Gift/Bio Administration, Compliance, and Ethics: University of Colorado Foundation - Bronze Medal

Category 3B: Advancement Services Programs - Gift/Bio Administration, Compliance, and Ethics
University of Colorado Foundation – Electronic Desktop Deposit

Contact: Stacey Coseo, Business Analyst, 4740 Walnut Street, Boulder, CO 80301, 303.541.1259,

Staff Involved (8)
Executive Sponsor: VP Development and Information Services (1)
Gifts and Records Processing Manager (1)
Records Specialist (2)
Business Analysts (1)
Trainer (1)
Senior Programmer\Analyst (1)
Project Manager (1)

Development Services Mission Statement: The development services organization exists to enhance the mission of the University of Colorado by providing support and services to the foundation’s fundraising staff, resulting in stronger relationships with donors and increased philanthropic backing for the university.

Development Services Vision Statement: The vision of the development services organization is to:

  • Provide accurate information, sound advice and timely services to the foundation community
  • Seek opportunities to improve services and processes with improved cost efficiency
  • Anticipate Foundation needs to improve fundraising and organizational effectiveness

Issue for Resolution: Campus-based development officers located in three cities across Colorado received gift checks and forwarded them with a transmittal form to a bank lockbox. Issues related to this process included:

  • Process inefficient due to the fact that donor checks were not being deposited in a timely manner
  • 90 percent of gifts received took up to seven days for the gift to be deposited
  • Decreased efficiency of the processing department to send out timely receipts resulting in donor dissatisfaction

Background: Since 2001 a number of events precipitated an innovative approach to gift handling at the Foundation.

New Legislation: At the time of 9/11/2001, the government realized checks could not be cleared because the flow of paper between bank clearing houses had been interrupted. Legislation was passed to allow additional forms of electronic clearing of funds. One of those forms was called Check 21. This method permitted banks to create processes where businesses could scan a check and make an electronic deposit. Wells Fargo, the foundation’s banking partner, introduced Electronic Desktop Deposit process in 2006.

State Auditor Recommendations: In 2004 a state audit of the University of Colorado Foundation resulted in recommendations to improve the tracking of gifts as they are received in satellite offices and the process for ensuring the gifts are applied according to donor intent.

US Post Office Service Issues: In 2005, on two separate occasions, the US Post Office lost large envelopes containing major gift checks and transmittal forms that were being sent from satellite offices to the bank lockbox for deposit.

Project goals were as follows:

  1. Tighten cash management controls by implementing a standardized process that is auditable, while also improving cash flow
  2. Determine which satellite offices had sufficient volume to justify the purchase of the hardware unit
  3. Create and document all gift logging procedures using the Advance Database and Electronic Desktop Deposit processes including the check destruction process and check storage control logging
  4. Develop and deliver the Gift Logging and Electronic Desktop Deposit processes through formal training classes to university and foundation employees. Every new staff member goes through intensive training in Advance, Electronic Desktop Deposit and Electronic Transmittal Logging
  5. Create a suite of reports to assist in auditing functions and allow the development officers to track their progress in real time
  6. Develop a standardized method for trouble-shooting and providing feedback for process improvements

Target Audience: The conversion and implementation of Electronic Desktop Deposit concentrated on standardizing the electronic transmittal logging and gift handling processes at the four different University of Colorado campuses and the University of Colorado Foundation. Electronic Desktop Deposit was intended to enhance the capability of Electronic Transmittal Logging within the Advance database performed by the campus development assistants to efficiently log gifts electronically and to deposit the gifts immediately.

This new program allowed gifts to be quickly distributed to the proper allocation providing immediate accessibility to the donations eliminating a 7-10 business day delay. With this new electronic deposit system it enabled the development officers to track specific allocation codes and the amount of money that was available for use in real time.

Project Budget: The project was completed with available internal programming, training and project management expertise over a six month period totaling approximately $49,750.00. Electronic desktop deposit scanners were $932.00 per unit. Activity charges increased a total of $459.00 per month for all campuses. The foundation purchased check storage bags at a cost of $0.22 each.

Electronic Desktop Deposit: Electronic Desktop Deposit is part of an Internet software package titled Wells Fargo Commercial Electronic Office (CEO) that allows the University of Colorado and the University of Colorado Foundation to directly deposit checks using a check scanner. Using the CEO software coupled with the desktop check scanner creates same day deposits. The software comes with a feature that creates an image of the check that can be saved electronically.

Using this method and new procedures including customized discretionary fields that are linked to Advance has enabled the foundation to:

  • improve cash flow
  • decrease the Advance gift processing time
  • increase donor satisfaction by mailing out gift receipts and/or acknowledgements in a timely manner

Impacts of Project:

Improved Donor Satisfaction

  • Improved donor satisfaction by sending out thank you letters and receipts within 0-2 business days by 63 percent compared to 36 percent prior to implementation
  • Reduced number of calls from donors inquiring about receipt of donation and their gift acknowledgement
  • Reduced number of calls from the development assistants to the central processing office regarding deposits

Increased Operational Efficiency

  • Deposit checks at any time from the multiple development offices within the University of Colorado and the University of Colorado Foundation via the Internet
  • Standardized gift handling processes across the University of Colorado and University of Colorado Foundation
  • Manage cash receipts efficiently through immediate logging and deposit
  • Enhances security of gift handling
  • Improved cash flow with 80 percent of the gifts deposited within two days of receipt as compared to 80% being deposited within seven days prior to this project
  • Increased number of transactions processed using the new Gift Logging Transmittal Process in parallel with Electronic Desktop Deposit
  • Cancelled check management process prevents duplicate checks from re-entering the payment stream
  • Rate of error reduction achieved due to the elimination of double data entry to 0.38 percent compared to 0.60 percent prior to implementation
  • Customizable reporting and automated updates to accounts receivable according to foundation policies

Improved Audit Controls

  • Improved internal controls to adhere to audit standards because of the creation of a secure centralized log of gift transactions received remotely
  • Full internal and self auditing capabilities where gift administrators use standardized reports to view and track the donations received and processed
  • No software requirement, allowing the service or drivers to be delivered directly by the Wells Fargo CEO portal
  • Allowed internal system administration by the accounting department

Next Steps: One of the next logical steps is to upload the scanned images into the foundation’s new document management system currently being implemented. The foundation is also evaluating using electronic feeds from the bank lockbox to further automate the gift entry process and reduce the cost of a transaction. The Electronic Desktop Deposit and Electronic Transmittal Logging were the first key steps to fully automating gift processing.

Supporting Materials

Advance Database
Gift Transmittal Log Report



The Electronic Gift Transmittal Log provides an overview of the checks that have been received, logged and processed. This procedure is occurring within 0-2 business days.


This chart is a representation of the number of transactions and the number of days it took for the check to be deposited before and after the Electronic Desktop Deposit and Electronic Gift Logging processes were implemented.



Commercial Electronic Office (CEO)



Panini Check Scanner