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Gift Acceptance and Administration

  • Responsible Office: Development and Alumni Relations
  • Current Approved Version: 05/14/2021
  • Policy Type: Board of Visitors

Policy Statement and Purpose

Virginia Commonwealth University is committed to the success of its fundraising program in order to develop and enhance programs beyond what is possible with state support and generated revenue. Philanthropic gifts increase access to exceptional education, institutional research and health care.

This policy governs the acceptance of all gifts made to support Virginia Commonwealth University, including cash, publicly traded securities, life insurance, gifts-in-kind and/or works of art, gifts of real estate and estate/planned gifts. 

  • A gift shall not be accepted by Virginia Commonwealth University unless there is a reasonable expectation that acceptance of the gift will advance the mission of the university and complies with IRS regulations and applicable state/federal laws. 
  • The university reserves the right to accept, decline or return a gift. A gift will not be accepted by the university if such acceptance imposes upon the university overly burdensome administrative or other costs or financial risk.

Should criteria become impossible to fulfill or are no longer consistent with the mission of the university, VCU will contact the donor or appointed representatives to alter the gift’s criteria.

Noncompliance with this policy could result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. VCU supports an environment free from retaliation. Retaliation against any employee who brings forth a good faith concern, asks a clarifying question or participates in an investigation is prohibited.

Table of Contents

Who Should Know This Policy
Policy Specifics and Procedures
Related Documents
Revision History

Who Should Know This Policy

All university employees engaged in activities related to development and alumni relations are responsible for knowing this policy and familiarizing themselves with its contents and provisions.


Affiliated or institutionally-related foundations

VCU has affiliated philanthropic foundations that are separate 501(c)(3) charitable corporations organized to operate for the support of the university, while operating with their own self-governed boards and bylaws. They accept and invest gifts made in support of the university.


The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is a global nonprofit association dedicated to educational advancement — alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and advancement services — and shares the goal of championing education to transform lives and society.

Cash gifts

These gifts include currency, credit-card commitments, checks, direct deposits made by any department and payroll deduction arrangements. These gifts can be put to immediate use and/or invested by the university or its affiliated foundations.

Complex gifts

The IRS defines a complex gift as an item that is not reasonably expected to be used to further the organization’s exempt purpose (beyond the need for funds) and for which there is no ready market to liquidate the contribution and/or the value of the item is highly speculative or difficult to ascertain.

Current fund

A type of fund that is expendable in the near future for the purposes of advancing the university. Current funds can be either restricted or unrestricted.

Endowed fund

A type of fund containing assets that were given in perpetuity and can be unrestricted or restricted for a specific purpose, program, or campus unit. In general, there are three types of endowment funds:

  • True endowment funds are gifts received from a donor with the restriction that the principal is not expendable.
  • Term endowment funds are gifts for which the donor stipulates that the principal may be expended after a stated period of time or upon the occurrence of a certain event.
  • Quasi-endowment funds, or funds functioning like an endowment, are internal accounts that have been established by the governing board to function like an endowment fund but that may be expended at any time at the discretion of the Board.

Expendable Funds

Either restricted or unrestricted funds that may be expended by the institution.


A charitable contribution for the use of a qualified organization. It is voluntary and is made without receiving, or expecting to receive, anything of equal value in return.

Gift Acceptance Committee

A standing committee that confers at the request of the vice president of Development and Alumni Relations to consider and approve the acceptance and/or recognition of complex gifts.

Gift agreement

An agreement between the donor(s) and the university or an affiliated foundation that defines the purpose of the gift, the gift amount, a schedule of contributions and other terms deemed appropriate by either party.

Gift in kind

A noncash donation of materials or long-lived assets other than real and personal property.

