HOW DO WE ENSURE FIDELITY TO DONOR INTENT?

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CASE STUDY

University of Texas Board of Regents

Foundations have an obligation to fulfill their founding donors' intentions as best they can. If your donor has passed away, you may need to know what his or her founding intentions were. Are you still following them? How do you fulfill your donor's intentions in light of today's changed circumstances? How do you restore donor intent once it has been compromised?

If you are a donor who has established a foundation, how you choose your trustees and staff, structure your giving entity, craft your mission statement, and make your mission operational during your lifetime have important consequences for the preservation of your intentions over time.

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS BOARD OF REGENTS:

Like many universities, the University of Texas System is supported by numerous foundations that share the name and resources of the university yet are privately run and exist as separate legal entities. The University of Texas Board Of Regents oversees the nine universities and six medical institutions of the University of Texas system, with no fewer than 21 university-affiliated private foundations providing funds for operations.

The unique nature of the relationship between these foundations and the university creates a number of management and oversight issues. Each foundation adheres to a different set of bylaws, agreements, and financial practices that govern their relationship to the University of Texas. Further complicating these arrangements is the fact that laws impose difference requirements and procedures on the private foundations than they do on the governance of public universities, raising compliance issues when the two entities cooperate.

The University of Texas Board of Regents Task Force assigned to address these issues hired American Philanthropic to research and recommend best practices for relationships with university-affiliated foundations. We helped draft a comprehensive report on maintaining mission alignment, preserving donor intent, and adopting financial policies and compliance procedures that best served the common interests of the university and its supporting foundations.

RELATED SERVICES:

  • Strategic goal-setting.
  • Giving portfolio and grantee evaluations.
  • Donor-intent audits.
  • Assistance securing or recovering donor intent.
  • Analysis and improvement of giving impact.