Code of practice: University philanthropic activity

DATE: June 2005, revised May 2012, June 2020

Last update: December 2020. reference added to the University's Statement on Academic Freedom

REFERENCE AUTHORITY: Vice Chancellor &  President

The University of South Australia: Statement of Academic Freedom
UniSA Council Policy C-3.1: Naming and Naming Rights
UniSA Council Policy A-50: Coursework Scholarships and Prizes
UniSA Code of Ethical Conduct
UniSA Council Policy C-25.1: Art Collection Policy
Guidelines for the acceptance by the University of South Australia of third-party sponsorship and advertising
Foundation Committee of Council, Investment Policy


Context statement

University philanthropic activity has a long history and an increasingly important future. Universities have always sought support in various forms of the communities within which they operate. This support is becoming more important as the role of universities as leaders of the intellectual, economic and social development of their communities increases.

As Australia’s University of Enterprise, the University of South Australia is a university with a distinguished history. Its alumni date back to the earliest days of the South Australian colony and the continued engagement of the University with its graduates is critical to the creation of a distinguished and evolving higher education culture. Similarly, engagement and collaboration with relevant professional associations and industry and private sector bodies is a critical element in advancing the mission of the University of South Australia. As these collaborations and engagements increase and move beyond state and national borders, it is important that the framework within which they operate is clear and widely understood within the institution.

This Code of Practice should be read in conjunction with the University’s Statement on Academic Freedom.

1. Objective

The objective of this code of practice is to provide guidance to University staff and potential donors and partners as to the conduct of philanthropic activities within UniSA. In particular, this code is intended to assist understanding of the University’s Advancement and Fundraising Committee in supporting University advancement activity, the University Finance Committee and its role in respect of management of philanthropic funds, and the rights and obligations of donors and University staff involved in philanthropic activities.

2. Definitions

2.1. Advancement refers to the broad discipline of relationship marketing and management that involves the University and its alumni, community and industry supporters in philanthropic activity for the purpose of advancing the standing, resources and performance of the University.

2.2. Gift refers to an in kind or financial contribution that is provided without the expectation of personal or commercial benefit. Research grants or contracts are not considered gifts although stewardship of the relationship with an external partner to a contract might be considered within the framework of advancement activities.

2.3. Naming rights refers to the naming of structures, facilities or academic positions in honour of an individual or organisation, or in recognition of financial contribution and support.

2.4. Note: references to ‘Academic Units’ shall be taken to include Research Institutes, UniSA Online and regional campuses.

3. Principles

The following principles set the framework for development activities within UniSA.

3.1. The focus of advancement activity is on furthering the mission of the University and its contribution to the community.

3.2. The University’s Advancement and Fundraising Committee is the oversight committee of the University for philanthropic activity.

Gifts and funds raised for the University should be administered through the University Finance Committee.

3.3 The rights of the donor will be respected, particularly encompassing such issues as the use of funds, confidentiality criteria and promotion of any relationship with the University.
The wishes of the donor should be clearly understood and documented.

3.4. Advancement activities will involve a balance of benefit between the donor and the University.

3.5. All University advancement activity will comply with relevant legislation, such as privacy and consumer protection laws, as well as relevant codes and guidelines applicable to the communities within which it operates.

3.6. The University will support the administration of advancement activities and no portion of gifts made or funds raised will be used for administrative purposes unless specifically negotiated.
The University levy, for example, does not apply to gifts and the University supports ongoing advancement activity from its recurrent budget.

3.7. The University will regularly report on advancement activity and communicate on an ongoing basis with its donors and supporters.
Advancement activities should be transparent: the University Advancement and Fundraising Committee provides regular reports to the Council, and the benefits derived from gifts should be routinely communicated to donors.
3.8. The University reserves the right to decline any gift.
The University is an Australian public institution with an established mission and values and ethical codes, for example, in regard to its research activity. Gifts and development activities should be congruent with this culture.

3.9. Advancement activities are pursued for the benefit of the University and individual staff members are representatives of the University.
Although activities might benefit one particular area of the University, staff involved in advancement activities should recognise potential opportunities for other areas and be conscious of the impact of one initiative on the progress of another.

4. Authorities and oversight

4.1. The Vice Chancellor accepts gifts on behalf of the University and may delegate this authority to other University staff

4.2. The chair of the University Finance Committee has responsibility for the oversight of the philanthropic funds under its management. The Finance Committee monitors trust and gift arrangements, financial performance, the distribution of funds raised, and establishes appropriate legal, financial and administrative structures to support development activity.

4.3. The Vice Chancellor is responsible for the strategic direction and priorities of advancement programs within the University.

4.4. The Director Advancement, reporting to the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, has operational responsibility for University advancement activity. The Advancement Office's role is to coordinate fundraising campaigns, provide recognition and stewardship of donors, administer gifts and support the operation of the Advancement and Fundraising Committee Foundation Committee, and manage the alumni relations program.

4.5 The Advancement Office will generate philanthropic strategic plans, targets and objectives for various University facilities, academic research activities and operational needs for approval by the Vice Chancellor.

5. Advancement activities

5.1. Gifts

5.1.1. Gifts may be made to the University by individuals, corporations, foundations or other legal entities.

5.1.2. A gift can vary in terms of cash, securities or real estate and the tax and financial implications need to be considered in each case by the University and donor.

