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ERIC Number: EJ932067
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jan
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0748-478X
Seeding Growth
Collins, Mary Ellen
CURRENTS, v37 n1 p26-31 Jan 2011
Some institutions create a gift fee to pay for a campaign or to cover basic fundraising costs, and especially today, many are doing it in order to increase revenues in the wake of the recession's effect on endowments. In the best circumstances, gift fees are emblematic of a transparent, accountable development process, where donors understand that the fees are a critical investment in an institution's financial health. But telling donors that 100 percent of the money they give to the institution is not going toward its intended purpose makes some fundraisers nervous, no matter how compelling the financial reasons are for doing so. Despite the differences in fee structure and implementation, institutions that have a gift fee policy do share one important trait--a commitment to being as transparent and accountable as possible. Although one can imagine donors being adverse to giving up a portion of their gifts for administrative costs, most accept the need for the fee when they fully understand its purpose. Institutions begin the communication process by making sure development officers understand the reasons for the fee so that they can comfortably broach the subject with donors. There's no hard-and-fast rule about when to mention the fee, but fundraisers agree that it shouldn't come as a surprise. Most institutions report that donors who understand the fee but feel strongly about wanting their entire gift to go toward their designated purpose often increase the amount of their gift to cover the fee. If the donor does not bring up that possibility, the development officer can do it, but the timing has to be right, and a diplomatic approach is key. In addition to face-to-face discussions with donors about the fee, institutions make sure the information is available and accessible in multiple locations--in written appeals, on receipts, in annual reports, and on websites. Gift fees have become a fact of life on the educational fundraising landscape, particularly as the economy forces institutions to look at sources other than proceeds on their endowments for new revenue streams. Although it may be tempting to consider the fee a necessary evil, taking a defensive or apologetic posture about it will not win over donors. Every other place in which they have investments charges them fees, and although they may complain about it, they accept it as the price of doing business.
Council for Advancement and Support of Education. 1307 New York Avenue NW Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-328-2273; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Arizona; Connecticut; Florida; North Carolina; Oregon