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Fundraising and Donations Overview

In recent years the University has increasingly recognized the importance of donor contributions / private funding to sustaining its reputation as a first-class teaching and research institution.

This section provides an overview of the following topics:

Division of University Advancement


Solicitation Programs

Role of University Departments

Donor Relations – Acknowledgement and Recognition of Gifts

Donor Relations – Stewardship

Monetary Donations

Gifts-in-Kind (Non-Monetary Donations)

Division of University Advancement

The Division of University Advancement (DUA) is organized to play a key role in the area of donor contributions and private funding by:

  • focusing on fundraising and cultivating long-term relationships with alumni and donors,
  • maintaining donor records, being responsible for pledge management, processing all donations to the University and issuing all charitable donation receipts, as well as setting up trust funds in FIS.

The mandate of DUA is to maximize gifts to the University and its constituent parts from alumni, friends, corporations, foundations and other sources.

This is accomplished by:

  • working with the Provost to determine the University’s fundraising priorities
  • establishing annual fundraising goals for increasing and measuring success
  • acting in partnership with the constituencies in identifying, cultivating and soliciting prospects
  • supporting fundraising activities of the constituencies
  • coordinating and monitoring the efforts of divisional staff and volunteers
  • cooperating with the constituencies in exercising good stewardship
  • building relationships with the donor community in cooperation with the constituencies

See the Guidelines on Fund Raising Strategy and Programs at the University of Toronto for a more detailed explanation of guidelines for fundraising at the University.

Fundraising approaches include the following:

  • direct mail
  • telemarketing
  • personal solicitation
  • long-term cultivation of prospective donors


Up-to-date contact information for DUA can be found on the Division of University Advancement website.

Individual sites relating to fundraising and donations include:

Solicitation Programs

Annual and Leadership Giving

The Annual and Leadership Giving team executes solicitations to alumni and friends of the University on behalf of all academic divisions as well as Hart House, Convocation Hall and the University Libraries. Donations are designated to all areas of need, from student financial support to innovative teaching spaces, from student clubs to research. Solicitations are made through mail, phone, email and personal contact.

Leadership Annual Giving targets donors whose annual support is between $1,000 and $25,000 and includes the Presidents’ Circle recognitions society.

The Annual and Leadership Giving team also oversee the annual Faculty and Staff Campaign which reaches out to University employees to encourage them to go beyond their everyday commitment and make a financial contribution.

Gift Planning and Bequests
This program seeks to identify donors with an interest in giving to the University and to assist them to structure their gift for maximum tax advantage.

Gifts in this category can include:

  • bequests, i.e. gifts made by will
  • retirement funds
  • stocks and securities
  • gifts-in-kind (e.g. computers, rare books, paintings)
  • charitable remainder trusts
  • gifts of residual interest, and
  • life insurance

Major gifts
The major gift program builds long-term relationships with individuals interested in the University and capable of making gifts in excess of $25,000.

Corporate matching gifts
In co-operation with the constituencies*, the University seeks to maximize corporate and foundation gifts. Over 10,000 companies in North America will match contributions made by their employees to U of T. All these firms will at least double the size of the employee/alumni gift by matching the amount of the contribution. Others will triple the donation and some will even do more. Matching gifts vary company to company. For more information, refer to the Corporate Matching Gifts page of the Division of University Advancement.

* Constituencies are the divisions and affiliated organizations of the University of Toronto.

Role of University Departments

Cultivating donors
Cultivating donors and potential donors is not solely the role of the Division of University Advancement. A number of the University’s larger colleges and faculties have offices responsible for alumni and development activities as well as major gift fundraising. This reflects the University’s decentralized structure and recognizes that alumni often closely identify with a college, faculty, department or school. In respect to donations received and directed to departmental use, departments play a key role. See the sections on Donor Relations below.

Division of University Advancement as a resource
The Division of University Advancement can be viewed as a resource to other departments active in this area by:

  • administering constituency-based programs:
    • The Annual Fund is a program conducted and administered by the Division of University Advancement.
  • providing information support through its Research Office in order that solicitations:
    • can be targeted to a donor’s interests, sensitivities and ability to give
    • can be coordinated so as to avoid solicitations from multiple University constituencies.

