Naming Gifts-University Policies - Carnegie Mellon University

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Naming Gifts

Policy Title Naming Gifts Policy
Policy Owner Vice President for University Advancement
Responsible Office

University Advancement, Advancement Programs and Services

Contact Information Questions concerning this Policy or its intent should be directed to the Associate Vice President for Advancement Programs and Services, Division of University Advancement; 412-268-2620.
Pertinent Dates This Policy was approved on August 18, 2016, and updated on July 1, 2017.
Approved By The president of Carnegie Mellon University.
Entities Affected By This Policy

Individuals, foundations, non-profit organizations, businesses/corporations, and other entities that make charitable contributions to the university

Who Needs To Know About This Policy This Policy governs gift officers and other Carnegie Mellon University employees who interact directly with donors and prospective donors.

This Policy will also be relevant to donors and prospective donors as part of pertinent gift discussions, as well as management partners such as the president, provost, deans, and other university leaders who play important roles in the university’s fundraising efforts.

Other university parties impacted by this Policy include team members in Campus Design and Facility Development, Finance, and Marketing and Communications, as well as unit business managers and general University Advancement staff.
Definitions Donor: An individual, foundation, non-profit organization, business/corporation, or other entity that makes a charitable contribution to the university.

Charitable Contribution/Gift: As stated by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a donation or gift to, or for the use of, a qualified organization. The gift is voluntary and is made without receiving, or expecting to receive, anything of equal value. Note: Carnegie Mellon University is qualified as a charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code.

Reinvestment: An endowed fund status whereby all of the fund's income is reinvested in the fund's corpus.

Distribution: An endowed fund status whereby a portion of the fund's income is distributed for spending, in accordance with the university's endowed-fund spending practices and policies as they are adopted and revised from time to time by the university's Board of Trustees.
Forms / Instructions n/a
Related Information

Gift Acceptance, Counting, and Reporting Policy

Public Art Policy

Reason for Policy / Purpose

The Naming Gifts Policy helps ensure that gifts with associated naming rights are managed in a consistent manner, and according to established university guidelines. It is also designed to provide donors with equitable, consistent, and appropriate recognition and stewardship for their generous support, leading to lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with the university. This Policy applies to all naming gifts secured by the university, not just those managed by University Advancement.

Abstract In recognition and appreciation of their generosity, donors who make certain types of charitable contributions to Carnegie Mellon University may be offered the opportunity to select the name of the program, facility, position, or entity being funded by their gifts.

The Policy outlines the types of gifts that may carry naming rights, and provides information related to the minimum amount required for specific naming gifts, name approval and duration, donor recognition, and other terms.


Policy Statement

  1. Applicability

    This Policy applies to gifts with associated naming opportunities at the university as a form of recognition for the contributions of individuals or organizations to the university.

