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Rupa Kotecha-Smith
marketing & communications manager
CASE Europe
+ 44 (0)20 7448 9955

Pam Russell
director of communications


For Immediate Release
30 November 2011

Statement Regarding the Publication of Lord Woolf's Inquiry Into the London School of Economics and Its Links With Libya

CASE recommends transparent ethical principles to determine gift acceptance

CASE welcomes Lord Woolf's inquiry and recommendations in relation to international donations to the London School of Economics, published today. Although the focus of Lord Woolf's report concerns one UK higher education institution, there are lessons for the entire sector and the fundraising community at large.

As the leading global membership association for educational advancement, CASE advocates the highest professional and ethical standards for all those working in the fields of fundraising, alumni relations, marketing and communications.

Earlier in 2011, CASE Europe, working with the Ross Group of Development Directors and the 1994 Group of Development Directors, reviewed existing practice in relation to gift acceptance.

It is clear from this work that UK higher education institutions engaged in significant fundraising already have processes in place for judging the acceptability of donations. However, with the growing emphasis across the sector on philanthropy, the group believed it would be helpful to develop a set of core principles that all universities might consider as they develop or adjust criteria and processes to reflect their particular structures and priorities.

These guidelines, endorsed by Universities UK, are published here.

The guidelines emphasise the following considerations:

  1. Philanthropic support should be aligned with the values, strategic goals and financial needs of an institution.
  2. Information for donors, stakeholders and the university community regarding the processes followed for gift acceptance should be publicly available.
  3. Independent research, scholarship and teaching are the basis for the furtherance of knowledge. Universities must not accept gifts if this is not fully understood and accepted by all parties.

In response to the Woolf report, Professor Eric Thomas, vice-chancellor of the University of Bristol, and chair of the board of trustees of CASE Europe, noted:

"Philanthropy is an increasingly significant component of the UK higher education sector's income stream. Balancing academic independence with effective donor relations is achievable and evident across the sector. Clear and transparent gift acceptance policies and procedures support this."

And Kate Hunter, executive director for CASE Europe, said:

"Fundraising is a legitimate activity for the higher education sector: universities are charitable institutions in their own right and many have their origins in philanthropy. As the higher education sector has internationalised, engagement with supporters across the world has emerged as an increasing component of an institution's philanthropic endeavours.

"CASE Europe's guidelines on gift acceptance are based on existing fundraising practice in the sector, and they respect the inherent principles of academic freedom and integrity associated with higher education. These practices are, however, not purely the domain of fundraising professionals: they must be understood and fully embedded across an institution."

Fundraising by UK Universities brings in approximately £0.5bn annually: 2 percent of UK higher education expenditure[1]. The development of this income stream should be guided by clear policies and procedures with regard to the criteria that determine whether any particular gift or donation should be accepted. As independent institutions, each university should make its own decisions in the light of its own circumstances.

Universities attract the largest philanthropic gifts made in the UK[2]. Institutions and fundraising practitioners must expect the inevitable public scrutiny that will accompany such gifts. Research and due diligence in relation to the origins of gifts are an important part of acceptance procedures.

[1] Ross-CASE

[2] Coutts Million Pound Donor report



Additional Resources

About CASE

CASE believes in advancing education to transform lives and society. As a global nonprofit membership association of educational institutions, CASE helps develop the communities of professional practice that build institutional resilience and success in challenging times. The communities include staff engaged in alumni relations, fundraising, marketing, student recruitment, stakeholder engagement, crisis communications and government relations. CASE is volunteer-led and uses the intellectual capital of senior practitioners to build capacity and capability across the world.

CASE has offices in Washington, D.C., London, Singapore and Mexico City. Member institutions include more than 3,700 colleges and universities, primary and secondary independent and international schools, and nonprofit organizations in 82 countries. CASE serves nearly 88,000 practitioners. For more information about CASE, please visit www.case.org.

About The Ross Group
The Ross Group is a network of leading development directors working in higher education (HE). It works closely with CASE—the Council for Advancement and Support of Education—and is the developer of the
Ross-CASE Survey of Fundraising which is published annually and is the most comprehensive source of information about fundraising trends in UK higher education.

About the 1994 Group
Established in 1994, the Group brings together nineteen internationally renowned, research-intensive universities. The Group provides a central vehicle to help members promote their common interests in higher education, respond efficiently to key policy issues, and share best methods and practice.