of perspectives heard on campus. 

FAR Services:

  • Translating philanthropic aspirations into new collegiate programs.
  • Structuring gifts to ensure respect for donor intent.
  • Assisting in negotiations with colleges and universities.
  • Creating programs that enhance understanding of America’s history and governing institutions.

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.