Princeton University Gift Policies

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Princeton University Gift Policies

Giving To Princeton University

The policies and practices outlined in this guide are intended to ensure that gifts to Princeton further the University’s mission and align with federal and state laws and University policies. The document provides donors and prospective donors with information about Princeton’s approach to seeking, accepting, documenting, and recognizing private philanthropic support.

Princeton is deeply grateful for the generosity of alumni, parents, and friends that allows the University to provide extraordinary education and conduct field-defining research. Gifts to Princeton help nurture the talents of students and faculty, build facilities to foster cross-disciplinary collaborations, establish new academic centers, and provide unrestricted resources to meet emerging needs and opportunities. The University’s unofficial motto finds expression in generations of philanthropic partnership; gifts to Princeton amplify its service to humanity.

Support for Princeton University takes many forms and involves people and institutions around the globe. A number of different University units seek support for Princeton:

Definition of Terms and Guiding Principles

A gift is a voluntary, irrevocable, gratuitous transfer to, and acceptance by, Princeton. Gifts may take the form of cash or cash equivalents, securities, property of value, or execution of an instrument that legally vests an interest of value in the University. In general, contributions to entities not legally controlled by Princeton, such as alumni associations, eating clubs, individual classes (e.g. dues), and the like, are not counted as gifts to the University.

Princeton only accepts gifts that are lawful and consistent with University policies. Gifts to the University must respect the University’s fundamental commitment to academic freedom and the rigorous and independent pursuit of truth. As such, gifts to Princeton do not provide donors with influence over the use and administration of their gifts, nor do gifts afford donors other kinds of influence in virtue of their gifts. Thus, Princeton will not accept a gift that provides a donor or third party with real or perceived influence over or special access with respect to the structure, process, content, or results of research, curriculum, and other academic activities. Moreover, Princeton will not accept a gift that provides a donor or third party with control with respect to its use or administration, including but not limited to the roles served by advisory boards, groups or committees and decisions regarding admissions, financial aid awards, hiring, faculty appointments and promotions, scholarly exhibitions or publications, research topics, and investment and expenditure.

University Advancement staff does not engage in gift conversations with any individual whose child or grandchild is known to be a high school senior, as of July 1 of the potential applicant’s senior year. Conversations can resume or begin after a final undergraduate admission decision is communicated to the student or it has been confirmed, after the application deadlines, that the student has not applied for admission.

Types of Gifts

Princeton accepts a variety of asset types and various methods of giving to support its talented students and faculty and impactful programs. Most donors to Princeton use checks, credit cards, or gifts of securities; some use Donor Advised Funds (DAFs); and those who live outside of the United States may leverage other mutually acceptable giving vehicles, such as the Princeton Charitable Foundation Limited in the United Kingdom or the Princeton Hong Kong Charitable Foundation Limited.

Gifts of art are handled by the Art Museum, and gifts of books and manuscripts by the Library. Gift Planning can answer questions about making other non-cash gifts, such as real estate or property. Donors are responsible for determining the tax-deductibility of non-cash gifts; it is recommended that they consult their own financial advisors or attorneys.

Gift Planning works with individuals who wish to support the University through deferred gifts, such as trusts, annuities, and bequests.

The chart found here describes the different kinds of gifts Princeton may accept and how they are credited, guided by CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education), FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) and GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) standards.

Term and Endowment Giving

Gifts to Princeton may be “term” or “endowed.”

  • Term (also known as expendable) gifts are available to be fully expended.
  • Endowed gifts are permanently invested as part of the University’s endowment to provide sustained support for Princeton. Endowment earnings from each fund may be spent, but the original gift principal of an endowment remains intact. Most endowment funds require a gift of at least $100,000, although unrestricted financial aid and fellowship funds may be established with a commitment of $50,000 or more.

