effective date: 07.01.17

These procedures set forth University requirements for recognizing gifts/charitable contributions in the form of cash, including checks, credit cards, or other forms of currency.

These procedures encompass:

  • Gift Characteristics and Gift Determination (defining qualities of gifts/charitable contributions)
  • Gift Recognition Basis (fund accounting policies)

For specific gift handling (including deposit) procedures, see the Accounting Handbook chapter on Gift/Charitable Contribution Processing.


For procedures to handle non-cash gifts/gifts in kind, see the Accounting Handbook chapter on Gift In Kind.

Gift Characteristics

In general, gift revenues arise when an item of value is given to the University by a donor, and the donor neither expects nor receives anything of economic value in return, except as included with fundraising events or life income arrangements. The University provides the donor with nothing other than recognition of the gift and disposition of the gift in accordance with the donor's wishes. Thus, for example, the donor does not receive goods or services – e.g., admission to a charity ball, banquet, theatrical performance, or sporting event – as a result of the gift. If the donor does receive goods or services as a result of the gift, then the gift revenue will be considered to be the difference between the fair market value of what was received by the donor and the value of the original gift given by the donor.

  • For information on handling fundraising events, see the Accounting Handbook chapter on Fundraising Events.
  • For information on processing life income arrangements, wills, bequests, and other written transfers of title, contact the Office of Gift Planning and Leadership Giving.

Gift Determination

The Decision Matrix for Distinguishing Gift, Sponsored Project, Auxiliary and Self-funded, and Fundraising Event Revenues provides guidance on determining the nature of a specific award.

Organizational units should process financial support to the University as a gift if it meets all of the following criteria:

  • The donor specifically indicates a charitable donation as reflected by the characteristics of the instrument providing the financial support.
  • Any conditions or stipulations placed on the intended use of the award are reasonable and serve only to direct the funds to specific mission-related functions, such as faculty support, programmatic support, scholarships, capital construction, or general research support.
  • The donor intends for the financial support to be irrevocable and, therefore, relinquishes the right to reclaim the monies or any unused remainder as long as the monies are used as directed.
  • The donor offers the financial support without expectation of direct economic benefit or other tangible benefit commensurate with the worth of the support, except as permitted for fundraising events or life income arrangements.

Indirect Benefits

Indirect benefits such as tax advantages, business, or personal goodwill derived from close association with the University do not negate gift intent.

Payment to support a CU institute, center, or program may be processed as a gift even if it includes one or more of the following benefits:

  • The opportunity to attend meetings to provide advice to the institute, center, or program.
  • The opportunity to interact with students.
  • The opportunity to receive periodic materials that update the donor about the activities of the respective center, institute, or program.
  • The opportunity to attend presentations or award luncheons/dinners.

For questions about the tax deductibility of gifts with indirect benefits, contact the Director of Tax in the Office of University Controller.

Non-Gift Revenue Payments

An organizational unit may attach a gift component to a non-gift revenue payment. For example, a $150 ticket to attend a fundraising event may include a gift component. In these instances, the ticket price must be split between the non-deductible amount (fair market value of the event, e.g., $80 for a seated dinner with entertainment) and the deductible amount (amount above the FMV, in this case, $70).

For questions about the tax deductibility of gifts with non-gift portions, contact the Fundraising Events & Gift Compliance Specialist in the Office of University Controller.

Recognition Basis

When the cash is received, all gift revenues must be classified as Non Operating Revenues, unless the gifts are restricted for capital assets (land, buildings, building improvements, equipment, and library and other collections), which must be classified as capital revenues. For advice on how to classify gift revenues as capital revenues, contact the appropriate campus controller.

Accruals, receivables, or deferrals of gifts are not common and should be approved by the appropriate campus controller.


Questions about these procedures should be directed to the appropriate campus controller, who will consult with the Associate Vice President/University Controller as appropriate.

Contact Information: Campus Controller/Finance Offices

Related Policies & Procedures

  • Accounting Handbook Fundraising Events
  • Accounting Handbook Gift/Charitable Contribution Processing
  • Accounting Handbook Gift in Kind

Other Resources

  • Decision Matrix for Distinguishing Gift, Sponsored Project, Auxiliary and Self-Funded, and Fundraising Event Revenues