Division FAQ - University of Houston
Skip to main content

Division FAQ

How does organization giving differ from individual giving?

Organizations (including businesses and corporations) give based on what they feel will help their organization by giving them notoriety, assist in research and/or recruitment efforts. Some organizations may regularly participate in giving or feel obligated to give a portion of their profits in support of the greater community.

Individual giving is based on a connection that a specific person has with the University. The person also gives to support an initiative that is important to them that they may have benefited from.

What are the different types of giving?

There are several different types of gifts that can be accepted on behalf of a donor for any need to a University, the Division, and the program. Below are several options for a donor:

  • Online giving
  • Cash donation
  • Gift-in-Kind (Any tangible item such as equipment, books, and or software)
  • Planned Giving (This is a gift that a donor leaves within their estate that a specified organization or individual receives upon their death.)

*An in-depth description of the types of giving can be found on the Ways to Give website.

What is an endowment fund and what is an operating fund? Is there a difference between the two?

Yes. There is a difference between an endowment fund and an operating fund. An endowment fund is a fund that requires a minimal amount to be setup. That minimal amount is determined by the operating organization for the endowment. The total amount of the endowment is invested into the organization's portfolio along with other investments such as bonds, securities, cash, and other assets. In order for the funds to be awarded, the money has to sit for a year in order to meet whatever standard amount that is required by the organization to be awarded. For example, an endowment set at $25,000 and the percentage for awarding is 4% will spin off $1,000 after having sat for a year. There is no cap on an endowment.  

An operating fund does not require a minimal amount and can be used by the organization to support whatever needs the intended money was donated for at the time that it was received by the organization. An operating fund spends directly off of the money that was donated and not off of the accrued interest of the fund. Money located in this time of fund is a consider one-time funding that is gone once it is used. There is no cap on an operating fund.

What should I do when an alum asks how they can support my department or a specific program?

There are three steps to remember: engage them, use a case statement, and connect with Development. You should always engage any potential donor on the opportunities that the department has for support. Reference the department or divisions case statements (link to case statements listing under priorities. Also, ask them if it would be okay if the Development Officer reached out to them and ask for the best way to contact them. By doing all of the items mentioned, ensures that the donor will be contacted, cultivated and the gift will be cared for.

What should I do if someone makes a gift in my area that I was not aware of? Will I be notified and should I thank them for the gift?

Yes. When a department receives a gift, the director will be immediately notified by the Director of Advancement. The donor will receive a couple of forms of communication to thank them for their gift:

  1. the first thank you will come from University Advancement with their tax receipt;
  2. the second will be a thank you letter from Dr. Walker; and
  3. the final form will be dependent on the nature of the gift. The director of the department should provide the third and final thank you in the form of a personal note. Inside of the thank you, there should be some description of how the gift will impact the students and or department directly.

If a parent of a student who attends the University would like to make a donation in the form of furniture or equipment for department use, can this be accepted?

Yes. In the instance that a director or member of their staff is contacted about a parent wishing to donate any type of equipment, they should ask for the following information:

  • Full Name of Donor or Business Name
  • Address
  • City, State, Zip Code
  • Telephone number
  • Email address
  • Item description
  • Quantity
  • Fair Market Value

The person gathering the information should reference the gift-in-kind document and input all of the information gathered from the donor. Once that has been completed, the director should send that form over to the development office for processing. The advancement officer will follow-up with them to ask them how they would like to be receipted. Once the donation has been received, the director of the program that received that donated item(s) should send a personal thank you to the donor.

What should I do if I am contacted by former students or staff that wants to create a scholarship for students in honor of a recently deceased former staff person from the department that I oversee?

Find out if there is a person that wishes to contribute a lead gift to start this fund. Confirm that the intent is to start a scholarship and then notify the development officer. When contacting the development officer, make them aware of the intent of the donor. The development officer will contact the lead donor looking to start this fund and convene a meeting between the lead donor, the director of the program, and themself to discuss the wishes of the prospective donor. That meeting will determine whether the funds create an operating fund or an endowment. (See the FAQ on What is an endowment fund and what is an operating fund)  

Once the fund(s) have been set up, the development officer can work with the director and the donor to develop strategies to increase support for the fund so that it meets the goals of its original intent.

Who do we refer potential donors to and is it the same person every time?