Restricted Funds

Funds that contain gifts provided to the university and are subject to legally binding limitations on their use. These limitations are outlined through a gift agreement or institutional award letter. If the university accepts such assets, it must abide by these limitations. Restricted funds are usually classified in one of two ways: 

  • Expendable Restricted Funds: Restricted current funds which allow the asset to be expended in the normal course of meeting the restriction.
  • Non-expendable Endowed Funds: Funds which require that the donated assets be retained for investment purposes in perpetuity. The income from these investments may be designated to a school or unit, and unrestricted or restricted in purpose.

Restricted Quasi-Endowment Funds: These are expendable restricted funds containing assets designated by the Board for long-term investment. The income from these investments is restricted to specific operating purposes which the donor has specified. The Board can, at any time, approve expenditure of these invested funds in accordance with the specific donor restrictions.

Unrestricted Funds: Unrestricted funds are   fundscontaining assets received by the university with no donor restriction on their use and are, therefore, expendable for any lawful university purpose. The process for fund allocation may be at the discretion of the senior vice president and chief financial officer and appropriate members of the president’s cabinet.

Unrestricted Quasi-Endowment Funds: These are unrestricted   fundscontaining assets designated by the Board for long-term investment. The income from these investments is for unrestricted purposes. The Board can, at any time, approve expenditures of these invested funds for unrestricted use.



The Office of Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) officially interprets this policy. The Office of Development and Alumni Relations is responsible for obtaining approval for any revisions as required by the policy “Creating and Maintaining Policies and Procedures” through the appropriate governance structures. 

Please direct policy questions to the Office of Development and Alumni Relations’ Office of Gifts and Records Management.


Policy Specifics and Procedure 

1.     Gift Acceptance

The university shall generally accept all gifts provided to the university, as long as the terms and conditions comply with the law and regulations, contractual agreements made with foundations, and align with the mission, vision, and values of the university.

 Gift Acceptance Committee
 Gift Acceptance Committee: Purpose, Composition, and Mandate

The university maintains a standing Gift Acceptance Committee (GAC). The committee meets as needed, at the request of the vice president of Development and Alumni Relations to consider and approve the acceptance and/or naming of complex gifts. All complex gifts must be approved by the committee before presentation to the Board of Visitors for final approval. The Gift Acceptance Committee is appointed by the university president or their designee, is staffed by the vice president of DAR and member from the following offices:

  • Vice President for Finance
  • Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • VCU Integrity and Compliance
  • VCU General Counsel
  • Development Administration and Operations
Gifts That Must Be Reviewed by the Gift Acceptance Committee

Gifts that meet IRS rules and CASE standards can be accepted by the Office of Development and Alumni Relations at the discretion of the vice president for Development and Alumni Relations, or their designee.

Gifts that fall outside of IRS rules, CASE standards or as described below may create risk and must be reviewed and approved by the GAC, before acceptance of the gift is communicated to the donor. In general, the university will not accept gifts that fall outside of IRS rules.

Minimal risk (these gifts are presented to the GAC only at the discretion of the vice president of Development and Alumni Relations or their designee.

  1. Gifts paid over more than 5 years
  2. Gifts that could expose the university to adverse publicity
  3. Gifts with restrictive conditions
  4. Planned or testamentary gifts that include life insurance or tangible personal property

 Moderate risk

  1. Gifts that fall outside CASE guidelines for campaign counting
  2. Gifts with provisions that require the return of the gift under certain circumstances (other than unspent funds for a specific project)
  3. Gifts with restrictions that are not straightforward (e.g. difficult to award criteria)
  4. Gifts requiring donor control in expenditure
  5. Gifts that do not meet minimums for expected outcomes
  6. Gifts that are related to the appointment or retention of a specific individual
  7. Gifts that could have real or apparent conflicts of interest for the donor, university officers, or employees
  8. Gifts of real estate that do not include restrictions on use or disposal

