Institutional Advancement And The Law

Advancement personnel significantly affect the endowment, fundraising, alumni programs and are responsible for establishing and maintaining good relationships with the college or university's constituencies. Accordingly, it is in the interest of the college that advancement personnel understand the law and take appropriate preventive actions.
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This series of essays is designed to educate and inform institutional advancement administrators and staff about the legal implications of decisions they make. Knowing the law and adopting preventive measures is the best way to cope with the law and prevent legal challenges and reduce exposure.

Advancement personnel often make or participate in decisions that can lead to litigation. For example, advancement personnel counsel and advise donors; recommend, develop and implement fundraising projects; manage alumni programs; produce publications and represent the institution to the public; employ personnel; and establish policies regarding the institution’s acceptance of gifts. In sum, advancement personnel significantly affect the endowment, fundraising, public relations, alumni programs, and are responsible for establishing and maintaining good relationships with the college or university’s constituencies.

In all of these roles—manager, spokesperson, goodwill ambassador, fundraiser, cheerleader, publicist, and employer—advancement personnel make critical decisions that can generate litigation. Accordingly, it is in the interest of the college that advancement personnel understand the law and take appropriate preventive actions.

In their capacity as governors of the institution and its endowment, trustees are required to follow strict standards of loyalty and care in carrying out their fiduciary duties to the college or university. Adherence to these standards is critical and a violation of this trust can have serious consequences for the institution.

This manual on institutional advancement focuses on:

  • Collecting and Enforcing Gifts

  • Developing Gift Policy

  • Managing Endowment and Trustee Duties

  • Managing Alumni Organizations

  • Public Relations and the Legal Environment

  • Liability and Training of Volunteers

  • Defamation and Invasion of Privacy

  • Hiring and Retention

  • Sexual Harassment

  • Publishing and Copyright

  • Record Retention

Each of these essays is presented with a common format: Overview, Application, and Preventive Planning. A Selected Bibliography follows each topic. Also included in the Appendix are sample policies, the Volunteer Protection Act, and several uniform laws.

Table of Contents

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