St. Olaf College Gift Acceptance Policy

Gift Acceptance Policy

This policy was adopted by the St. Olaf Board of Regents Gift Acceptance Committee and endorsed by the President and Board of Regents in February 2013.  This document is reviewed and updated on a regular basis, most recently in October 2022.

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

Solicitation and acceptance of gifts are 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 pre-existing policy, the pre-existing policy shall be reviewed by the Gift Acceptance Committee, which shall then make the appropriate recommendations and/or actions. Questions about the Gift Acceptance 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 the Gift Acceptance Policy and the divisional procedures that support it.  Potential exceptions to the Gift Acceptance Policy will be brought to the attention of the Vice President for Advancement for review by the Gift Acceptance Committee. Policy exceptions 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 serves as chair of the Committee, the Assistant Vice President for Advancement, the Controller, the Vice President of Equity and Inclusion, and the General Counsel. Ad hoc members will be invited to provide representation as needed to properly evaluate the gift being considered. Ad hoc members may include other college leaders, staff, or faculty.

Meetings may be convened and decisions determined through email, by phone, by video conference, or in person.  When appropriate for additional reflection and consultation, the Gift Acceptance Committee may call upon the St. Olaf College President, the Chair of the St. Olaf 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 Chief Financial Officer, 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 and College Communications 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 salaried 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 Council for the Advancement and Support of Education Board of Trustees.

The College carefully stewards donors and gifts, abiding by the industry-standard Donor Bill of Rights. The Donor Bill of Rights was created by the American Association of Fund Raising Counsel, the 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, the College 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 College will respect donor wishes in regard to the publication of information or other forms of recognition, so long as they meet the guidelines in place at the time of their gift.

Institutional Fundraising Priorities

The Vice President for Advancement and the Development Office maintain awareness of and track fundraising opportunities including capital projects, restricted endowment funds, and other initiatives. Guidelines for required gift levels and naming opportunities are set by the Vice President and maintained in the Development Office.