Gift fee aids foundation

BY MEGAN DIAL | APRIL 16, 2009 7:34 AM

Chuck Kierscht decided 40-some years ago that he wanted to give back to the UI after graduating from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Law. Now, at 70, he hasn’t stopped yet.

The 1962 alumnus resides in Chicago and donates money each year to different areas of the UI, including the arts, athletics department, and the College of Law.

But a chunk of his money doesn’t make it to those areas of the university — a small gift fee is used to support the UI Foundation.

Susan Shullaw, the foundation’s senior vice president for strategic communications, said the fees — which apply to nonendowed gifts — help fund the foundation’s mission of raising private support for the university and its students, faculty, and programs.

“It’s not something our donors seem to mind,” Shullaw said. “Our donors understand and are supportive of the fact that fundraising organizations adopt reasonable fees or institute other means of helping to pay for necessary staffing and services.”

Shullaw said the UI’s fee is tied according to the size of a gift, and it is assessed at the time the gift is deposited into the account of the UI unit the donor is supporting.

For donations less than $500,000, the fee is 5 percent, 2 and a half percent is assessed on donations up to $1 million, and any gift more than $1 million has a 1 percent fee.

Shullaw said most donations are below $500,000.

Donors such as Kierscht understand the concept.

“It’s a modest fee and supports wonderful work by the foundation,” he said. “Every charity that raises money has costs involved, and the university is no different.”

During fiscal 2008, the UI received roughly $56.7 million through nonendowed gifts and pledge payments. The revenue generated from this money by the gift fee was just over $1.8 million, all of which was used by the UI Foundation.

Since the UI instituted the fee six years ago, nearly $8.37 million has been generated to support the foundation.

Shullaw said the foundation informed a large number of donors about the fee when it began in 2003. The fee is also mentioned in gift agreements signed by major donors and is noted on the UI Foundation’s web site.

The foundation also lists on the site other resources the organization relies on — interest earned on cash gifts awaiting investment or expenditure, fees for services provided to the UI, a small fee on invested funds, and gifts designated specifically to the foundation’s operations.

“This foundation funds itself through a variety of means,” Shullaw said. “It all adds together.”
She noted that although the economy is tough on all organizations, she does not foresee any potential effect on the gift fee.

Kierscht said he sees the foundation’s need to generate money somehow. He noted only a small percent of the UI’s budget is from state funds — something “a lot of people don’t understand.”
“Private support is critical to the current and future success of the university,” he said.

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