Monetary gifts

Managing donations in the form of money.


As a best practice, monetary gifts are made through the University of Wisconsin Foundation, but can also be made directly to UW-Madison. Monetary donations must meet the following criteria:

  • The gift must provide funding for activities: This might include professorships, scholarships, building projects, fellowships, and other activities in support of the research, instruction, and service mission of the University. The donor may restrict the use of funds to a specific program area or purpose.
  • No detailed technical or fiscal reports are required as a condition of the gift: The unit or faculty member involved may provide the donor with a brief summary of the results of supported activities and a statement that expenditures were made in accordance with the intent of the gift.
  • Certain restrictions are not applied: The gift does not grant the donor with rights to, or impose any restrictions with respect to patents, copyrights, and other intellectual property rights that result from activities supported by the gift.
  • The gift contains no restrictive provisions: This might include delays or advance notice concerning publication or dissemination of data and information derived from activities supported by the gift.
  • The gift is irrevocable by the donor.

How to deposit at UW Foundation

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Deposit a gift check(s)

Complete a UW Foundation Gift Deposit Form on the WFAA’s Advancement Resources website (login access required).

You will need to know which Foundation Fund the check will be deposited into.  Follow the instructions on the Gift Deposit Form on where to mail the check(s) and any related documentation.

Donor to transfer funds via Wire or ACH

Contact the Gift Processing team (help@uwadvancement.org) at the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association for further instructions.

Deposit cash

Online donations

Donors can make online donations on the UW Foundation website.

How will the gift be acknowledged?

UW Foundation will acknowledge these donors and provide receipts for their gifts.

How to deposit at UW-Madison

Best Practices when handling gift monies:

  • Restrictively endorse checks “for deposit only” immediately upon receipt.
  • Deposit checks within five days of receipt.
  • Store undeposited checks or cash in a locked desk or safe overnight.
  • Transport checks directly to Accounting Services.  Transport cash directly to the Bursar’s Office.  Do not use campus mail.
  • Reconcile deposits you send to Accounting Services to ledger records to ensure they are credited to the proper funding string.

Depositing Gift Funds

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Deposit a gift check(s)

  • Complete a Check Deposit Form and a Gift Deposit Routing Form.
  • Route the completed and signed forms to Cash Management in Accounting Services.  (For Divisions 07, 19, 48, and 53, route to the Dean or Divisional Business Office for processing.)
  • Cash Management will deposit the check(s) and provide the Gift Deposit Routing Form to Gift Management for processing.
  • Gift Management will record the revenue and corresponding budget onto the 233 project.

Donor to transfer funds via Wire or ACH

  • Complete a Wire-Incoming Department Wire/ACH Form and a Gift Deposit Routing Form.
  • Route the completed and signed forms to Cash Management in Accounting Services.
  • Cash Management will identify the electronic receipt for deposit, and provide the Gift Deposit Routing Form to Gift Management for processing.
  • Gift Management will record the revenue and corresponding budget onto the 233 project.

Deposit cash

  • Complete the Cash Only Deposit form and follow the Cash Management procedures for depositing cash through the Bursar’s Office, and complete a Gift Deposit Routing Form.
  • Route the completed and signed Gift Deposit Routing Form to Gift Management in Accounting Services.
  • Gift Management will be notified when the cash has been deposited and will record the revenue and corresponding budget onto the 233 project.
  • Do not mail cash.

Online donations

Donors can make online donations on the UW Foundation website.

Requesting a New Project

  • Complete the Gift Deposit Routing Form to deposit gift funds as you normally would.
  • Under the “ADD PROJECTS” section, enter the new project information in Option 2 and Save.
  • When you select Print to generate the pdf form, “NEWPROJ” will appear in the Project ID field.
  • Route the deposit and/or the forms for approvals and processing as you normally would.
  • When Gift Management receives the Gift Deposit Routing Form for processing, a new project number will be created and used for the deposit, and the form’s contact person will be notified.
  • If requesting a new project number without adding gift revenue, contact Gift Management for further instructions. This will only be applicable in certain circumstances.

How will the gift be acknowledged?

Campus departments are responsible for issuing a Gift Acknowledgement Letter for monetary donations received directly by UW Madison from a donor.  The letter serves as a thank you, is a required written acknowledgment, should include the amount donated and specific language from the letter template.

Making Payments from 233 Projects

When making payments using gift funds, always review the purchase and pay all amounts that are allowable under state laws and campus policies via UW Madison payment methods. This may include making payments on fund 233/533 and requesting gift funds from UW Foundation to cover expenses. Utilize your Dean/Director/Divisional Business Office to ensure that University funds are used to the full extent possible. Once all allowable University payment channels have been used, any overages or unallowed expenditures can be submitted to UW Foundation for payment via the UW-Madison e-Reimbursement system or a UW Foundation Check/ACH Request Form. Note that all payment requests submitted to UW Foundation are subject to WFAA policies, legal and regulatory obligations, and donor intent in order to be approved for payment. See Gift Procedure 131.2 for more information.

