Donation Acceptance Policy

Policy updated July 2022.

1. Scope

This Code of Practice applies to all philanthropic gifts to the University regardless of whether the donation is secured by the Philanthropy Team or not. It ensures that philanthropic gift acceptance procedures are transparent and accessible to all members of the University community.

2. What is a Philanthropic Gift?

Philanthropic gifts, typically gifts of money and artefacts, are intended to assist the University to pursue its strategic aims without bringing material reward to the donor. While philanthropic giving is generally associated with cash gifts, it may also take other forms such as the donation of shares, equipment or works of art.

Philanthropic giving should not be confused with sponsorship which is a cash and/or in-kind fee paid in return for access to the exploitable commercial potential associated with the beneficiary.

3. Fundraising campaigns and projects

Donors may choose to contribute to a specific campaign, to predefined projects, to a cause of their choice which aligns with the University’s strategic aims, or may state that the University should allocate their gift where the need is greatest (unrestricted).

All campaigns, projects and causes supported by philanthropic gifts within the University are subject to ethical review and must follow the ethical approval process which reflects it potential value to the University (see section 5).

As well as approving how unrestricted giving is allocated, Operations Committee must also approve fundraising campaigns and projects which have resource implications. It is the responsibility of the Director of Philanthropy to ensure that relevant committee approvals are secured during the process of identifying fundraising campaigns and projects.

4. How should discussion of philanthropic gifts be conducted?

All discussions relating to philanthropic gifts should be supported by the Philanthropy Team.

Discussions originating outside of Philanthropy should involve Philanthropy Team staff at the earliest opportunity. To facilitate these discussions, the Philanthropy team, with the assistance of the Prospect Research Team, will research and review information that is relevant to the gift, assist in the drafting of an appropriate gift agreement and prepare the information required to obtain gift acceptance approval.

Sometimes philanthropic gifts to support research are processed via the Research Office, in these cases the Research Office must follow the gift approval procedures detailed below, calling upon the support of the Prospect Research team as appropriate.

5. What is the process for accepting a philanthropic gift?

All philanthropic gifts are initially vetted by the Director of Philanthropy to ensure both compliance with applicable laws and alignment with University strategy. Acceptance of gifts outside of approved campaigns/projects/causes requires both ethical approval and the agreement of the relevant School Dean, Professional Service Lead or Pro-Vice Chancellor. Where a gift has implications for staff, space or revenue funding, additional approval is required from Operations Committee. The Director of Philanthropy is responsible for deciding when a gift should be referred in this way.

To assist in the ethical assessment of philanthropic gifts, fundraisers and members of the Ethics Committee should refer to the Loughborough University Ethical Policy Framework’s Ethical Principles and Checklist described in 7. below.

Depending on the value of a gift (or the cumulative value of gifts from the same donor) a different gift approval process will be followed:

> £50K

Prospect Research provide report to enable Ethics Committee or a quorate sub-group of Committee to approve/refuse the campaign or project.

< £50K

Director of Philanthropy makes a decision based on the ethical checklist below.

For gifts (or cumulative gifts) in excess of £50K Ethics Committee or a quorate sub-group of the Committee will receive a due diligence report from the Director of Philanthropy, prepared by the Prospect Research team, setting out the nature, source and purpose of the gift and highlighting any areas which might merit particular scrutiny. To assist in the ethical assessment of philanthropic gifts fundraisers and members of the Ethics Committee should refer to the Loughborough University Ethical Policy Framework’s Ethical Principles and Checklist described in section 7 below. If the gift is refused but further information to support its case is available it may be resubmitted for reconsideration pending a final decision. In exceptional cases, where specific reasons exist the Ethics Committee should refer the decision to University Council.

For gifts (or cumulative gifts) under £50K the Director of Philanthropy should approve or reject the gift based on due diligence research conducted by the Prospect Research team and with reference to the checklist outlined in section 7 below.

Where the Director of Philanthropy or members of the Ethics Committee have a conflict of interest this must be declared and the individual must abstain from the decision making process. For gifts under £50K, if the conflict of interest lies with the Director of Philanthropy then the gift concerned should be considered by the Director of Marketing and Advancement.

6. Ethics Committee Terms of Reference in relation to philanthropic gifts and campaigns

The Ethics Committee operates under the following terms of reference. In relation to philanthropic gifts or campaigns its remit is:

  • To make recommendations to and to receive recommendations for the development of codes of practice and guidance concerned with the acceptance of philanthropic gifts.
  • To approve or decline gifts valued in excess of £50K based on information received from the Director of Philanthropy.
  • To report decisions relating to the acceptance or rejection of gifts to University Council.
  • To give ethical approval to fundraising campaigns, projects and causes valued in excess of £50K.

After assessment against the ethical checklist, to recommend donors of widely acknowledged integrity and who are impeccable for inclusion on an Approved Donor list.

At times, it may not be possible for the full Ethics Committee to meet to consider a donor or gift. In these instances due diligence information will be shared with a quorate sub-group of the Committee who will have the delegated authority to approve or reject donors or gifts. This sub-group should consist of four members of the full Ethics Committee of which one must be the Chair or Deputy Chair and one must be a lay member of University Council.

Members of this sub-group can seek external advice, if required.

The Director of Philanthropy will attend meetings of the Ethics Committee as required to provide supporting evidence but will not participate in the decision making process.

7. Ethical checklist

Philanthropic donations are diverse and consequently the ethical considerations they raise can also vary. When considering the ethical nature of a gift, campaign, project or cause colleagues should refer to the Loughborough University Ethical Policy Framework’s Ethical Principles and Checklist. Not all points on the checklist will be applicable in all cases but the checklist provides a useful and comprehensive guide to ethical issues which might arise.

When considering the reports from the Director of Philanthropy, the following should be of particular focus:

  • The origin of the gift – where is the money or item coming from?
  • The nature of the donor – are they an individual or organisation of integrity and good reputation?
  • The legal and financial context of the gift – is the gift legal?
  • The purpose of the gift – has the benefitting campaign, project or cause obtained ethical approval, or is it ethically sound?

8. Where to obtain further guidance

In the first instance, please contact the Director of Philanthropy for assistance in gaining ethical approval for philanthropic gifts, fundraising campaigns and fundraising projects.

9. Charitable bodies from who gifts have been pre-approved by the Ethics Committee:

  • Big Lottery Fund
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • The British Academy
  • British Council
  • British Heart Foundation
  • Garfield Weston Foundation
  • The Football Association
  • Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • Leverhulme Trust
  • The Nuffield Foundation
  • The Princes Trust
  • Royal Academy of Engineering
  • The Royal Society
  • Sport England
  • Wellcome Trust
  • Wolfson Foundation
  • Youth Sports Trust
  • National Lottery Funding Bodies
  • The Gatsby Foundation
  • The Ferguson Trust

Due Diligence reports are not required for the above list unless the Philanthropy / Prospect Research Team become aware of any major changes within these organisations which might suggest a possible change in the University’s approach to gift acceptance.