The Development Officer for the division is your contact for all giving. You should always include them in communications involving a potential donor. They will work with you on developing a strategy to solicit for areas of need that have been identified within your department and will advise the department on best practices in development.

What is stewardship and who is involved in this process?

Stewardship is the administration of a gift and overseeing, protecting, and caring for the relationship between the donor and the area in which they have chosen to support. Stewardship is important, as it ensures that a positive experience is had by the donor. That experience will influence future giving and allow for them to share their experience with other prospective donors.

Everyone who is involved in the fundraising process for a gift has a role to play in the stewardship activities with a donor. From the implementation of projects that have benefited from funds raised and is benefiting directly from funding shares in the responsibility of stewardship. The Development Officer will help facilitate along with the directors that the proper stewardship is taking place and the gifts are being administered per the agreement between the donor and the University.  

Below are some examples of stewardship that are most common for directors/ staff members and advancement professionals:

Directors of Programs - This can include personalized thank you letters with a description of the program or student receiving the support, newsletters, and invitations to award banquets or to important programs that their gifts will support.

Advancement - Personal phone calls or emails updating them on the programs that their gift supports, invitations to campus events, cards or special notes, and or inviting them to campus for a tour in accordance with the program directors.

How are donations to the department processed so the department can use them?

Once a donation is received, the development officer attaches the donation to a form that breaks down the information and the intent of the gift so that when the office of gifts and records located within the division of advancement receives the donation, they know exactly how to process it and where it belongs. The gift and the form are sent over to gifts and records who inputs the information and contacts the business office that controls the cost center for the department and processes the gift into their account. Allow for 5-7 business days for complete processing.

What sponsorship guidelines exist for UH departments/programs?

The sponsorship guidelines depend on what the company wants to sponsor and the department’s limitations. If the donor has received a benefit in return then the amount of that benefit will be subtracted from the donation and will be reflected on the receipt. An example of a benefit would include a meal at the event they are sponsoring.

Are there parameters from an institutional and/or DSAES perspective as to the types of organizations/agencies that UH has identified as inappropriate to sponsor UH or DSAES programs?

Yes. Corporate contracts are currently in place (such as food, beverage, etc.) that may create limitations in regard to approaching companies with similar products or services. Always use your best judgment when determining which types of companies you are interested in approaching for sponsorship and whether their products and values line up with those of the organization. If you are considering a company but want to discuss your strategy for approaching them, consult with the development officer before moving forward to avoid any conflicts with University limitations. They will be able to provide direct feedback about whether a company is a fit to support your efforts.

What UH exclusive contracts are in place that would limit and/or define parameters of the types of organizations/agencies we solicit for sponsorships, whether gifts in kind or dollars?

The University has several contracts in place or under negotiation for certain food and beverage products that are exclusively used on campus.  Depending on the event and type of sponsorship, these contracts may limit the type of companies that can be approached. The development officer can assist with answering any questions on ways to solicit different companies for either cash or gift-in-kind support. Administration & Finance (A&F) and specifically the team in Auxiliary Services maintain all contracts with vendors. For example, UH currently has an exclusive vendor relationship with companies like The Coca-Cola Corporation and the Texas Dow Employees Credit Union. Before approaching similar organizations with sponsorship opportunities, you should consult with the development officer for guidance on what we can/cannot offer in the way of sponsorships.

Are there advancement recommendations/guidelines regarding sponsorships that would assist departments with ensuring they are not under or over-pricing our programs/facilities?

Yes. There are recommendations/guidelines in place. Each type of sponsorship is unique and should be discussed when a potential sponsorship opportunity is available. Typically, a“presenting” or exclusive sponsorship “is valued highly” at the five-figure range or more, depending on the amount of exposure and level of benefit the company or sponsor will receive. Please keep in mind that each event and program is different, and sponsorship levels depend on the company’s unique needs.

Are there guidelines for what departments can offer sponsors – logos on t-shirts, banners in facilities, posters, ads on internal fitness equipment, P.A. announcements, internal radio stations, etc.?

Yes. The guidelines are determined by University protocol and corporate protocol. Companies will request logo approval before being used on any public outlet, and University/program guidelines may dictate where logos can be placed. There are also guidelines set within departments based on university protocol and non-compete/exclusivity clause on current contracts. When building sponsorship packages, areas for recognition must be included in advance for corporate review. You should consult your development officer to assist in developing a strategy for partnerships.