This policy applies to all University of Wisconsin (UW) System institutions as they manage their relationship and transactions with and their primary fundraising foundation and any real estate foundation.
The purpose of this policy is to ensure that UW institutions and their primary fundraising foundation and any real estate foundation operate effectively and responsibly, consistent with the reasonable expectations of both public and private interests, on behalf of UW System and its institutions.
The Board of Regents recognizes the important and valuable role that private foundations play in supporting the UW System and its institutions. This policy establishes standards to ensure that the relationships between UW institutions and their supporting foundations are stable and long-term, productive and efficient, and foster the maximum support possible for the UW System and its institutions.
A foundation that exists to provide fundraising or real estate development support to a UW institution must exist as separate and legally incorporated non-profit organization, with its own articles of incorporation, bylaws, board of directors and officers, and maintain a legal distance between itself and the UW institution it supports. If the foundation board of directors includes any employees of the UW System or UW institutions, the employees shall not constitute a majority of the board. In addition, any university employee that is a member of the foundation board of directors shall serve as an ex-officio and nonvoting member of the foundation board; exceptions to this provision may be granted with the approval of the System President in consultation with the General Counsel.
Any real estate projects undertaken by a foundation that involves state or university funding or property, require the approval of the appropriate UW chancellor, the System President, and the Board of Regents. A foundation cannot legally obligate a UW institution or the UW System to secure the financing of a capital project for the benefit of the institution or the system. As a state agency, the UW System and its institutions cannot secure or guarantee the debt or obligations of private entities such as foundations.
Wisconsin Statutes, Section 36.29(4) prohibits reassignment of donations from a UW institution to a foundation. Thus, if a check is made payable to the University, or a gift instrument names the University, the funds presumptively belong to the University, and must be deposited accordingly in University accounts. However, for any donation, it is necessary to establish donor intent. If a check or gift instrument names the University, but there is documented extrinsic evidence establishing donor intent to direct the check or gift to the Foundation, then the check or gift are Foundation funds and must be deposited with the Foundation. If a check or gift instrument names the University, and there is no documented extrinsic evidence establishing donor intent to direct the check or gift to the Foundation, then the check or gift are University funds and must be deposited in University accounts. Once funds are received by the University, they are state funds and are fully subject to all state law requirements and restrictions. Such funds must not be deposited with the Foundation or transferred to the Foundation as a means of avoiding state law requirements and restrictions on the use of state funds.
Each UW institution shall develop and maintain a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with its primary fundraising foundation and its real estate foundation that describes the respective responsibilities of the institution and the foundation as well as other necessary provisions consistent with the principles, best practices and requirements described in Appendix A.
Oversight, Roles, and Responsibilities
The UW System President is responsible for developing policies and procedures implementing this Regent Policy Document.
UW chancellors are responsible for complying with the provisions of this Regent Policy Document, all subsequent policies and procedures developed by System Administration, and the principles, best practices and requirements described in Appendix A. In particular, UW chancellors are responsible for ensuring that a university’s MOU with its foundation requires the annual submission of financial statements and audits, to the university, consistent with the requirements of Appendix A, page 11, Periodic Reports and Accounting Requirements.
Related Regent Policies and Applicable Laws
Regent Policy Document 22-4, Fundraising Principles and Guidelines
History: Res. 10969, adopted 12/07/2017, created Regent Policy Document 21-9. Technical corrections to Appendix A made on 12/20/2018, as authorized by Res. 10835 (adopted 3/9/2017).