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L&S Gift Management: Depositing Gifts, Gifts in Kind, and Gift Acknowledgment

This series focuses primarily on gift acceptance and the financial administration of Foundation funds and 233 projects. For more information on development and donor stewardship, contact the L&S Office of Strategic Communications and Advancement. For any question on gift funds, contact Jana Valeo or John Varda.

Is it a Gift or a Grant?

In some cases it may be difficult to distinguish between a gift and a sponsored project/grant. Funds that meet the criteria of a sponsored project/grant must be run through Research and Sponsored Projects (RSP) as a grant and cannot be deposited as a gift. Further information about how to distinguish gifts from sponsored projects can be found here, but this is not a determination you need to make on your own. Please contact Jana Valeo or John Varda for assistance.

Before accepting any donations for deposit, review the Gift Funds Policy UW-3010 to make sure the donation meets the criteria of a gift and that the donor identity authentication process is followed if necessary. Additional policy information can be found at the Gifts section of the Division of Business Services website.


Depositing Monetary Gifts

As a best practice, monetary gifts should be directed to the University of Wisconsin Foundation, but gifts can be deposited directly into a 233 project at UW-Madison when certain criteria is met. Review the 3010.1 Acceptance of Gift Funds via the Division of Business Services website for the most up to date information.

Please contact the with questions about gift deposits before reaching out to the Campus Gift Office.

The L&S Dean's Office/Budget Office does not require a signature from the Division before deposit, but a copy of the completed form and supporting documentation must be sent to to to create a record. In the subject line, indicate if it is a deposit at the Foundation or a 233 project, the Department, request # or the 233 project number.

Deposit at UW Foundation

Follow the Gift Deposit Instructions via WFAA website

  • Access to the UW Foundation GFM website is required to complete these forms and can be requested here.
  • Gift checks should be mailed directly to UW Foundation lockbox with a completed UW Foundation Gift Deposit Form.
  • It is acceptable to deposit checks payable to other names than UW Foundation if there is clear documentation that the donor intended the check to be a gift to the UW Foundation or deposited into a fund at the UW Foundation. That documentation must be forwarded to the UW Foundation with the check.
  • Please email a copy of the form to and include the Request # and department in the subject line of the email.
  • A Dean's Office signature is not required and the check should be mailed directly to the UW Foundation lockbox.

Deposit at UW

Complete the Check Deposit Form and a Gift Deposit Routing Form specifying which 233 project the funds should be deposited and send to Cash Management. 

  • Deposits going directly to a 233 project at UW-Madison should be sent to Accounts Payable with a Gift Deposit Routing Form. The routing form should be signed by the department. A Dean's Office signature is not required on the routing form prior to deposit. We will review with Accounting Services after the routing form and check is received by Accounting Services. 
  • Please email a copy of the signed forms to with the subject labeled, "233 Gift Deposit- Department Name."
  • Campus departments are responsible for issuing a Gift Acknowledgment Letter for monetary donations received directly by UW Madison from a donor.  The letter serves as a thank you and is a required written acknowledgment of the gift. It should include the amount donated and specific language from the letter template. 
  • Attach any documentation received that indicates the funds should be treated as a gift and/or donor intent. If there is no official donor statement that the money is a gift, then a copy of the gift acknowledgment letter generated by the department should accompany the documentation to indicate the money was accepted as a gift.

Accepting Gifts in Kind

'Gift in Kind' Definition

A Gift in Kind is a tangible item, good, or service the University typically would otherwise have to buy if the item, good, or service had not been donated. Gift in Kind is often abbreviated as 'GIK' and can also be referred to as a non-monetary donation. 

Considerations for determining whether to accept a gift in kind:

  • Gift should be relevant to the mission of the University and further the work of departments and programs at the University.
  • Donor’s intent should match the interests of the University.
  • Consideration should be given to potential future costs associated with accepting the gift (maintenance, repair, storage, etc.).
  • Consideration and formal evaluation should be performed related to future competitive bidding concerns, and any potential legal and/or insurance concerns associated with accepting the gift.

Instructions for L&S Departments/Programs: Accepting a Gift in Kind

  1. Complete the Gift in Kind Routing Form.
  2. Email the following to the L&S Budget Office:
  3. The L&S Budget Office reviews and sends to the Gift Management team for processing.
  4. Gift Management records the donation in the Shared Financial System (SFS), which is subsequently reported to the Board of Regents.
  5. Unless otherwise notified, the department coordinates taking physical custody of the item.
  6. After the item has been received by the department, the department is responsible for issuing a Gift in Kind Acknowledgment Letter to the donor. A copy of the letter issued needs to be provided to Gift Management.