 Material risk

  1. Gifts or gifts-in-kind valued above $100,000 that require approval by the vice presidents of Research or Academic Affairs, or gifts that have the potential to influence academic decision-making
  2. Gifts of $1,000,000 or more that impose a university obligation, excluding gifts for scholarships or academic aid
  3. Gifts of art
  4. Gifts from unknown or unaffiliated foreign entities
  5. Gifts with potential for immediate or future financial and/or administrative burden
  6. Gifts of close-held or nonpublic traded securities
  7. Gifts of ownership in a private business
  8. Gifts of real estate that include restrictions on use or disposal
Referring Gifts to the Gift Acceptance Committee 

Questions concerning gift acceptability should be referred to the Gifts and Records Management Office, which, when necessary and in consultation with the vice president for Development and Alumni Relations, will convene the GAC for review of the proposed gift. All complex or nonstandard gifts must be reviewed by the GAC for oversight and acceptance. Any requests for special consideration of a gift or exceptional circumstances must be presented to the vice president for DAR, or his/her designee, who will convene the GAC.

2.    Gift Documentation

All gift documents (e.g. checks, wills, deferred-giving documents) must name Virginia Commonwealth University, or the VCU Foundation, the Medical College of Virginia Foundation, the VCU School of Business Foundation, the VCU College of Engineering Foundation, the VCU Real Estate Foundation or another VCU affiliated foundation, named endowment fund, school or department as the recipient for the benefit of Virginia Commonwealth University or the VCU Health System.

Gifts of any amount that establish an endowed fund, or are restricted to a specific use, require a gift agreement or award letter. Campus partners must use gift agreement templates approved by the vice president for Development and Alumni Relations. Gift agreement guidelines and templates are available from the DAR office or one of the university’s institutionally-related foundations.

Gift credits

Cash gifts are credited at full value as of the date deposited by the university or foundation. Gifts of foreign currency are reported at the exchange rate on the gift credit date. Gifts made by credit card, even though considered cash gifts, are credited at the time they are processed and are applied to the donor’s card statement.  For gifts mailed to the university or an institutionally-related foundation, the legal date of transfer is the postmark date. In accordance with gift-processing procedures, however, gifts will be credited on the date they are deposited, with the only exceptions being the end of the calendar year (Dec. 31) and the end of the fiscal year (June 30).

Receipt of gifts and gift processing

All gifts, whether gifts are solicited by a department or Development and Alumni Relations, must be processed through the Office of Gifts and Records Management (GRM) to ensure accurate recording, receipting and reporting.

To ensure proper recording, receipting, and reporting:

·         All solicitations must have the remittance address as the GRM campus box.

·         All gifts agreements and contributions should be sent to the GRM campus box.

·         Gifts mailed to a university unit/department must be hand-delivered to GRM or dropped in one of the GRM drop boxes within 24 hours of receipt.

GRM produces the official tax receipts on behalf of the university and the university’s affiliated foundations. Thank you letters and gift acknowledgements sent by campus partners should not include dollar value as the donor could misconstrue such letters as tax receipts.

The university shall ensure that separate identifiable accounts are established to record each type of fund. The university shall document the limitations on restricted funds at the time they are received.


Gift Agreement templates are available to development personnel with access to the DAR intranet on from one of the university’s institutionally-related foundations, or by email to 

Related Documents


  1. VCU Policy: Cash Receipting
  2. VCU Policy: Development and Alumni Relations’ Activities
  3. VCU Policy: Recognition of Donors and Friends
  4. VCU Policy: Art on Campus
  5. The Donor Bill of Rights (External Link)
  6. Quasi-Endowment Funds and the Investment of Funds Information


Revision History

This policy supersedes the following archived policies:


Approval/revision date                         Title

March 1994                                           Acceptance and Administration of Contributions

February 22, 2007                                 Acceptance and Administration of Contributions

May 6, 2009                                          General Policy Statement on Gift Acceptance

September 7, 2016                                 Acceptance and Administration of Gifts

 May 14, 2021                                        Gift Acceptance and Administration



There are no FAQ associated with this policy and procedures.