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4.2.1 Receiving and Processing Gifts

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Approved by the Vice President for Development.
Last Updated

Formerly Known As Policy Number: 42

This Guide Memo describes the various types of gifts accepted by Stanford University and the procedures for handling them.

1. General Procedures

a. Prompt Delivery of Gifts

All gifts arriving at or transferred to any part of the university should be initiated in the Gift Transmittal system by a trained user, and then be sent on the same day the gift is received to the Development Services department in the Office of Development, 326 Galvez Street, mail code 5018. Alternately, gifts may be sent to the local development offices in the schools and departments across campus. Gifts to the School of Medicine should always be sent directly to Medical Center Development. Gifts should never be sent to the Controller's Office, Fund Accounting, or the Cashier's Office.

For gifts of equipment, see Guide Memo 4.2.3: Records of Donated Equipment.

b. Required Documentation

In all cases, the university unit that has received the gift must follow these steps:

  • Scan all original correspondence pertaining to a gift, including the envelope and/or shipping label. The postmarked envelope will ensure the proper gift date is verified and recorded by Development Services.
  • Initiate a Gift Transmittal. An authorized Gift User may go to the system and login using SUNet ID and password. Instructions are available on the Fingate website.
  • Complete the Gift Transmittal form as appropriate. Instructions for authorized users are on the Fingate website.The office forwarding the gift can save the scanned documents for their records through the fiscal year, but please note that this is optional and that once posted to PostGrads, documents should be deleted from local files.
  • Any questions should be directed to Development Services, (650) 725-4360 or

c. Donor Record Files

The Office of Development maintains complete donor records, including all university alumni and friends, as well as corporations and foundations that support the university. Original donor correspondence and copies of all university correspondence pertaining to gifts should be sent to the Office of Development, Development Services. The Office of Development will forward gift documents to the Fund Accounting section of the Controller's Office as appropriate.

2. Types of Gifts

a. Cash

Do not send cash through interdepartmental or other mail service. Call Development Services (650) 725-4360 for instructions.

b. Checks

Checks should be forwarded to Development Services (326 Galvez Street, mail code: 5018) immediately for prompt deposit after initiating the Gift Transmittal (see above). Holding checks results in lost interest earnings for the university and, if not cashed in a reasonable amount of time, may eventually result in invalidation. All checks $5,000 or more should be hand-carried to the Arrillaga Alumni Center or put in a secure lockbox on the Edwards building or on the Memorial Drive side of the Alumni Center for courier pick-up.

c. Securities

Stock certificates received by a school or department should be forwarded to the Gift Securities team immediately for prompt processing. If stock certificates are received in the mail the postmarked envelope must be included so that the Gift Securities team can determine the correct date for valuing the shares and dating the gift receipt. If stock certificates are received via private courier (e.g., UPS, Federal Express, DHL), the department must include a memo stating when the envelope was received in the department. The university will, in almost all cases, sell the securities through its brokers after they are received.

(1) Delivery of Securities

The transfer of securities to Stanford may be accomplished in several ways:

(i) Broker-to-Broker Transfer: 

Donors should instruct their broker to transfer securities intended for Stanford to the university by contacting the Gift Securities team in the Controller’s Office (ph # 650-721-1917, fax # 650-721-2417, email:, who will provide instructions for the donor’s broker to initiate the gift transfer. A copy of any gift transmittal letter or other related correspondence should be sent immediately to the Gift Securities team.

(ii) Mail:

Endorsed certificates naming Stanford University (or the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University) as transferee may be sent by regular mail (certified mail recommended) to:

By USPS or Courier (FedEx, UPS, or other overnight delivery): Stanford University-Gift Securities Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center
c/o Development Services – Attn: Gift Securities
326 Galvez Street
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-6105

(iii) Hand Delivery:

 Endorsed certificates naming Stanford University (or the Board...) as transferee may be delivered by hand to any of the following locations:

Office of Development
Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center
c/o Development Services – Attn: Gift Securities
326 Galvez Street
Stanford University
Stanford, California 94305-6105


Stanford University – Gift Securities 
Stanford Redwood City Campus 
485 Broadway – University Hall (U250.12) 
Redwood City, CA 94063

