Charitable Gifts – Donor Relations


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

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.

Charitable gifts and the donors that make them are essential to the success of the College for Creative Studies. Institutional Advancement will work to achieve its philanthropic goals by meeting and surpassing best practices in donor relations and engagement. This donor-focused model is established to attract, retain, and increase the number of donors and amount of giving.


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:

  1. Ethical practices of philanthropy and fundraising;
  2. Professional standards for donor relations to which the College will adhere;
  3. Accountability to donors;
  4. Donor services and stewardship; and
  5. Donor recognition.

All philanthropic efforts and donor relations and engagements are the responsibility of Institutional Advancement. As such, all related activities in philanthropy must coordinate through Institutional Advancement. Upon consultation with the President of the College for Creative Studies, Institutional Advancement may approve, participate in, or deny efforts involving donors and fundraising.


Ethical Practices

The College will abide by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s (CASE) CASE Reporting Standards & Management Guidelines for Educational Fundraising, 4th Edition (2009), Ethical Standards and Principles for Fundraisers, Appendix E, pages 133-138, which includes:

  1. Appendix E.1 – CASE Statement of Ethics, page 133
  2. Appendix E.2 – Principles of Practice for Fundraising Professionals at Educational Institutions, pages 134-135
  3. Appendix E.3 – CASE Statement on the Management of Conflicts of Interest, pages 136-137
  4. Appendix E.4 – Donor Bill of Rights, page 137
  5. Appendix E.5 – CASE Statement on Commission-based Fundraising, page 138

Professional Standards

The Policy – Charitable Gifts – Types and Acceptance specifies what gifts the College may accept. The College is not required to accept any particular gift and will not accept a gift for which it is incapable of honoring the donor’s intent.

Staff and agents in the philanthropic process will consistently demonstrate personal integrity, respect, suitable decorum, confidentiality, maintaining public trust, appropriate communication and information sharing, and disclosure of potential conflicts of interest.

Staff and agents in the philanthropic process will represent the College for Creative Studies straightforwardly and affirmatively.

When a potential conflict occurs with a donor, it is to be communicated to the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at the earliest opportunity for conflict resolution.

Staff and agents in the philanthropic process will communicate with honesty, accuracy, and clarity to donors and staff. This includes communication that is written, spoken, electronic, or by other method. Communication will be respectful of individuals and organizations, not engage in gossip, innuendo, or distortion of information.

Compensation is determined by the College for Creative Studies. Compensation as a percentage of funds raised or by commissions is prohibited and considered an unethical practice. Volunteers are not to be compensated. Staff and volunteers may be reimbursed for routine expenses if those expenditures are pre-approved by the Vice President for Institutional Advancement.

Staff may not exert undue influence in the course of professional activities.

Staff may not receive compensation or other material considerations from donors, including commissions, bribes, tips, use of properties and privileges, inheritance, gifts exceeding the Internal Revenue Service’s Insubstantial Benefit rule, or other benefits.

Only duly recognized lawyers may offer legal advice. Institutional Advancement staff are prohibited from offering legal or tax advice to donors or potential donors. If a gift discussion may have legal or tax implications, staff will declare the limits of their authority and expertise. Staff may work with donors to find options for legal or tax counsel, without showing preference to one individual or company.


Donors are entitled to a truthful, fair accounting of the uses of contributions. From time to time, staff will provide stewardship information and reports to donors. Donors with specific questions are to direct their inquiries to Institutional Advancement for prompt resolution of questions. If a philanthropic grant or a Gift Agreement require reporting at specific times and ways, Institutional Advancement will fulfill those requirements.

The College will use philanthropic gifts according to the terms for which the gifts were solicited. If the expressed use of gifts is not able to be reasonably fulfilled due to changing circumstances, Institutional Advancement staff will work to accommodate the donor’s interests in a reasonable manner. If a donor requests the return of a gift for these reasons, the donor must contact the Vice President for Institutional Advancement to discuss the options available to the donor. This is necessary due to potential legal and compliance issues for donors.

The College will make public information regarding its mission, governing board, financial status, and related topics. The College’s Form 990 is available for viewing through an inquiry to Institutional Advancement.

Donor Services and Stewardship

A charitable gift occurs when a donor provides cash or surrenders control of an asset to the College for Creative Studies.

The Internal Revenue Service requires that donors count charitable gifts in the year those gifts are made. To comply with requirements, the College will credit gifts in the year they are received. At calendar year end, gifts must be made by 11:59 p.m. on December 31, postmarked by that date, or in the case of an asset such as appreciated stock, control must be surrendered by that date (even if the transaction follows afterward). The College will not postdate gifts that do not meet the IRS requirements.

A pledge occurs when a donor makes a written commitment to give a specific amount. Verbal pledges are only acceptable in phonathons and Institutional Advancement staff will confirm those pledges with written documentation.

Donors are to receive accurate, timely gift acknowledgments that is suitable for tax purposes. All donor gifts will be acknowledged by letter or receipt.

If a donor receives material value for a gift, the fair market value of the benefit will be communicated in solicitation materials and gift acknowledgment. The amount given in excess of the fair market value is the charitable portion.

Donors will receive updates on the College’s philanthropic efforts that are appropriate by type of giving or appeal, time of reporting, uses of gifts, and related topics. These stewardship reports are to be initiated by Institutional Advancement. The reports may be written, verbal, electronic, or by combination of those methods. Reports will include quantitative information, as well as qualitative accounts of the impact of gifts.

No quid pro quo is allowed for a charitable gift. In the case where goods and services are of benefit to the donor, the fair market value of the goods and services will be stated. This portion is not considered a charitable gift to the donor, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

Donor Recognition

Donors may receive recognition for giving that is appropriate for the gift. Donor wishes for anonymity will be respected and remain anonymous.

Details of general donor recognition are stated in the Policy – Charitable Gifts – Donor Recognition.

Details of naming recognition are stated in the Policy – Charitable Gifts – Donor Naming Opportunities.

Approval and Compliance

Relationships exist on many levels. All CCS faculty, staff, and volunteers need to be strategic in philanthropic pursuits. Matters regarding donor relations and engagement are to be communicated to/coordinated with Institutional Advancement. Other departments of the College for Creative Studies are to coordinate with Institutional Advancement before reaching out to donors or engaging in fundraising.

The Vice President for Institutional Advancement, in consultation with the College’s President, has discretion regarding the nature and extent of donor relations.


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

February 10, 2021

March 5, 2021

Institutional Advancement