Games Universities Play: And How Donors Can Avoid Them

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What responsibilities do universities have to donors, many of whom are alumni? Presumably, one responsibility is to respect their wishes when they provide gifts with specific purposes. Yet Martin Morse Wooster shows in this report that universities often neglect the wishes of contributors.

“Games Universities Play: And How Donors Can Avoid Them” offers illustrations of such failures to honor donor intent as the Robertson family’s charge that Princeton diverted funds from a family gift and accusations that Trinity College siphoned funds from an endowed chair.

The paper also points out that donors have a responsibility to be clear about their wishes and to act carefully when they give money to their alma mater or to other universities. It includes advice to potential donors to guide them through the process of giving money to universities.

The author is Martin Morse Wooster, a veteran of the study of philanthropy. He is a senior fellow at the Capital Research Center in Washington, D.C., and a contributing editor of Philanthropy magazine.

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