St. Olaf College Gift Acceptance Policy: Executive Summary

This policy governs the acceptance of and processes by which gifts will be accepted by St. Olaf College.

Solicitation and acceptance of gifts is by authorized staff and volunteers. All persons soliciting gifts on behalf of St. Olaf College are bound by this policy and should consult with the Advancement Division before soliciting gifts.  St. Olaf College is a tax-exempt 501 (c)(3) organization. St. Olaf College will not accept any gift that is prohibited by federal, state, or local laws and regulations.  The acceptance of gifts by St. Olaf College will be governed by the laws of the State of Minnesota.

This Gift Acceptance Policy is written to ensure the entire philanthropic process is mutually beneficial to St. Olaf College and the donor(s) and to ensure donors are treated in a professional, ethical, and fair manner.  Policy objectives include:

  • guidance for complete and accurate reporting of gifts and pledges,
  • guidance for compliance with IRS regulations and acceptable business practices, and
  • guidance for persons involved in gift solicitation, gift recording, and gift management for St. Olaf College.

The purpose of the Gift Acceptance Policy is to ensure that gifts:

  • are appropriate to the mission and needs of the college,
  • impose no undue financial burdens on the college,
  • if restricted, are written in reasonably broad and flexible terms to maximize their usefulness to the college; and
  • if restricted, include language that permits the college to apply the gift to a related purpose in the event that the designated purpose is no longer practical, necessary or able to be performed.

St. Olaf College reserves the right to refuse any gift.  Reasons for refusal include but are not limited to gifts that are incompatible with the St. Olaf mission, gifts that impose an undue burden on the college, gifts that put the assets or reputation of the college at risk, and/or gifts that are prohibited by law.  In cases where this policy conflicts with any preexisting policy, the preexisting policy shall be reviewed by the Gift Acceptance Committee, which shall then make the appropriate recommendations and/or actions.  Questions about this Policy should be directed to the Office of the Vice President for Advancement at 507-786-3002.

Administration of Policy

The vice president for advancement is responsible for the administration of this policy and the divisional procedures that support this policy.  Potential exceptions to this policy will be brought to the attention of the vice president for advancement for review by the Gift Acceptance Committee. Exceptions to this policy must be approved by a majority vote of the Gift Acceptance Committee.

Gift Acceptance Committee Membership

The Gift Acceptance Committee is comprised of the vice president for advancement who will serve as chair of the committee, the director of development, and the chief investment officer.  Ad hoc members will be invited to provide representation as needed to properly evaluate the gift being considered.  Ad hoc members could be other college leaders, staff, or faculty.

Meetings may be convened and decisions determined through electronic media or by phone as well as in person.  When appropriate for additional reflection and consultation, this committee may call upon the president, the chair of the Board of Regents, and/or other senior administrators of the college, and may also consult with a professional who has expertise related to the gift being considered.

Policy Review and Revision

The vice president for advancement shall regularly review this policy and recommend changes or updates to it.  The Gift Acceptance Committee shall review and finalize these recommendations.  Upon the enactment or promulgation of legislation or regulatory rules affecting St. Olaf College’s fundraising and gift acceptance, the vice president for advancement, in consultation with the general counsel and/or treasurer of the college, shall have the authority to make any immediate changes necessary to assure continued compliance with such legislation or regulation.  Any changes to the policy will be reviewed with the Advancement Committee of the Board of Regents at their next scheduled meeting.

Code of Ethics

Every effort will be made to ensure that gifts accepted by St. Olaf College are in the best interests of both the College and the donor.

Fundraising staff are employees of the college and shall not receive commissions on funds raised nor will they receive any personal benefit in any gift arrangement.  All members of the Advancement staff will abide by the Principles of Practice for Fund-Raising Professionals at Educational Institutions, approved by the CASE Board of Trustees (see Appendix A).

The college carefully stewards donors and gifts, abiding by the industry-standard Donor Bill of Rights (see Appendix B). The Donor Bill of Rights was created by the American Association of Fund Raising Counsel, Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, and is widely endorsed.

With certain gift types, donors shall be advised to consult legal and/or financial counsel regarding the tax implications of gifts to St. Olaf College.  When appropriate, St. Olaf will obtain the advice of legal counsel or professional services before a final decision on gift acceptance.

All information obtained from or about donors or prospective donors will be held in strict confidence by St. Olaf College staff and volunteers.  St. Olaf will respect donor wishes in regard to publication of information or other forms of recognition, so long as they meet the guidelines in place at the time of their gift.

Additional Documentation

Additional documentation regarding the policies for accepting specific gifts and gift purposes (examples below) can be found in the college’s Gift Acceptance Policy: Detailed document.  This document is available through the Develoment Office.  Contact

  • Cash
  • Publicly-traded securities and mutual funds
  • Pledges
  • Gifts via Donor Advised Funds
  • Gifts from foundations (family, private, corporate)
  • Corporate Matching Gifts
  • Charitable Gift Annuities
  • Charitable Trusts
  • Will and bequest provisions
  • Retirement plan assets
  • Beneficiary designations (retirement plans, life insurance policy, annuity)
  • Gifts in Kind/Tangible Personal Property
  • Real estate
  • Life Insurance Policies
  • Business or partnership interests
  • Retained life estates
  • Charitable bargain sales
  • Current Unrestricted Gifts
  • Current Restricted Gifts
  • Endowment Gifts
  • Capital Gifts

Gift Schedule of Fundraising Priorities

The Vice President for Advancement maintains a master list of capital projects and other initiatives for which funds are being raised, including required gift levels and naming opportunities.

This policy was adopted by the Gift Acceptance Committee and reviewed by the President and St. Olaf Board of Regents as of February 8, 2013.  This document will be reviewed in two years (January 2015).