Amherst College: Gift Acceptance Policy

January 2020


Amherst College educates students of exceptional potential from all backgrounds so that they may seek, value, and advance knowledge, engage the world around them, and lead principled lives of consequence.

Amherst brings together the most promising students, whatever their financial need, in order to promote diversity of experience and ideas within a purposefully small residential community. Working with faculty, staff, and administrators dedicated to intellectual freedom and the highest standards of instruction in the liberal arts, Amherst undergraduates assume substantial responsibility for undertaking inquiry and for shaping their education within and beyond the curriculum.

Amherst College is committed to learning through close colloquy and to expanding the realm of knowledge through scholarly research and artistic creation at the highest level. Its graduates link learning with leadership—in service to the College, to their communities, and to the world beyond.

Gift Acceptance Policy

Amherst strongly encourages voluntary contributions, gratefully acknowledges all gifts that enable the College to fulfill its purposes in accordance with our mission listed above, and does not discriminate in the acceptance of such gifts. 

In soliciting and accepting gifts, accounting for funds received, and reporting fundraising totals and impact, the Trustees, faculty, staff, and volunteers of Amherst College endeavor to enhance the well-being of the College and to treat all donors with respect and care.  Gifts are sought from individuals, corporations and foundations for purposes, positions, and programs that have appropriate academic and administrative approval.   Unrestricted gifts are encouraged; gifts with the fewest possible restrictions allow Amherst to address its most pressing needs.

Amherst College accepts gifts, the transference and implementation of which are deemed consistent with the state and federal laws.  Amherst College adheres to the "Statement of Ethics" and upholds the "Donor's Bill of Rights" both of which are set forth by CASE (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education).  Gift accounting follows CASE/NACUBO (National Association of College and University Business Officers) "Management Reporting Standards for Educational Institutions: Fund Raising and Related Activities."  Copies of the above-mentioned publications and audited financial statements are available from Advancement Operations.

To maintain the charitable nature of the gift, a donor must relinquish control of the assets and may not direct the funds to any specific student, staff or faculty member, or be involved with the direction of the funds once the assets are with the College.  The College will accept both inter vivos gifts and gifts from estates. 

Amherst College is a 501(c)(3) organization.  It is the College, through its Board of Trustees (not individuals, departments, centers, or museums) that receives gifts by law.   A Gift Acceptance Committee (GAC) is empowered to receive gifts or reject/refuse questionable gifts to the College on behalf of the Trustees in accordance with this policy.  In cases requiring additional reflection and discussion, the Committee may call upon the President and/or the Chair of the Board of Trustees. Gifts from donors with no previous or existing affiliation with the college, or any gift or pledge which raises questions may be brought to the attention of the GAC for review. 

A gift will not be accepted if offered under the following circumstances or with the following restrictions:

  • If the terms involve unlawful discrimination based upon race, religion, sex, age, national origin, color, handicap, or any other basis prohibited by federal, state, and local laws and regulation, obligate the College to violate any other applicable law or regulation, or violate the College's bylaws.
  • The funds or property donated appear to be acquired by other than legal or ethical means, or that clear title to the donated asset does not flow directly from the donor to the College. 
  • Commits the College to expenditures that are not aligned with priorities. 
  • Compromises the academic freedom of the College community. 
    The intended purpose of the gift and/or being associated with the donor of the gift violates the College’s standards or values.


The GAC carefully reviews all requests for anonymity.   The College is committed to transparency and will share information about the receipt of gifts in a manner that respects the wishes of the donor, best serves the interests of the College, and aligns with the College’s priorities.  At the request of a donor, the College may treat a gift as anonymous. However, a gift will not be treated as anonymous with the purpose of disguising the source of a gift which it would otherwise not have accepted.  As a matter of practice, the College does not publish donor lists.

Gift Acceptance Committee

A Gift Acceptance Committee (GAC) is empowered to receive gifts or refuse questionable gifts to the College on behalf of the Trustees in accordance with this policy.  The GAC will consist of the Chief Advancement Officer, the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, the Chief Policy Officer and General Counsel and the Provost and Dean of the Faculty, and the Senior Staff representative responsible for the administration of the gift. Gifts of $1 million and above will also be approved by the President. Meetings of the GAC will be convened on a regular basis and decisions determined in- person, and, as needed, through email, and by phone. 

Acceptance and Recording of Gifts

All gifts to the College, including those received directly by faculty, administrators and staff for the College or individual departments, must be forwarded to Advancement Operations for recording and receipting.  The College provides a receipt for the donor’s personal income tax purposes. It is the responsibility of Advancement to provide careful, professional and appropriate recording, receipting, acknowledgment, reporting and stewardship of each donor’s gift.    

Further guidelines on gift administration including endowment minimums, gift vehicles and approved designations are maintained by Advancement Operations.

Review of Policy

This policy will be reviewed annually by the Gift Acceptance Committee and Advancement Operations