How to give in higher education while protecting your donor intent

Higher education can be among the most rewarding and meaningful areas for your philanthropic dollars. It can also be one of the most challenging sectors for both donor intent and grant compliance. Careful attention is mandatory to ensure that college and university administrations do not ignore, creatively interpret, disregard, or directly violate your intent. Here are some tips to help: 

• Avoid unrestricted and endowment grantmaking. 

• Create a funding stream rather than a lump sum gift. 

• Create an independent nonprofit that is informally connected—but administratively and financially independent from—institutions of higher education. 

• Give through an intermediary funder, such as a nonprofit or donor-advised fund. 

• Designate a contingent beneficiary with legal standing to sue if your original grantee fails to follow your wishes. 

• Give while you’re living when you can personally assess the best opportunities, form relationships with administrators and staff, make the investments, monitor performance, and reevaluate your decisions as needed. 

• Shop your proposal to multiple institutions. 

• Form trusting relationships with individuals within the university. 

• Respect academic freedom. 

• Be patient. 

• Consider less typical gifts and institutions. 

• Seek advice from trusted sources. 

Read more 
Twelve tips for successful giving in higher education 
Seven stories of donor intent violations in higher-education giving 
Examples of wise giving in the higher-education space 
Eight ways to protect your donor intent when funding academic centers 
When higher education donors demand accountability 
Higher-education giving—Seven steps to create a grant agreement that will honor your donor intent