Cherry Blossoms

Gift Spending & Management

Current as of 12/08/2020

Many donors to the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) have chosen to support the University by making either a current use or endowed gift with the intention of transforming the faculty and student experience. One of the most important ways we steward our relationships with our donors is by respecting their intent regarding spending the money that results from their giving. Failure to utilize the funds or spend in accordance with donor intent can lead to negative donor relations as well as legal consequences.

Understanding Your Unit's Gift Funds

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Advancement Services has developed the Unit Gift Funds report, to present a unit's gift funds in a way that may make more sense to Unit Administrators. This aims to help bridge the two systems that gift funds primarily reside in. Advancement works primarily in Advance, which tracks donor information as well as the gift allocations that they make gifts to, while departments work more in MyFD, which is tied directly to the Financial Accounting System. A gift fund usually has an entry in both systems, but this relationship is not always clear. For example, departments may open multiple sub-budgets for the same gift fund, whereas Advance does not have the ability to track that level of detail. Similarly, Advance may show multiple allocations that are actually directing gifts to the same MyFD budget number. Please refer to the report page for details on getting started.

Addressing Unspent Balances

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This outlines the basic options for utilizing gift funds with large unspent balances.

Current-Use Gifts (a.k.a. Term Gifts)


  • At times, strict restrictions on allowable expenses may impair your ability to utilize the fund at all. The following three documents outline the most common solutions for these situations. The memorandum to file is used to temporarily expand the agreement's restrictions, while amendments usually involve coordinating with our central partners and the donors to revise the restrictive language. UPMIFA's are typically used when the donor is no longer living, and a normal amendment is impossible.

  • You may choose to reinvest accrued distributions, using UW Finance's instructions below. Reinvestments will increase the size of future distributions. Please consider that reinvestments may not provide particularly good stewardship opportunities, and we encourage you to ensure you have a spending plan in place as you reinvest. 
  • Note for CAS's endowments, the Dean's Office implemented a new policy in FY19 aimed at endowments with large balances. The Dean's Office would reinvest any balances over the prior year's worth of endowment distributions, unless the unit developed a spending plan and requested a waiver.  

Other Resources

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Another great resource is Endowment & Donor Service's page on Fiscal Stewardship. Please note that we are in the process of writing new documentation and coordinating with what is on EDS's page, and we may add sections and move links. There may be topics we have not included yet, so please feel free to reach out to us, using the Contacts section below. Thanks for your patience!


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Please contact the Advancement Services team anytime at with questions or for more information about how we can help your department steward your donors. Additionally, you are welcome to reach out directly to either Mike on the Advancement Services team or Debbie in the Dean's Office:


Mike Lee, Fiscal Stewardship Specialist | 206.616.5526
For spending consultations, amendments, and help locating or reading gift fund agreements.

Theresa Mejia, Manager, Endowment & Gift Documentation | 206.616.5373
For spending consultations, amendments, and help locating or reading gift fund agreements.

Debbie Olson, Assistant Director of Finance & Administration (Dean's Office) | 206.616.4414
For spending consultations and fund merges/reinvestment requests.