  2. Types of Funds with Potential Naming Opportunities
    1. Endowed:  Endowed funds are designed to provide perpetual support to a designated area. To establish a named endowed fund, a gift must meet the funding minimum set by the Board of Trustees. For current university named endowed fund minimums, contact the Office of the Vice President for University Advancement.
    2. Non-endowed: In certain circumstances, current-use commitments can qualify for a naming opportunity. Many gifts to name physical entities are in this category.
  3. Standard Designations for Naming Gifts
    1. Physical Entity:
      1. Buildings and other major facilities, discrete components of buildings (wings, lecture halls, auditoriums, foyers, classrooms, laboratories, studios, offices, conference rooms, etc.), athletic facilities, and residence halls.
      2. Campus grounds, outdoor renovations, gardens, trees, fountains, benches, walkways, parking facilities, and other real property.
      3. Libraries, or parts of libraries, and other collections of significant size and continuing educational, scientific, historic, artistic, or cultural value.
    2. Non-Physical Entity:
      1. Colleges, schools, departments, institutes, centers, programs, teaching awards, and prizes.
      2. Academic or non-academic positions, including but not limited to deanships, professorships, directorships, and lectureships.
      3. Student support, including but not limited to scholarships, fellowships, and other student awards.
  4. General Terms
    1. Naming of a university asset or entity must be made in accordance with this Policy and related procedures, and meet all terms of the university's Gift Acceptance, Counting, and Reporting Policy.
    2. The donor may select the name of the entity being funded, so long as the criteria set forth in this Policy are met, and university approval is granted. Factors that may be considered by the university in determining the appropriateness of a name include:
      1. Consistency with the mission, vision, reputation, and values of the university.
      2. Whether a name may imply the university's endorsement of a political or ideological position or the use of a particular product or service.
      3. Potential conflict of interest (primarily in cases of corporate or organizational naming gifts).
      4. Whether the name reinforces the university's branding standards.
      5. Potential conflict with existing named entities or spaces.
    3. Naming gifts do not confer the right to the donor to determine the use of the fund (e.g., the purpose or use of the named space, specific beneficiary of a student or faculty support fund, program curricula, and/or research outcomes).
    4. A named entity may not be announced by any university unit prior to final approval as required by this Policy.
  5. Naming Gift Values
    1. Endowed Funds:
      1. The Board of Trustees establishes the minimum gift amount required to create each type of named endowed fund. Such minimums are important to ensure the endowed fund provides sufficient funds to accomplish the purpose intended by the donor.
      2. Minimum gift amounts for named endowed funds will be amended by the Board of Trustees from time to time, to correspond with real costs.
      3. In some cases, the name of an endowed fund may be different from the name used publicly for the entity the fund supports. In such instances, both the name of the fund and the name to be used publicly will be detailed in the associated gift agreement.
      4. For current university named endowed fund minimums, contact the Office of the Vice President for University Advancement.
    2. Current-use Funds:
      1. In general, named current-use funds adhere to the same fund minimums required to create named endowed funds. Exceptions to this standard are rare, and are only granted by the Vice President for University Advancement, in consultation with the President as needed.
      2. In some cases, the name of a current-use fund may be different from the name used publicly for the entity the fund supports. In such instances, both the name of the fund and the name to be used publicly will be detailed in the associated gift agreement.
    3. Physical Entities:
      1. Once a new building, expansion, or renovation has been approved by the university, the value of associated naming gifts will be determined by University Advancement, in consultation with the President. This applies to spaces both within and outside buildings.
      2. Similarly, the value of associated naming gifts for existing university spaces will be determined by University Advancement, in consultation with the President.
  6. Distributions from Endowed Funds Created through Gifts
    1. Typically, an endowed fund will remain in reinvestment status until the fund reaches the university’s required endowed fund minimum for an endowment of that specific type, unless the donor agreement stipulates the fund should remain in reinvestment until a minimum greater than the university’s required endowed fund minimum is reached. Accumulated earnings and fund additions designated by the university, such as reinvested income, do not count toward meeting the required endowed fund minimum (i.e., only gifts count toward meeting the endowed fund minimum).
    2. This provision notwithstanding, the university leader responsible for administering such an endowed fund (e.g., president, provost, dean, vice president, or the designee of that leader) may request to convert the endowed fund to distribution status when the endowment reaches the minimum amount required by the university to establish an endowed fund, as adopted and revised from time to time by the university's Board of Trustees, or when the university has received one-fourth of the value of the gift that established the endowed fund, whichever is greater.
    3. A request for early conversion of an endowed fund from reinvestment to distribution should be submitted to the Vice President for University Advancement (UA), or his/her designee, who will confirm that the request is not inconsistent with any gift agreements pertaining to the fund. UA Donor Relations will then work with the university’s Finance division to convert the endowed fund to distribution status.
    4. A request for early conversion of an endowed fund from reinvestment to distribution that does not meet the threshold set in paragraph VI. b. above may be submitted to the Vice President for University Advancement, who will, in consultation with the Provost and Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer, determine whether to grant the request.
  7. Naming Approval and Timing of Naming Activation
    1. The Vice President for University Advancement manages the naming approval process, in consultation with the President and Board of Trustees, as appropriate. (Note:  Requests for non-gift-related honorific namings at the university must be directed to the Office of the Provost.)
    2. Name approval may not be granted until the proposed name is known. If the donor does not wish to select the name to be applied when the gift is made, the university may accept the gift, with the name determined later, subject to the terms of approval outlined in this Policy.
    3. For binding, irrevocable gifts, a name may go into effect before the gift is paid in full, at the discretion of the Vice President for University Advancement, in consultation with necessary university parties.
    4. For non-binding, revocable gifts, a name will not be activated until the gift is received.
  8. Donor Recognition
    1. The university places great value on recognizing and showing appreciation to donors for their generosity. Therefore, in addition to providing naming rights for eligible gifts, other methods of recognition may be applied, such as those outlined below. It is highly important that recognition be equitable and consistent based on gift type, amount, and designation, and that it adhere to established university standards.
    2. Physical Recognition:
      1. Gifts to name a physical entity or college, school, department, center, or institute will typically be recognized via signage, plaques, displays, or other physical installations.
      2. The nature and attributes of the physical recognition will be: commensurate to the level and type of gift; designed in accordance with university standards; and aligned with the features of the intended placement location.
      3. Corporate or organization logos may not be incorporated into recognition signage without approval of the Vice President for University Advancement, in consultation with the President.
      4. Physical donor recognition items must be approved by the donor and appropriate university representatives prior to production and installation, and may not be installed until the terms outlined in this Policy have been met.
    3. Other Recognition:
      1. Naming gift donors may also be recognized via other means (e.g., events and media announcements), corresponding with the type, amount, and purpose of the gift.
      2. If any works of art are associated with the gift or donor recognition, the Public Art Policy must be followed.
  9. Duration of Naming
    1. Naming is generally granted for the useful life of the entity unless otherwise specified in the gift agreement (and subject to the terms of revocation as set forth in this Policy).
    2. For current-use gifts, naming terms, including duration, shall be set forth in writing by the university and donor.
    3. If circumstances change so that the purpose for which the named entity was established is or needs to be significantly altered, is no longer needed/ceases to exist, or if a physical entity is replaced, significantly renovated or no longer habitable, the university will consult with the donor if possible, or the donor's estate, if practicable, to determine an appropriate way to recognize the original naming gift.
  10. Revocation of Naming
    1. The university may revoke a naming if any of the following conditions occurs:
      1. The pledge obligation is unfulfilled and/or written off (if partial funding was received that is sufficient for an alternative naming opportunity, the terms of this Policy shall govern any renegotiation for a suitable naming).
      2. The university determines that its association with the donor will materially damage the reputation of the university.
      3. A change in family or organizational circumstances causes the donor or other affected individual(s)/organization(s) to request a name change or revocation.
    2. Revocation decisions shall be made by the President based on the recommendation of the Vice President for University Advancement. The President will determine whether the Board of Trustees should be consulted.
    3. The university shall make all reasonable efforts to inform the original donor or the donor's heirs/designees in advance of any revocation or change.
  11. Special Circumstances and Exceptions

    Any special circumstances or requests for exceptions must be referred to the Vice President for University Advancement, who will determine the course of action, which may include consultation with the President.