Other scenarios

  • There may be instances when it is not practical to complete the GIK Routing Form prior to taking physical custody of the item. This is okay. When this happens, the department can complete the GIK Routing Form as soon as possible and follow the process outlined above.
  • If a department/program accepts gifts in kind on a frequent basis, or if a high volume of gifts is received, it is acceptable to consolidate the processing and reporting for a period of time. Some examples:
    • Record the name and address of the donors, and the description of items donated so acknowledgment letters can be issued.
    • Create a listing of donations received in a monthly period.
    • Complete one GIK Routing Form for that month's donations and attach the detailed listing to the form for processing.

Supporting Documentation

Recommended forms of support:

  • Third party appraisal
  • Itemized listing
  • Invoice or quotation of item or similar item
  • Published value of the item or similar item, such as web searches, online or physical catalogs, or online auction sites.

Supporting documentation is needed to substantiate the value of the item, and is required if the gift is considered capital equipment. The campus Property Control team will track the item as an asset to the University, in the Asset Management System. This means that the item will be insured. The item will be included in depreciation calculations that impact the University's financial statements. Due to these reasons and to avoid risk upon audit, it is important to include documentation that reasonably supports the estimated fair value assigned.

Capital Equipment

Criteria for capital equipment:

  • It would fall under the 46xx account codes if it were being purchased
  • It has an estimated fair value of $5,000 or more
  • It has an estimated useful life of one year or longer

If the item being donated meets the definition of capital equipment, supporting documentation must accompany the GIK Routing Form. 

Gift in Kind Agreement

If a gift in kind agreement is being requested by the donor, email Gift Management ( for signature, and copy Gift Management will consult with Risk Management or Legal Services as needed, and sign on behalf of UW-Madison. Departments do not have signature authority for these agreements.

Gift in Kind Resources

Gift Acknowledgment

Gift acknowledgment is an important part of gift management. Donations that are routed through UW Foundation will automatically be acknowledged by UW Foundation, but a thank you letter from the department is encouraged. When donations are made directly to the Department and deposited directly into a 233- account, the department is responsible for receipting and issuing the donor acknowledgment letter. 

Gifts Deposited at UW Foundation: Thank You Letter Recommended

All donations that go through UW Foundation are acknowledged/receipted by UW Foundation automatically, and that correspondence is sufficient for tax purposes for the donor.  In other words, the department is not required to produce a gift acknowledgment letter for tax purposes because it is already taken care of by UW Foundation.  It is still a good practice for the department to send a thank you letter.

Gifts Deposited Directly into a 233- Account: Gift Acknowledgment Letter Required

All donations that are deposited directly in a UW 233- account without passing through UW Foundation need to be acknowledged by the department because UW Foundation will not have knowledge of these deposits and will not generate a letter.  The department must provide the gift acknowledgment or the donor will not have the appropriate documentation for tax purposes. Link to Cash management gift acknowledgment letter template?

Using Gift Acknowledgment Letter as Gift Documentation for 233- Deposit

If there is no official donor statement that the money is a gift, like a letter, email, or notation in the memo field of the check, then a copy of the gift acknowledgment letter from the department to the donor should accompany the gift check routing form sent to the Dean's office. In those cases, the gift acknowledgment letter is our only documentation that the money is being accepted as a gift.

Thank You Letters to Donors: A Best Practice

The department should send a thank you to all their donors, big and small, whether or not the UW Foundation has sent a gift receipt to the donor. These letters should simply thank the donor, and not ask for further donations. A personal note or an example of how the gift will be used by the department are thoughtful additions to thank you letters. In most cases, you need not share the thank you letter with the Dean's office. As mentioned directly above, L&S only needs a copy of the gift acknowledgment letter in the case of a gift check deposit to a 233- that doesn't have any other donor statement. If you have questions about best practices with donors, contact the L&S Advancement Team.

Gifts in Kind Acknowledgment Letter

  • Once approval has been received and the item(s) have been received by the campus department, the department is responsible for issuing a Gift In Kind Acknowledgment Letter to the donor. The language used in the letter template should be incorporated for tax purposes.
  • Send copies to the L&S Budget Office, and Campus Gift Management,
  • Do NOT include an estimated value of the donation in the Donor Acknowledgment Letter. Any Form 8283 requested by a donor can be signed by Gift Management on behalf of UW-Madison.
  • If the item(s) donated is deemed to be capital equipment property, Gift Management will provide documentation to Property Control so the asset can be properly tagged and added to the Asset Management System.

 L&S Administration Contacts

KeywordsFoundation, 233, Gift, Deposit, Check Request, Gift Routing, Transfer, WFAA UW Foundation, gift management, gift in kind gift acknowledgment   Doc ID127640
OwnerJana V.GroupL&S KB
Created2023-05-05 13:00:47Updated2024-05-01 11:11:20
SitesL&S KB
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