Accounting for Gifts

Gifts Received by the University

Gifts are defined as funds received from external sources that are “donative” in nature. The intent of the gift is philanthropic and without the expectation of any “compensation.” The donor does not receive goods or services in exchange for donations made to the University. Gifts are donated to the University from various sources such as trustees, faculty/staff, alumni and friends, corporations and foundations. Deposits [PDF] are made through the Treasurer’s Office.

If the gift is made with no restrictions on how it may be spent, it is called an unrestricted gift and the funds may be used for any business purpose.

However, donors often place restrictions on how the funds they donate may be spent by the University.

  • Temporarily Restricted – If a donor places a restriction on a donation (ex: the gift is to be used to fund a mathematics classroom in a new building that is under construction), then the gift would be classified as a temporarily restricted asset until the restriction is met (i.e., the building is complete, and the new mathematics classroom can be furnished)
  • Permanently Restricted – An example of a permanently restricted donation would be when the University receives an endowment gift where the principal cannot be spent, but the earnings may be spent. The earnings on the endowment then may represent an increase in unrestricted net assets, if the donor did not restrict the spending of the earnings.

The office of Restricted Accounting ensures all donor restrictions are met when charges are made to the restricted chartstring. Fund 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19 are all used for restricted accounting.

  • Fund 15 – Unrestricted Gift Funded
  • Fund 16 – Unrestricted Endowment Funded
  • Fund 17 – Temporarily Restricted Gift Funded
  • Fund 18 – Temporarily Restricted Endowment Funded
  • Fund 19 – Permanently Restricted Gift or Endowment Funded

In addition to outright gifts, the University receives other types of gifts:

  • Pledges: A documented commitment to Syracuse University to receive future charitable contributions from employees, other individuals, companies or foundations. In order to record a pledge include the donor’s signature, the pledge amount, payment schedule and the designation, if known.
  • Gifts in Kind: Non-cash gifts or gifts of non-monetary items of tangible property such as art, equipment, consumables and real estate. The donor must provide information about the valuation and how it was determined before it can be recorded as a charitable gift.
  • Securities: Publicly traded, stocks, and bonds may be donated by delivering the fully executed securities to Syracuse University or by transferring the securities electronically through the brokerage firm(s) of the donor and SU
  • Bequests: An individual’s charitable contribution from their estate at the time of their death. There are several types of bequests or deferred gifts and many have tax benefits for the donor
  • Deferred Gifts: The benefit of a gift is not actually realized until some point in the future. Examples of deferred gifts are charitable gift annuities, charitable trusts, charitable remainder trusts and life estates.
  • Matching Gifts: Gifts made to SU from companies or foundations that have agreed to match charitable contributions made by the employees or trustees

Unit Responsibilities

  1. Understand the purpose of the restrictions.
  2. Ensure that the expenditures meet the purpose of the gift.
  3. If unspent gifts exist, review at least annually why they are not being spent.  There should be a plan to spend restricted funds within a reasonable time frame and if necessary, work with the Office of Budget and Planning regarding usage plans.
  4. Ensure that restricted gifts are not overspent.