Gift Agreements

Secure Commitment

Finalize gift details by using this process as well as the appropriate templates.
The types of gifts that require a gift agreement signed by the University's Chief Operating Officer (COO) are:
Gifts of


Gifts That Create

New Endowed Funds

Gifts That

Involve Naming

Gifts For

Capital Construction

  1. The development officer (DO) discusses the terms of the gift with the donor and uses the appropriate template to develop a gift agreement draft (the draft is NOT to be shared directly with the donor at this point). At this point, the DO should also confirm the source and type of assets the donor will utilize to satisfy the commitment.  
  2. In most cases, if the source will be (or could potentially be) a donor-advised fund (DAF), a letter of intent template should be used and not a gift agreement template. For DAF gifts that establish endowed funds, the gift agreement establishing the terms of the fund will ideally be executed with the institution where the DAF is held, not with the donor recommending the gift. If the endowment commitment might be fulfilled through a combination of personal and DAF gifts, a second gift agreement should be executed with the donor indicating the donor pledges to make gifts from personal funds and/or recommend that a DAF make gifts.
  3. The DO gains approval from the dean/director to move forward with the draft gift agreement.
  4. The DO submits the draft agreement to Blair Wingfield in University Advancement by submitting the gift agreement request form here.
  5. University Advancement staff will receive a notification to review the draft agreement, and if necessary, work with the DO to identify issues or provisions in the agreement that require further clarification, especially regarding the needs of the University and expectations of the donor.
  6. Gift Planning reviews all agreements involving planned gifts.
  7. Provided that the gift agreement template is used, and barring any unusual circumstances, UA will employ a 48-72-hour turnaround on the draft agreement.
  8. The draft gift agreement, along with any suggested changes, is returned to the DO for review with the donor and the dean/director (if appropriate or necessary).
  1. The DO reviews the draft gift agreement, as approved by University Advancement, with the donor.
  2. The DO sends the draft gift agreement, once it has been approved by the donor, to University Advancement for approval (Gift Planning reviews all agreements involving planned gifts). Any special provisions, exceptions to general gift guidelines, and timeline required should be included in the cover email.
  3. If changes are required, University Advancement will send the agreement draft back to the DO for further revision and discussion with the donor as necessary. Once revisions are made, the DO will send the draft agreement back to University Advancement for final review.
  4. After University Advancement approves, the coordinator (from University Advancement) obtains approval for University signature from Susan Harris in the President’s Office.

Signatures are required in the following order:

  1. Dean of the school or the director of the program/unit to which the gift is designated
  2. Foundation executive director when a foundation is also accepting the gift
  3. OPTIONAL: Department chair if the gift is for a particular department within a school
  4. University Executive VP and COO (The EVP/COO should sign after the foundation director or department chair and the school dean or program/unit director. The EVP/COO signature is the official signature of the University—the dean’s or unit director’s signature is not sufficient to commit the University.)
  5. Donor

For Rector & Visitor held agreements that benefit a school and therefore require the dean’s signature, University Advancement will request the dean’s signature through that school’s advancement or foundation office. 

The following process is used to secure all required signatures:

  1. The coordinator from University Advancement communicates Susan Harris’ approval and sends the final agreement document to the school/unit or foundation. The school/unit or foundation prints originals on bond (two for R&V agreements [University and donor], three for funds to be held at a foundation), secures the dean’s or director’s signature on all copies, and informs the coordinator from University Advancement that the agreement is ready for the EVP/COO’s signature.
  2. The coordinator from University Advancement submits the agreement to the EVP/COO’s office for signature, along with Susan Harris’ approval.
  3. The signed originals will be returned to the VP for Advancement office, which will notify the DO for pick-up.
  4. The DO will then obtain the remaining signatures.
  5. The DO will deliver one signed original to the donor once all signatures are obtained.
  6. One signed original for the University should be returned by the DO to the Office of the Vice President for Advancement (please do NOT use messenger mail) for storage in the fireproof safe. Scanned copies of the signed original will be scanned and distributed to: Gift Accounting; Central files, to be included in the donor’s file; and Donor Relations for stewardship (for Rector & Visitor held agreements).
  7. The foundation will keep one signed original of foundation-held agreements.
  8. DocuSign is also an option for gathering signatures. The DO will provide the appropriate email address for the Donor and the coordinator from University Advancement will upload the final document in DocuSign. The DO should alert the Donor and provide instructions before the signature request arrives in the Donor’s inbox. 

