“Games Universities Play: How Donors Can Avoid Them” – A New Report from the Pope Center Warns: Donor Beware

FOR RELEASE MONDAY 9/19/2011                       

Carolyn Zahnow
Ph: 919.828.1400

“Games Universities Play: How Donors Can Avoid Them” –
A New Report from the Pope Center Warns: Donor Beware

RALEIGH, September 19 – The start of 2011-12 academic year also marks the beginning of a new fundraising season for U.S. colleges and universities, which raised some $28 billion in private donations last year, according to the Council for Aid to Education.

For donors and potential donors, especially alumni, the North Carolina-based John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy offers a word of caution: Donor beware! 

“If you want your money spent in a certain way, be careful how you structure your gift, spell out all details in writing, and establish a mechanism to see that your wishes are observed even after you’re gone,” warns Pope Center president Jane S. Shaw.

Abuses of donor intent are fairly common, Shaw advises, and are discussed by Martin Morse Wooster, a Washington-based author specializing in philanthropic issues, in a new Pope Center report, “Games Universities Play: How Donors Can Avoid Them” (report can be found here).

“Donations can lead to a clash between the intentions of the giver and the desires of school administrators,” says Wooster, who cites examples from Yale University, Boston University, Princeton University, Trinity College (Hartford), and Tulane University.

Wooster’s paper includes controversies surrounding donations of art to universities, as schools have sold or tried to sell art as a “budgetary fix.” Universities involved in such controversies include Fisk University (which has a collection donated by Georgia O’Keeffe), Randolph College (the former Randolph-Macon Women’s College), and Brandeis University.

Wooster offers a variety of recommendations for individuals and organizations considering donating to universities. For example, don’t give unrestricted funds; give annually, rather than multi-year gifts to make sure the money is being used properly; restrict the amount of your gift that can be used for university “overhead,” and state your instructions clearly, so neither party can claim later that there was a misunderstanding.

The Pope Center paper is particularly relevant to alumni, who represent 59 percent of university donors.

For the alumni of North Carolina colleges and universities, the Pope Center is simultaneously launching an interactive Web site – www.AlumniGuide.org to help them determine whether they should give to their former school.

The John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy is a nonprofit institute dedicated to improving higher education in North Carolina and throughout the country. It is named in honor of John William Pope—founder of Varity Wholesalers, Inc. in Henderson, NC, and a former member of the university of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Board of Trustees. Major funding for the Pope Center is provided by the John William Pope Foundation, a Raleigh-based charitable foundation that supports public policy, education, and human needs programs.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: For a printed copy of “Games Universities Play” please call or email Carolyn Zahnow (see contact information above).