(2) Certificate in Excess of Gift

If a donor's stock certificate represents a greater number of shares than the number of shares the donor intends to gift to the university, then please contact the Gift Securities team for further instructions. This transaction requires special handling and several documents to permit Stanford’s brokerage firm to manage the transfer and re-registration of the shares not intended as the gift. 
Gift Securities team 
Phone: 650-721-1917
Fax:     650-721-2417

d. Credit Cards

Donors may charge gifts to their Mastercard, Visa, Discover Card or American Express credit cards by indicating in writing the amount of the gift, their credit card number, the date of its expiration, and their signature (as the name appears on the credit card). If a Stanford employee receives credit card information intended for a gift, they should send it to Development Services via the Office of Development courier service, fax it via the secure fax number (650) 725-0200, put the information in the one of the two gift drop boxes on campus (located at the Alumni Center and the Edwards building) or hand-carry it to the Alumni Center. Donors or staff may also call Development Services at (650) 725-4360 to make a credit card gift. DO NOT email credit card information or send it via campus mail as both of these options have serious potential for security risks.

e. Electronic Transfers

Donors may make gifts to the university through three types of electronic transfer.

(1) Wire Transfer

A donor who wishes to make a gift via wire transfer into a Stanford account must contact Development Services to obtain current instructions and to make sure the appropriate university personnel are alerted to the transaction. Instructions for wire transfers can be found here:

(2) Payroll Deduction

Stanford employees may authorize a set amount to be deducted from their paychecks as a gift to Stanford. To arrange for payroll deduction gifts Stanford employees should contact Development Services, which will make arrangements with the Payroll Department. Employees wishing to change, renew, or cancel payroll deduction gifts should send a written request to Development Services.

(3) Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) or Direct Deposit

Donors may authorize a set amount to be automatically withdrawn from their checking or savings accounts as a gift to Stanford. To arrange for EFT gifts donors should contact Development Services. Instructions for EFT gifts can be found here: 

f. Memorial and Honorarium Gifts

In most cases, the university uses memorial gifts (i.e., contributions made in memory of someone who has passed away) to support the objects and purposes of the university; honorarium gifts made in honor of a special event or living person are handled in the same way. If an alternative purpose is preferred, a separate memorial or named fund may be established through the Office of Development.

g. Gifts of Real or Personal Property

If a gift of real estate or an item of personal property is offered to Stanford it is important that the proper university department or official determine whether the university is able to accept it. Such decisions are made according to established university policies and guidelines according to the type of gift.

(1) Real Estate Gifts

The Office of Planned Giving, (650) 725-4358, and the Director of Gift Real Estate in the Real Estate department within Land, Buildings & Real Estate should be notified of a donor's intent to make a gift of real property to the university. The Director of Gift Real Estate must first inspect the property and determine that the property may be accepted by the university. The staff in the Office of Planned Giving will then obtain any necessary Board of Trustees approval, draft requisite documents, make arrangements for title to be transferred to the university and for the gift to be credited in Development Services, and work with the donor regarding the Internal Revenue Service Form 8283. The staff in the Office of Planned Giving is available to respond to donors’ tax and other related questions.

(2) Gifts in Kind (Tangible Personal Property)

(i) Categories
  • Equipment: See Guide Memo 4.2.3: Records of Donated Equipment.
  • Artifacts, specimens, and historical objects for departmental special collections: see Guide Memo 4.2.4: Departmental Special Collections.
  • Gifts of Personal Property for Resale: Gifts of personal property intended for resale should not be accepted unless it is determined that the item is appropriate for the University to resell. Examples include gifts made for the Committee for Art's Treasure Market or for a rummage sale to benefit a particular department or project. Questions about the salability of items not earmarked for a specific sales event may be directed to the Property Management Office.
(ii) Prior Consultation

The Office of Planned Giving should be contacted prior to accepting gifts in kind to make sure that the donor has been apprised of tax deductibility and IRS substantiation requirements, and to assist in drafting any agreements with the donor relating to the gift. Development Services must then be notified in order for the donor to obtain a gift receipt unless previously arranged procedures have been established for the unit (e.g., University Libraries, Treasure Market) to issue its own receipt.

(iii) Delivery Arrangements

Gifts in kind that Stanford plans to keep and use are usually delivered directly to the relevant school, department, laboratory, library, or museum that has previously approved the item's acceptance and is where the item will be housed. Preliminary arrangements may also include agreements regarding costs of packing and freight charges, which are usually the responsibility of the donor.

(iv) Recording

Except for donated capital equipment, gifts in kind are not normally recorded in the donor's gift record nor in the University's accounting system; contact the Office of Planned Giving, (650) 725-4358, for information about exceptions for crediting gifts in kind to a donor's record.

h. Special Types of Gifts

(1) Life Income Gifts

Donors may arrange to make a gift to Stanford that will pay them and/or a designated beneficiary an income for life or for a term of years. After the death of the last beneficiary or expiration of the term of years, the gift remainder is used by the university as specified by the donor. Contact the Office of Planned Giving for further information and/or to arrange for a consultation with a donor and their advisor(s).