5.1.3. Donors are responsible for the examination of any tax or other legal implication for their own affairs from the provision of a gift to the University and are responsible for the engagement of external professional services.

5.1.4. Any gift that requires additional University funding or commitment needs appropriate prior approval before being accepted.

5.1.5. Gifts of $5,000 or more must be held in the University's Foundation accounts and will have administrative oversight from the Advancement Office.

5.1.6. The University reserves the right to decline any gift. The University will not accept gifts from organisations or sectors that are in conflict with the University’s mission, values and research ethics policies, nor where a perceived relationship by virtue of the acceptance of a gift would detract from the University's reputation, or financial or legal standing.

6.2. Gifts - Works of Art

6.2.1. Works of art may be considered for the University Art Collection through the University's Anne and Gordon Samstag Museum of Art. The Samstag Museum is an approved public collecting institution participating in the Federal Government's Cultural Gifts program, which provides tax deductions for donors.

6.2.2. Art works accepted by the Samstag Museum for the University Art Collection are to be consistent with the University's policy C-25.1: University of South Australia Art Collection Policy: Acquisition and management of University art works.

7.3. Naming Rights

7.3.1. University Council policy C-3.1: Naming and Naming Rights outlines the principles governing naming rights opportunities in the University.

7.3.2. University buildings, outdoor facilities, collections and academic positions are examples of the opportunities for naming for fixed periods.

7.3.3. Naming opportunities are usually provided in order to honour an individual or organisation for service to the University and its mission, or to acknowledge the financial support of a donor or sponsor.

7.3.4. The level of sponsor contribution will guide and determine the duration of the naming opportunity.

7.3.5. Naming rights for academic positions should involve detailed agreements on matters such as ownership of intellectual property and reporting requirements.

7.3.6. Naming opportunities are approved by the University Council on the recommendation of the Vice Chancellor.

8.4. Bequests

8.4.1. Gifts made the University through a Will may include the whole or portion of an estate, a specified sum of money, real estate, stocks and shares, works of art or any other assets.

8.4.2. Bequests are valued at the time they are realised but the Advancement Office maintains information on known prospective bequest intentions.

8.4.3. The Advancement Office is responsible for the administration of all bequest intentions for the University and the promotion of relevant information to prospective bequestors.

9.5. Scholarships, Prizes and Awards

9.5.1. University Council policy A-50: Coursework Scholarships and Prizes outlines the rules and responsibilities governing University scholarships, prizes and awards in the University.

9.5.2. Named scholarships are established where a donor makes a significant contribution over a given period in support of academic study.

9.5.3. Prizes and awards are presented to acknowledge academic achievement at one point in time and are usually of lesser financial value than scholarships.

9.5.4. Students should be advised to examine the implications of receipt of any scholarship or prize for their own taxation purposes.

9.5.5. Selection processes for the awarding of scholarships and prizes are an academic matter but it is possible for donors to participate in the process in most cases.

9.5.6. Scholarships, prizes and awards are approved by the Academic Board of the University, and University wide scholarships are managed by the Student and Academic Services Unit or Research and Innovation Services as appropriate. Academic Units are responsible for the administration of scholarships and prizes falling within their area of academic responsibility.

9.5.7. The Advancement Office should be contacted prior to any contact to prospective industry partners, corporations or individuals for scholarship or prize support in order to minimise the likelihood of multiple approaches being made.

10. Role of Advancement and Fundraising Committee of Council

10.1. The Advancement and Fundraising Committee is a subcommittee of the University Council.

10.2. The Advancement and Fundraising Committee has responsibility for oversight of University philanthropy policies, strategies and monitoring of fundraising performance.

10.3. The Foundation Committee reports regularly to the Council of the University through its Chair.

10.4. The Advancement and Fundraising Committee seeks out philanthropic opportunities and makes approaches on the University’s behalf to prospective donors.

11. Role of UniSA staff

11.1. Staff involved in philanthropic activities represent the University and should avoid actual or perceived conflicts of interest.

11.2. Staff must make every effort to provide prospective donors with as much accurate, balanced and fair information and advice as is required, and encourage donors to pursue external professional advice where appropriate.

11.3. Staff should provide clear information to donors and supporters about the ongoing administration of any gift and changes in staff contact or other matters.

11.4. Staff should make appropriate endeavours to explore the background and standing of prospective donors and supporters, and any prior or ongoing contact by the University with prospective donors and supporters with the Advancement Office, before making an approach.

12. Donor and alumni information

12.1. The Advancement Office maintains donor and alumni records on behalf of the University.

12.2. The maintenance of these records must conform with relevant privacy legislation and statements outlining the protocols governing their access must be available for donors on request. 

13. Donor rights

13.1. Donors to the University should have their rights respected and in particular be:

13.1.1. informed of the University's mission, the manner in which the gift is to be used and the capacity of the University to effectively use the gift

13.1.2. provided with relevant information about the University, the role, activity and performance of the University, and the use and progress of their gift

13.1.3. informed of the identity of the University's key staff involved in managing the gift, and whether those seeking gifts are University staff or agents, and that such staff will maintain the highest professional standards

13.1.4. assured that no agreement, trust or contract will be at the expense of the donor's best interests and motivations

13.1.5. assured that their personal details, and details about their gift, will be treated confidentially and will not be shared with others outside the organisation without their explicit permission

13.1.6. recognised and acknowledged appropriately for their donation