WFAA updates their gift acceptance policy

This information is shared on behalf of Michael Knetter, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA).

The goal of the Gift Acceptance Policy is to help ensure decisions to accept gifts are informed and consistent. It helps WFAA remain in compliance with appropriate administrative, legal, accounting, and IRS rules and practices.

The faculty and staff giving guidelines are the most notable changes for campus stakeholders (p. 23-25). Faculty and staff have generously supported the UW for many years, and we worked hard to design guidelines for these gifts that offer clarity to the questions we have received over time while also ensuring IRS compliance. Below are the highlights:

  1. Gifts cannot result in “more than an incidental personal benefit” to faculty/staff member.
  2. Faculty/staff cannot create a fund for which they reserve the ability to direct expenditures because of their status as donor.
  3. The policy applies to spouses of faculty/staff.

Deans, department chairs, and other individuals in positions of authority to direct expenditures from donor funds may not give gifts totaling more than $2500 annually to funds from which they may authorize expenditures for their own salary, travel, and other costs from which they directly benefit.

Faculty or staff donations below $2,500 annually to an existing chair/professorship are allowable. However if gifts total more than $2,500 annually, the campus donor is precluded from ever holding the position. Faculty may make gifts to create a new chair/professorship, provided the donor is precluded in writing from ever holding the position.

Please note that the policy prohibits donations to create or support an existing research fund in the faculty member’s area of research as well as donations by a faculty member to an existing professorship, chair, etc. while the donor is holding the position.

This forward-looking policy is an important tool in maintaining our commitment to donor stewardship and in communicating with our generous donors, including those who work on campus. Feel free to contact WFAA director of legal affairs Abi Cahak ( with any questions.