The following resources are available to constituency staff participating in the major gift program:

  • use of library materials (however, most publications cannot be taken out of the Development offices as they are in constant use)
  • online searches at cost
  • system profile and copies of articles on donor prospects
  • Prospect Contact Reports of cultivation activities.

Donations Management
This department processes all donations received and maintains a database of historical information. For information on a donation credited to a departmental account, donor inquiries or complaints, please contact:

Alumni and Donor Services
21 King’s College Circle

Donor Relations – Acknowledgement and Recognition of Gifts

There are a number of key elements in cultivating a long-term and mutually rewarding relationship with a University donor. This section covers acknowledgement and recognition of gifts. The next section covers the stewardship over gifts.

All donations are acknowledged by the Division of University Advancement by way of a Thank you letter which is attached to the charitable donation receipt.

Due to the generic nature of the letter, an additional thank you to the donor from the head of the recipient unit is highly recommended. An expression of personal appreciation positively reinforces the value of the gift and encourages future giving.

University Gift Clubs
Gift clubs are donor recognition societies that recognize and honour the University’s donors. The University annually publishes the names of Heritage Donors and donors at the Presidents’ Circle level.

Presidents’ Circle
The Presidents’ Circle and many of the college and faculty gift clubs help build links with donors by providing opportunities for personal involvement and by serving as a means for keeping donors informed. Individual colleges and faculties have sole responsibility for recognition of individual donors under $1,827 and joint responsibility with Alumni and Development for gifts of $1,827 ($10,000 or more for donations from corporations, foundations and other organizations). For more information, refer to Presidents’ Circle on the Division of University Advancement site.

Constituency Gift Clubs:
Various gift clubs have been established by constituencies to recognize gift giving. Consultation with members of the staff of the Division of University Advancement prior to developing terms of reference for these gift clubs is recommended.

Note: When a corporation matches an employee’s gift to the University, the matching gift is included in the corporation’s total annual giving. Gift Clubs recognize an individual’s annual giving.

Donor Relations – Stewardship

Stewardship relates to resource management and, in the context of a donor’s gift, involves the following:

  • compliance with the donor’s wishes with respect to application of the gift,
  • effective management of the resources represented by the gift, and
  • accountability

Application of gift
A donor will frequently attach specific restrictions to a gift. For example, in the case of a monetary gift:

  • that it be endowed and the investment income put to a general or specific use, or
  • that it be available to a specific faculty or department for a general or specific use, or that it be used to fund a capital project.

The University’s use of fund accounting is an important first step in respecting a donor’s wishes regarding the use of a monetary gift:

  • An endowment is placed in a special fund account in Restricted Funds and invested through the Long-term Capital Appreciation Pool (LTCAP). Annual distributions of investment income are appropriated for the specified use.
  • Expendable gifts are placed in a faculty, departmental or special purpose trust fund in Restricted Funds and appropriated for use by the faculty or department.

Effective management
Endowments – Effective management of endowments involves sound investment policies and effective use of the investment income. See the GTFM section on Investment for more information.

Expendable donations – Once an expendable gift, or the investment income from an endowment, has been appropriated for expenditures, it is the responsibility of the recipient unit to ensure that the gift is used as intended and used effectively. In meeting this objective, fund managers, under the leadership of the head of the unit, are guided by University policies, regulations and guidelines. In the case of capital projects, the University has developed policies and procedures for sound management of resources for capital projects. (see GTFM section on Alterations, Renovations and Space).

Fund Accounting – The use of fund accounting provides the mechanism for accountability for monetary gifts. By placing donations into restricted funds, the University can effectively monitor the use of those funds and can separately report on the financial activity.

Terms and Conditions – The terms and conditions of donors, if any, are summarized in the summary sheet, administrative digest or award record, and should be referred to by divisions to determine appropriate (and inappropriate) use of donor funds.

Reporting – In response to donor requests for financial reporting on funds in excess of $95,000, the Financial Services Department has developed a financial report which includes a Statement of Endowment Fund and a Statement of Expendable Fund. Here is a sample report.

Monetary Donations

Gifts-in-Kind (Non-Monetary Donations)

Last Revision March 2013