The Board of Trustees has overall responsibility for the endowment, including but not limited to investment policy, as well as monitoring, adjusting and approving the annual endowment payout (or spending distribution). The Princeton University Investment Company (PRINCO), a department of the University, manages the endowment.

Decisions about the spending distribution rate aim to support today’s needs and sustain the long-term, intergenerational impact of the endowment. To defray a portion of the administrative and other indirect costs of endowed activities and ensure the purpose of the endowed funds can be realized in perpetuity, an annual Infrastructure and Administrative Charge (IAC) is assessed as a percentage of total distributed payout for each eligible endowment. The IAC charge is not applied to the principal of endowments, nor to term gifts. In addition, the overall endowment is subject to external investment-related fees and to a modest endowment service charge that covers direct internal costs related to managing the endowment. Further information can be found on the Office of Finance and Treasury’s website.

Restricted Gift Documentation and Naming

A written statement of gift purpose should accompany any contribution to Princeton to memorialize the intentions of the donor(s) and guide the University’s use of the gift. The University requires a “promise letter” to confirm commitments for restricted gifts and the University’s recognition of those gifts. A “gift agreement” is required to document all new endowment gifts. Both documents require the signatures of the donors and an authorized University gift acceptor.

  • Promise letters include a pledge to make a gift, describe the gift purpose and recognition, affirm donor citizenship, and establish the payment and reminder timeline – with standard multi-year commitments not exceeding five years.
  • Gift agreements specify the purposes for which the fund’s endowment payout is to be used and confirm details about the fund’s administration.

A cy pres, or “as near as possible,” clause in a gift agreement allows the University to use an endowed fund’s earnings for a purpose very closely akin to the original purpose, should the earnings not be needed for the original purpose in the future.

This paperwork also conveys the proposed name of the fund, program, position, or space associated with the gift. The Board of Trustees has authority over the naming of programs, positions, spaces, and the like, guided by the naming policy last amended in April 2021 and subject to periodic change. These policies strongly favor naming funds, programs, positions, and spaces for a donor, donor’s family members or friends, or donor class year. Donor-proposed names are thus subject to approval by the Trustees’ Committee on Advancement, once gift documentation has been completed.

The University honors donor preferences for anonymity, though the University must be aware of the identity of all donors and require that donors affirm their citizenship so that the University complies with legal requirements. A legal requirement to disclose a donor’s identity, citizenship, and possibly the amount and terms of the donor’s gift, supersedes any donor request to maintain anonymity. For example, the identity of donors and the gift amounts may be shared in a non¬public manner to comply with Internal Revenue Service or other regulatory disclosure requirements such as IRS Form 990 and Section 117 of the Higher Education Act.

In rare instances, donors are not able to complete their pledges to Princeton. The University, with consideration of specific circumstances, may modify or remove recognition for the unfulfilled commitment. In such cases, the University may rename the relevant fund, position, building, or space.

Venture Forward Campaign Counting Policies

All gifts and properly-documented pledges received between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2025 will be counted in the Venture Forward campaign; household cumulative giving of $250,000 and above, for any purpose, between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2017 will also count in Venture Forward.

Irrevocable annuities and trust interests, as well as realized bequests, are counted in the Venture Forward totals, using the above parameters. Princeton will provide campaign recognition for some properly documented bequest intentions, subject to particular conditions, from donors who are at least 75 years of age by June 30, 2025.

University Advancement Contacts

With the support and partnership of the Princeton community, Venture Forward will bring the University from the present to the possible. Princeton is tremendously grateful for the generosity of alumni, parents, and friends, and University Advancement welcomes outreach for further discussion:

General information phone number: +1.609.258.5273

Princeton University Advancement
100 Overlook Center, Suite 300
Princeton, New Jersey 08540, U.S.A.

Princeton’s legal name: Trustees of Princeton University
Princeton’s tax ID number (EIN): 21-0634501

For information about wire transfers, please contact:
Helen Hardy, Alumni and Donor Records, at +1.609.258.8283 or