Donor Intent Policy

The Miami University Foundation Donor Intent Policy


The Miami University Foundation (Foundation) has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure donor wishes are strictly observed and gifts are used only for the purpose stated by the donor.  Gifts received for the benefit of Miami University must be spent according to the donor’s intent.

The Foundation must ensure it merits the respect and trust of the general public and that current and prospective donors can have full confidence the funds are spent in a prudent and efficient manner consistent with their intentions.

By adopting this policy, the Foundation assigns responsibility for execution of this policy to the Office of Stewardship and Donor Relations (OSDR).


Donor Gift Intent

The Foundation will fulfill a donor’s specified gift intent to the extent it is legal, consistent with the Foundation’s tax exempt purposes, and capable of being performed.  To this end the Foundation shall have practices and procedures for:

  1. Assisting donors in clearly articulating gift intent in advance or in connection with making a gift.
  2. Documenting donor gift intent upon receipt of a gift.
  3. Implementing donor gift intent in the administration of a gift.
  4. Monitoring the administration of gifts to verify donor gift intent is implemented.



Financial managers are responsible for ensuring processes and controls are in place to ensure the use of gift resources agree with donor intentions.  The determination of donor intent must be supported by the Endowment Gift Agreement (EGA).  If no EGA exists, then other pertinent documentation stating the donor’s intent should be used.  These documents include:

  1. Signed donor pledge form
  2. Donor signed correspondence indicating intent
  3. Copy of a Will or Trust Document indicating donor intent

The determination of donor intent, whenever possible, must be identified by a document signed by the donor.


Unrestricted and Undesignated Funds

In some cases, the Foundation receives gifts where the donor makes no clearly indicated designation as to the method or purpose of expenditure (undesignated funds).  The Foundation will undertake best efforts to consult with the donors to determine the intended purpose of the undesignated fund.  If, after three years, the funds remain undesignated and the donor has not determined a purpose, the Foundation may, in its sole discretion, deem the undesignated gift an unrestricted gift.  Unrestricted funds will follow the Foundation’s Policy on Unrestricted Gift Funds, the Miami Fund and Quasi-Endowment Funds.   Unrestricted gifts of under $50,000 will be placed into the Foundation’s Miami Fund unless the donor has directed that the funds should be a true endowment, in which case it would be governed by the Foundation’s Policy on Unrestricted Gift Funds, the Miami Fund and Quasi-Endowment Funds.
Compliance with Donor’s Intent

The OSDR will use the following procedures to monitor and document compliance with donor intent:

  1. Annually, the Foundation produces a report for each fund.  The endowment report includes financial information about the specific fund the endowment pool, and, information about the student scholarship recipient if applicable, and the Donor Intent Policy.  In addition, the endowment report includes a welcome letter from the Vice President of University Advancement and the Executive Director of the Foundation as well as an article about a particular aspect of the University.  This information is given to donors to keep them apprised of their individual funds and to show donors’ money at work.
  2. The OSDR will perform random compliance reviews to ensure the financial manager is expending the fund in accordance with donor intent.  These reviews will be performed in conjunction with the annual departmental reviews. The compliance review process includes an audit of the individual expenditures from the fund to ensure compliance with the criteria established by the donor.  The OSDR will prepare a final memo summarizing the results of the compliance audits for the funds reviewed.
  3. The OSDR will provide courtesy, non-technical, and informational reporting of the use of gift funds, as the information is requested by the donor or as required by the EGA.
  4. The OSDR will conduct annual education and awareness programs for Deans, Directors, Department Chairs and staff designed to provide consistent management of the funds throughout all Divisions and to ensure all Divisions understand and comply with the Foundation’s Policy on Restricted Gift Funds.


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For more information, please contact:

Joan WalkerJoan Walker ‘91
Director of Compliance and Gift Processing
(513) 529-5227