Giving FAQ - University of Houston
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Giving FAQ

The Corporate & Foundation Relations (CFR) team builds relationships with organizations who choose to support broader communities financially, through volunteerism, and/or who identify higher education as a philanthropic priority. Our CFR team represents the University of Houston as the initial contact for philanthropic interests, including financial gifts, gift-in-kind, and volunteers. Any discussions related to business, corporations and/or private foundations should first be vetted through CFR to ensure there are no duplications in efforts.

Individual giving is related to individuals, not connected to a business or foundation, seeking to build a connection to a specific person within the University. The person also gives to support an initiative that is important to them that they may or could have benefited from while they were in school.

There are a various ways to give,

  • Online
  • Cash or check
  • Stocks and securities
  • Gifts-in-Kind (Tangible items such as equipment, books, or software)
  • Planned Giving (gifts through estate and/or retirement plans)

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

An endowment fund requires a minimum investment gift of $25,000. The total amount of the investment is placed into the University of Houston’s organization's portfolio along with other investments such as bonds, securities, cash, and other assets. Each year, income generated from the endowment fund is allocated to the donor’s gift intentions (i.e., scholarships or programmatic support). The investment period ranges from 12 to 18 months on average before income is awarded. For example, a $25,000 endowment with a three-year ROI average of 4% will generate approximately $1,000 after during the initial investment period. There is no cap on an endowment.

An operating fund does not require a minimum amount to give. It can be allocated by the donor or organization to support the needs intended. An operating fund is used for current expenses. Therefore, these gifts are not invested, nor do they accrue interest. If the donor wishes for the funds to be used right away, this is a great option.

There are three steps to remember: engage them, connect with the Development team in University Advancement, and know your program/department’s case for support. You should engage the donor by understanding their philanthropic interest and -. make the introduction to your assigned Development Officer. Reference the department or divisions priorities and philanthropic needs (link to case statements listing under priorities). Completing these tasks ensures that donors will be cultivated and engaged in accordance with the best practices for development and university relations.

Yes. When a department receives a gift, the Office of Gift Processing and Records (GPR) in Advancement will notify the development officer or unit’s business administrator. The donor will receive a gift acknowledgement letter from the GPR. Your department may also choose to steward the donor separately by sending a thank you letter from the department’s director or division leadership, depending on the gift level.

Order of acknowledgement:

  1. Acknowledgement letter from University Advancement’s Gift Processing team.
  2. Thank you letter from Dr. Maxwell, Interim Vice President of Student Affairs.
  3. Personal thank you note from the department director with a more detailed description about the gift and how it will impact the students.

Yes, and there is a process. Tangible gifts of this nature are called gifts-in-kind. 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 information gathered from the donor. Once that has been completed, the director will contact the Division’s assigned development officer. A member of the Development team 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.

If there is a cost center already set up, the donor can be directed to the giving page and instructed to reference scholarship fund.

If the donor is choosing to make a lead gift for the fund, confirm their intent and notify the Division’s assigned development officer. The development officer will contact the donor to determine the next steps and notify the department director of the process.

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.

Stewardship is the administrative management of a gift funds. Stewardship management includes gift reporting, communication and oversight of funds donated to the University by individuals, corporations and/or foundation, public or private. Stewardship is an important process that helps promote a positive philanthropic experience. Stewarding donors influences future support and encourages donors to share their experience with other donor prospects.

We all play an important role in the stewardship process. 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 work with the directors to take the appropriate stewardship actions in accordance with the gift agreements and best practices for stewardship according to CASE.

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

Program Managers/Directors - 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.

University 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.

Business Administrator – Track fiscal administration and spending of gifts.

Once a donation is received, the development officer creates a Gift Transmittable Form (GTF). The form and backup documentation are sent over to GPR 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.

Sponsorship guidelines vary by the program, event or department. All fundraising events require an Appeal Code and knowledge of the fair market value of the sponsorship (if applicable), which can be obtained by contacting the Office of Annual Giving.

The fair market value is calculated by subtracting the actual cost of the benefit from the full amount of the donation. For example, a company wants to sponsor a table that seats 10 guests at the sponsorship level of $1,000. The fair market value equals the cost of a benefit (dinner for 10 @ $30 pp) subtracted from the amount of the sponsorship. $1,000-$300= $700.

Yes. Corporate contracts are currently in place (such as food, beverage, etc.) that may create limitations regarding 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 guide rules for engagement.

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.

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.

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 with your development officer to assist in developing a strategy for partnerships.