Charitable Gifts – Donor Recognition


The purpose of this policy is to define the scope, standards, responsibilities, and approach for charitable gift donor recognition.

The College for Creative Studies encourages alumni and friends of the College to use private philanthropy to preserve and enhance educational excellence and further the College’s mission. Philanthropy is an integral part of the College’s success, aiding its educational, research, and service activities now and in generations to come. In appreciation of generous gifts, donors may qualify for a variety of donor recognition expressions. The College also encourages donors to perpetuate their association with educational excellence at CCS through recognition opportunities that honor or memorialize themselves, their families, loved ones, colleagues, friends, or organizations.

This policy outlines the standards and procedures for approval, establishment, and maintenance of philanthropic donor recognition opportunities, in accordance with general College for Creative Studies policies and Institutional Advancement’s Policy – Charitable Gifts – Types and Acceptance, and in general keeping with guidelines of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

This policy is complementary to other charitable gift policies beyond the scope of this particular policy.


This policy applies to all units, departments, faculty, staff, and other interests using the name of the College for Creative Studies and participating in philanthropy on the College’s behalf. It sets the standards for which donor giving may be recognized. This includes, but is not limited, to:

  • Public acknowledgment of gifts for annual fund appeals, direct mail appeals, phonathon appeals, special projects, tribute gifts (memorials and honorials), campaign gifts, endowment gifts, planned gifts, major gifts, philanthropic grants, philanthropic sponsorships, and cumulative giving;
  • Physical spaces and items, including donor walls, plaques, attribution, areas, signage, kiosks, banners, and photographs or other depictions of donor-related subjects;
  • Events (both public and by invitation), public announcements, general public recognition, media recognition, print and online promotion, marketing, public relations announcements, and printed and online programs.
  • Giving clubs and societies;
  • Special consideration for activities that do not have a fair market value, such as VIP meetings and communications, small gatherings, announcements, notes, letters, citations, phone calls, tours, introductions, participation in ceremonies, and interviews;
  • Named funds, endowed funds, endowed academic positions or programs, general endowment funds, scholarship funds, and other ongoing funds;
  • Communications internal to the College for Creative Studies;
  • Identifying the persons authorized to approve;
  • Describing the legal and ethical standards within which gifts will receive recognition;
  • Describing the standards for donor relations to which the College will adhere.

Philanthropic Recognition Proposals

Philanthropic recognition proposals are required to be submitted through Institutional Advancement. The Vice President for Institutional Advancement has the authority to approve or deny donor recognition opportunities and activities, in consultation with the President of the College. Institutional Advancement staff may lead or work cooperatively with the donor relations efforts of the College, at the direction of the Vice President for Institutional Advancement.


Non-naming Donor Recognition

Non-naming donor recognition is structured to provide appreciation to donors that reflects specific levels of giving. For named opportunities, see Institutional Advancement’s Policy for Charitable Gifts – Donor Naming Opportunities.

Types of Donor Recognition

There are two, basic forms of donor recognition. The first is tangible recognition, including but not limited to, these examples:

  • Cards
  • Certificates
  • E-communication
  • Giving clubs listed by level of giving
  • Giving wall
  • Mementos and gifts
  • Naming and plaques on individual areas
  • Naming of a building or area
  • Naming of a program
  • Naming of an endowment
  • Newsletters
  • Press releases
  • Published interview
  • Ribbons, medals, lapel pins
  • Thank you letters

The second is interpersonal recognition, including these:

  • Announcement among peers
  • Citation at an event
  • Event where a donor is honored
  • Meeting with the president, deans, faculty, provosts, and/or board chair or other VIP that is meaningful to the donor
  • Perks (VIP status, participating in a groundbreaking ceremony, featured in the annual video, and so on)
  • Phone calls from peers
  • Thank you luncheon
  • Tour

Any donor’s expressed desire for anonymity in giving will be respected and that donor’s gift will be recognized as Anonymous. Only select Institutional Advancement staff and the President of the College will be informed of anonymous giving and only as it pertains to the execution of their responsibilities, or otherwise be compliant with the donor’s expressed desires. Donors automatically receive standard, pre-planned recognition unless they choose to opt out of it.

Recognition will be pre-planned as part of any specific appeal. A listing or menu of potential donor recognition opportunities and corresponding gift levels will be indicated in the solicitation materials, conversations, acknowledgments, or a combination of these.

For cumulative giving, recognition will be offered according to criteria established by Institutional Advancement. This includes available donor records, database records, and giving time period.

Recognition in lieu of requirements of the Internal Revenue Service Tax Code may be granted by Institutional Advancement for matching gifts, donor-advised funds, honoraria, and in-kind gifts. These types of gifts are recognized through soft credits.

Approval and Compliance

All recognition opportunities exist in a context. Institutional Advancement develops various donor recognition plans according to the stated aims of the College and the giving interests of the donor community.

Institutional Advancement is responsible for all donor recognition plans and implementation. Institutional Advancement staff will develop donor recognition standards for specific appeals or groups prior to solicitations for gifts. The Vice President for Institutional Advancement has the authority to approve or deny donor recognition based on the circumstances of a gift, in consultation with the President of the College. Requests for special circumstances or exceptions are to be given to Institutional Advancement for consideration.

As each specific appeal is concluded, donors will be informed of the results as a matter of stewardship and donor relations. The results may be communicated in any form suitable for the purpose and in a timely manner.

If a donor is inadvertently omitted from recognition for a specific appeal or campaign, Institutional Advancement staff will work with the donor to correct the omission.

If a donor’s name is misspelled or other attribution is incorrect, Institutional Advancement staff will work with the donor to correct the omission.


The Office of Institutional Advancement is responsible for assuring this policy’s standards, compliance, and implementation.

February 10, 2021

March 5, 2021

Institutional Advancement