(2) Bargain Sales

Under some circumstances, the university may provide some cash consideration below market value to a donor in exchange for a gift of real or personal property. Offers to sell art objects, equipment, securities, real estate, etc. to Stanford at a substantially discounted price should be referred to the Office of Planned Giving. The amount of the gift recorded by Development Services will be the difference between the fair market value and the discounted price.

(3) Life Insurance

Donors may make life insurance gifts in a number of ways:

  1. by naming the university as the beneficiary of the policy;
  2. by transferring ownership of a paid-up policy to the university;
  3. by transferring ownership of a policy to the university and making periodic gifts to the university to cover payment of the policy premiums. Stanford does not make premium payments from sources other than gifts intended for such purposes. The tax ramifications of life insurance gifts are complicated; questions should be referred to the Office of Planned Giving.

(4) Bequests

Since its founding, Stanford has derived significant and ongoing support from bequest gifts. Names of donors who have confirmed that a bequest for Stanford is included in their will or trust should be forwarded to the Office of Planned Giving along with any known details of the gift.  The Office of Planned Giving operates The Founding Grant Society, which recognizes and honors those who have made life income gifts or who have indicated that a bequest to the University is included in their estate plans. Staff counsel in the Office of Planned Giving are available to consult with donors and their advisors in the drafting of bequests to the University. Information about or questions concerning any bequest gift that has matured should be immediately referred to the Manager of Trusts and Bequests in the Office of Planned Giving (650/725‑4358).

(5) Matching Programs

This section does not pertain to Corporate Matching Gifts, which are addressed below in subsection (6).

An important consideration with matching programs is our ability to steward gifts that provide and receive matching by ensuring that the process works correctly and in a timely manner. The administrative effort involved is significant, and we want to be certain that existing and new programs are structured in a way that can be implemented effectively. Consult with the Office of Development Finance Department if you are considering a new matching program or think a fund should qualify for some sort of match. The Finance team needs to understand the desired ratios and timing and can help to structure the program.

Matching funds should be separated and only used for matching purposes. Please be aware that with existing matching automation, when the matching source is an endowment fund, transfers can only take place from endowment principal.

All new matching programs must be approved by the Vice President for Development, so please be sure you have approval before committing to a matching program with a donor.

(6) Corporate Matching Gifts

Donors or their spouses may work for, serve on the board of, or be retired from, a company that will match their gifts to Stanford. Donors should follow their company's procedures, which usually involve filling out a form and sending it to Stanford with their gift. Departments or other units that receive any corporate matching forms MUST forward the forms to Development Services in the Office of Development, 326 Galvez Street, mail code 5018, and should NOT sign the forms themselves or return them to the company. Only Development Services is authorized to verify to a company that a gift qualifies for matching funds.

3. Year-end Gifts

a. Tax-Year End

During the month of December the volume of gifts to be processed increases sharply. Departments or other units receiving gifts during this very busy time of year should expedite delivery of gifts to Development Services and should take steps (described below) to verify the date of the gift so that the receipt issued by Development Services to the donor will reflect the proper date for the donor's tax purposes. The gift receipt will bear a December date even when the gift is processed in January if the gift is received in Development Services on or before December 31 or if the date is verified in one of the following ways:

(1) Hand Delivery

Gifts may be delivered to any Stanford representative on or before December 31 in order to be treated as a gift made during that tax year. The Stanford representative should provide the donor with a signed and dated memo acknowledging receipt for securities or cash, keeping a copy to send to Development Services, 326 Galvez Street, mail code 5018, with the gift. In addition, the Stanford representative should sign or initial a notation of the date the gift was delivered directly on the check, or on the remit or any correspondence accompanying the gift.

(2) Postmarks

The date of receipt for gifts received by mail is the postmark date that appears on the envelope. Therefore during December and early January it is especially important to include the postmarked envelope along with the gift when forwarding it to Development Services.

(3) Transfers

Broker to broker transfers of securities and wire transfers of cash must be completed and the transferred property must be in Stanford's account by December 31 to count as a gift for that tax year.

b. Fiscal Year-End

The university fiscal year ends August 31. To be reflected in the university's record for a given fiscal year, gifts must be received in Development Services by 2:00 p.m. on the last working day of the fiscal year. Gifts processed later, even if dated before August 31, will be entered in the University's records in the following fiscal year. After the end of the fiscal year, requests for corrections to gift records should be made to Development Services at, who will in turn coordinate the necessary journal entries with Fund Accounting.