Fund 233 Gift vs Fund 233 Private Grant

Fund 233 projects can be classified as gifts or private grants.  Governmental and state agencies, along with higher education institutions are not chartered to make unrestricted gifts to other organizations such as UW Madison.  However, these entities may provide funds in the form of an unrestricted grant which must be classified as a private grant.

    • Projects that receive funding from any type of governmental, state, county, or city municipality must be classified as private grants.
    • Projects that are championed by a private or public educational institution, hospital, or other nonprofit organization must be classified as private grants.

Gift vs Sponsored Project

In some cases it may be difficult to distinguish between a gift and a sponsored project.  A sponsored project is an activity that requires a specific statement of work, detailed financial accountability, and compliance with the sponsor’s terms and conditions.  The following conditions characterize a sponsored project agreement and help to distinguish such agreements from gifts.

The list of indicators below may also be helpful in determining the classification of an award.  Placement toward one side or the other, taken together with the analysis of the intent and source of the funds and terms of the agreement, should help to classify questionable awards.  This analysis should be coordinated with the Dean/Director/Divisional Business Office and discussed with the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs as necessary. Note that the term “grant” is not definitive in whether funds are considered a gift or for a sponsored project, as many types of donors refer to their monetary donations as grants.

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Specific statement of work

Sponsored projects are typically awarded to the University in response to a proposal to accomplish a specific statement of work and a commitment to a specified project plan.  While gifts may be restricted to a general purpose, such as cancer research, construction of a building, or library support, a sponsored project will usually entail a more detailed project methodology, e.g., a series of experiments to test a particular hypothesis or support to perform a particular activity.  This statement of work is typically supported by both a project schedule and a line item budget, both of which are essential to financial accountability.

Detailed financial accountability

The written agreement involved typically includes detailed and complex financial accountability, including conditions such as:

  1. A line item budget related to the project plan, including F&A (Facilities & Administrative, or indirect) costs
  2. A specified period of time in which project funds may be expended, usually defined with start and stop dates
  3. A requirement to return any unexpended funds at the end of that period of time
  4. Regular financial reporting and audit

These kinds of conditions generally define the level of financial responsibility associated with a sponsored project.  They are collectively indicative of the increased level of financial accountability associated with such projects.

Disposition of properties (“deliverables”)

Sponsored project agreements also usually include terms and conditions for the disposition of tangible or intangible properties, such as hardware, data, or intellectual property.  The presence of such terms and conditions in the agreement indicate that the activity is a sponsored project.

Gift-Sponsored Projects comparison

Characteristics of a Gift

  • Funding does not originate from a governmental agency
  • For a general or specific purpose, for example, endowment, capital projects, a line of research, faculty support, student financial aid, a department, library, arts, scholarships, facilities, instruction, etc
  • Few, if any deliverables (other than reports as noted below, and use of funds as requested and awarded)
  • No restrictions on publication rights.  Publication attribution may be encouraged or agreement may be silent on attribution.  Sponsoring organization may require something similar to “Research made possible by a grant/gift from…” language.
  • Proposal may be informal, e.g. a letter proposal from an individual, department, office or school, or the grant making organization may require a formal proposal with specific guidelines and required information.
  • Often require only general stewardship and communication as a courtesy to donor, e.g. progress reports, reports of expended funds and balance.
  • No requirement for return of unexpended funds
  • No required pre-approvals for expenditures unless a change of circumstances arises that may cause the University and/or the UW Foundation to revisit the purpose of the gift with the donor
  • Some gifts may be combined into one fund (if for the same purpose)
  • Qualifies for tax treatment as charitable contribution by donor
  • No obligation or agreement to share data with donor; Donor willing to relinquish intellectual property and data rights to University.  Donor may request progress reports as noted above.

Characteristics of a Sponsored Project

  • Funding often originates from governmental agencies but also with non-governmental sponsors
  • For a specific statement of work, e.g. specified protocol, experiments, testing of hypothesis, particular line of inquiry or for a specified research project, specific instruction or other sponsored activities
  • Deliverables defined by agreement, e.g. reports, research results, IP rights, equipment, etc., and funds may be withheld pending delivery
  • Agreement requires attribution to the sponsor and often may ask for or require minor publication delays
  • Sponsor requires formal and detailed proposal and/or contractual agreement.  Must be submitted through the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs or Division Offices as allowed.
  • May require detailed financial and other reports, e.g. scientific reports, invention reports, financial reports in sponsor specified format.  May include the right of the sponsor to audit the information.
  • Budgets and project period may lead to unexpended funds that must be returned if there is no approval to carry forward or extend project
  • Certain expenditures may require prior written approval by sponsor
  • Must be separately budgeted and accounted for
  • May qualify for basic research tax credit for sponsor
  • Sponsor expects or requires access to data, primary records, or has ability to audit data collection

Contact

Accounting Services – Gifts
21 North Park Street, Suite 6225-44D
Madison, WI 53715

April Cook
Gift Management Accountant
giftmgt@bussvc.wisc.edu

Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA)
help@uwadvancement.org

Phone: 608-262-0726