Use for the following gifts:

  • All gifts/commitments for $100,000 or more
  • All gifts/commitments which include a naming opportunity (regardless of gift amount)
  • Capital construction gifts


Use for the following gifts:

  • All gifts/commitments that create an endowment
  • If an endowment has already been established by a previous gift agreement:
    • Additions to an existing endowment should be formally documented via either a modified endowment agreement or a letter from the donor that explicitly states the donor’s understanding that his/her gift is subject to the terms of the original fund agreement.
    • The donor who funded the establishment of an endowment fund may make additions to that endowment fund directly, without a gift agreement, or, if payments are to be made over time, by a gift agreement setting forth that schedule of payments.
  • Standard Rector & Visitors Endowment Agreement Template
  • Standard Foundation Endowment Agreement Template

Use these endowment declaration of intent templates for the following gifts:

  • All gifts/commitments paid by a Donor-Advised Fund (DAF) and Third Party Gifts that create an endowment
    • DAFs cannot satisfy pledges and must be drafted as non-binding commitments
    • It is important to ask the Donor up front, before drafting the agreement/DOI, if the plan on paying a commitment via DAF; you should still use a DOI template if the Donor plans to pay the commitment with a combination of DAF and personal payments.
  • Rectors & Visitors Declaration of Intent Template
  • Foundation Declaration of Intent Template

Need Help?

Contact Blair Wingfield to find out exactly what you need.


As of October 1, 2021: Approximately $25 million in remaining matching funds for the Bicentennial Professorship Fund. Full message from Mark Luellen. For questions regarding the remaining balance of Bicentennial Professorship Fund or Bicentennial Scholars Fund, contact Blair Wingfield

Blair Wingfield in the Office of the Vice President for Advancement facilitates the gift agreement process and answers related questions. In addition, there will be periodic training sessions on negotiating gift agreements.

For any gifts including a planned gift element, it is critical to request the expertise of the Gift Planning office in University Advancement in drawing up the agreement. Incorporating this advice in the drafting of the agreement may save valuable time in the approval process. Contact Michael Campbell for assistance.

To ensure consistency and clarity in crafting gift agreements, development officers in central development, schools, and units need to use the standard primary gift agreement and standard endowment agreement as a template for all gifts of $100,000 or more and all gifts that create a named endowment or space. Please note that foundations have individualized the template for their use, and each agreement will be tailored to the donor.

The language in the primary agreement and endowment agreement templates has been approved by University counsel, with more general instructions in brackets and italics. The language in clauses 1, 3, 4, 6, 9, 10 and 11 is non-negotiable. It is important to include all pertinent clauses, as noted in the template.

Individualized templates have been created and approved by some foundations to simplify the gift agreement drafting process.

  • For a current use gift to the University: The simplest gift agreement (an unrestricted gift to R&V), should include clauses 1, 2a, 3, 7, 8, 10, and 11. Any restriction on the gift would also need to include clause 9. If the donor is simply writing a check for the full amount, clause 3 may not even be necessary.
  • For a current use gift to a foundation: Gift agreements (unrestricted, with no endowment or naming) going through a foundation would use clauses 1, 2a and 2b, 3, 7, 8, 10 and 11. A restricted gift would also add clause 9.
  • For a capital gift to the University: This gift agreement should include clauses 1, 2a, 3, and 6–11. If any spaces are being named, clause 4 should be added.
  • For a capital gift to a foundation: This should include clauses 1-3 and 6–11. If any spaces in the building are being named, it would also need to include clause 4. Capital gifts require that the COO is designated as signatory, not “Agreed.”

Endowment agreements with a foundation should include clauses 1,2, 3, 5 (as determined be each foundation), 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, and 14. Appropriate language for funding through insurance gifts, bequests, deferred gifts, and trusts is included, to be used as appropriate. Include clause 4 if a named fund is being created. The intent clause (11) is quite different from that in the primary agreement template, and is to be used only in the specific circumstances outlined.