Browse by Professional Interest
IRF Update - January 17, 2013

Cochrane, Lerner to Speak at 2013 IRF Conference

Economist Steve Cochrane and IRS Director Lois Lerner will be the featured speakers at the 21st Annual CASE Conference for Institutionally Related Foundations, which takes place April 17–19, 2013, in Atlanta, Ga.

Cochrane, managing director at Moody's Analytics, will provide an economic outlook and a regional state forecast for the coming year. Lerner, director of Exempt Organizations for the Internal Revenue Service, will discuss recent IRS activities affecting institutionally related foundations, including the Service's College and University Compliance Project.

The annual conference provides a forum for IRF executives to learn about critical and emerging issues affecting institutionally related foundations. In-depth presentations by senior professionals set the stage for smaller elective sessions. The conference is designed primarily for executives at foundations affiliated with four-year public institutions and community colleges.

CASE will offer CPE credit for selected sessions, and the conference will again include sessions designed for community college foundation staff.

To register and view the program, visit the IRF conference page on the CASE website. Additions to the agenda will be posted in the next few days.

CASE Extends Deadline for IRF Data Book Survey

Foundation staff still have time to complete the fiscal year 2012 IRF Data Book survey. The new survey deadline is Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013.

The IRF Data Book allows institutionally related foundation executives and professionals to compare data related to their foundation's structure, funding, staffing and operations with their peers.

Foundation staff who complete the survey can register for a free 30-minute webinar on how to use the survey data to benchmark against peer foundations. Register for one of two free webinars by clicking on the links below.

Foundation staff who completed the fiscal year 2011 IRF Data Book survey can access the FY12 survey by logging in at at

Staff who did not participate in the FY11 survey can participate in the FY12 survey after registering to use the CASE Benchmarking Toolkit. Complete the following two steps to register:

  • Select an individual to complete data surveys. Given the financial nature of most surveys, the most appropriate person may be a financial staffer. This person will also be the foundation's designee for accessing data in the data book.
  • Email the full contact information for this individual to and reference the "IRF Data Book."

The CASE research department will send login information to the registered individual, who will then be able to log in to the CASE Benchmarking Toolkit and complete the FY12 survey. As soon as this person submits a completed survey, he or she will be able to access data and benchmark against peers who have also completed the survey.

Learn more about the FY12 IRF Data Book Survey on this page of the CASE website. Contact Heather Harmon, or 202-478-5622, or Brian Flahaven, or 202-478-5617, with questions.

Fiscal Cliff Deal Preserves Charitable Deduction

On Jan. 2, President Barack Obama signed into law fiscal cliff legislation that preserves the charitable deduction and extends the estate tax and IRA charitable rollover.

Under terms of the deal, the marginal tax rate for individuals earning more than $400,000 ($450,000 for households) is 39.6 percent. Marginal tax rates for taxpayers earning under $400,000 remain the same. Since itemized deductions, including the charitable deduction, were not capped in the deal, an individual's charitable deduction rate remains equal to his or her marginal tax rate.

While the charitable deduction is not capped, the new law does reinstate the so called "Pease limitation," a provision that imposes a 3 percent reduction in the value of itemized deductions, including the charitable deduction, for taxpayers earning more than $250,000 ($300,000 for households).

The new law also:

  • Permanently extends the estate tax, exempting the first $5 million of an estate and taxing the remainder at a 40 percent rate (going forward, the $5 million exemption is indexed for inflation) and
  • Includes a two-year retroactive extension of the IRA charitable rollover from Jan. 1, 2012, through Dec. 31, 2013 (with special transition rules in effect for gifts made in December 2012 and January 2013).

While the charitable deduction was preserved in the current bill, the White House and Congress may consider capping the charitable deduction in future negotiations over halting across-the-board spending cuts and raising the debt ceiling. CASE will continue to keep members updated on the latest developments.

Flexible Content, Social Media Help Keep Campaign Messaging Fresh and Engaging

Fundraising campaigns at educational institutions are multiyear events, and communicators should think of each project in the campaign, such as the public launch, as a mile marker in a marathon. Some campaigns may last as long as eight years. How can institutions keep their campaign messages fresh and engaging?

Jennifer Bowie, executive director of development, advancement communication and marketing at Ohio University, says that building a strong brand for your campaign is essential.

"It means answering the questions why? and why now? for your campaign," Bowie says. "This hard work helps your university develop a unique campaign look and feel that matches the character of the institution and enables you to tell authentic, compelling stories for the life of your campaign."

Elizabeth Allen, director of online communications and alumni relations at the American School in London, says that there can be a "big push for campaign materials that have high production value and significant upfront expense." She recommends forgoing glossy brochures and lengthy videos and instead producing new materials throughout the campaign.

"Create content that is more flexible, [such as] a series of short video clips that can be refreshed, integrated or extracted at different times throughout the campaign," Allen says.

Susan Evans, a senior strategist with the communications consulting firm mStoner Inc., says that social media channels should have a place in campaigns and can be especially important during the middle years of a campaign when resources aren't as abundant. Facebook, Twitter, search engine marketing and optimization, and earned media can help keep your message alive, Evans says.

Learn more strategies for campaign communications in the article "Making Strides," in the January issue of CURRENTS.

Calling all documents from foundations

CASE is seeking board and advisory group documents from institutionally related foundations to build an online collection. Materials will be posted on the CASE website to assist members who need information about board and advisory group roles and responsibilities, nomination and selection processes, orientation, assessment and more. CASE has provided a list of possible documents to share. All materials are welcomed and can be emailed to


IRA Charitable Rollover Is Back
Wall Street Journal, Jan. 6, 2013
Congress has revived the IRA charitable rollover as part of the fiscal cliff deal. The rule allows for $100,000 per year to be transferred from an individual retirement account directly to a qualified charity without counting the transfer as taxable income.
Full Article

America's Wealthiest Donors Slow Their Giving
Chronicle of Philanthropy, Jan. 1, 2013
America's billionaires gave less in 2012 than in 2011, according to a list released by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The total value of gifts by billionaires in 2012 is also significantly smaller than the high of $8 billion in 2008. Six foundations and six colleges and universities were pledged the largest gifts in 2012.
Full Article

Philanthropists Write Last-minute Checks amid Cliff Uncertainty
Washington Post, Jan. 1, 2013
During the fiscal cliff debate, some wealthier donors gave larger gifts in anticipation of higher tax rates while other others held back because of worries over the economy. It is still unclear whether the fiscal cliff uncertainty will have a major impact on the year's total charitable giving.
Full Article

Will State Colleges Become Federal Universities?
Bloomberg, Nov. 27, 2012
Although public universities are receiving less funding from state governments, many still face government-imposed constraints such as tuition caps. Many states also control the selection of individuals who serve on the governing boards of public universities. In this opinion piece, Professor Richard Vedder argues that public universities should privatize.
Full Article

10 Colleges with Largest Financial Endowments
U.S. News and World Report, Nov. 27, 2012
A survey of more than 1,800 colleges and universities shows that the average endowment value is about $313 million. Nearly 70 of the colleges on the list had endowments of more than $1 billion. Most of the universities with large endowments were private; one public university, the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor, was in the top 10.
Full Article

How can I receive the CASE IRF Update in my inbox?

Contact Brian Flahaven, director of legislative, foundation and recognition programs, at


IRF Update reports news and activities of interest to institutionally related foundations.

Read the latest IRF Update