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FAQ about the CASE Reporting Standards & Management Guidelines

The questions and answers below describe the CASE Reporting Standards & Management Guidelines, the current edition published in July 2009 and the review process that led to the new edition.

  1. What are the CASE Reporting Standards & Management Guidelines?
  2. Where can I find the CASE Reporting Standards & Management Guidelines?
  3. Are the CASE Reporting Standards & Management Guidelines the same as the Management and Reporting Standards, the MRS, or the M&RS?
  4. Who developed the standards?
  5. Are institutions required to follow the standards?
  6. What process led to the current version of the standards?
  7. What was the charge of the campaign standards working group?
  8. How were members of the working group selected?
  9. What changes in campaigns prompted the standards review?
  10. Why did the working group focus on revocable and irrevocable gifts, conditional pledges, campaign length, and government funds?
  11. How did the working group collect input from CASE members as it deliberated?
  12. What did the working group learn from CASE members?
  13. What changes to the campaign standards were approved by the CASE Board of Trustees?
  14. When did the changes become effective?
  15. What effect will the changes have on how institutions count and report fundraising campaigns?
  16. Has CASE offered clarification on the standards since the fourth edition was published in 2009?

1. What are the CASE Reporting Standards & Management Guidelines?

The CASE Reporting Standards & Management Guidelines are a common set of definitions and procedures for reporting the results of fundraising activities at educational institutions. They were created to help schools, colleges, and universities benchmark their fundraising efforts against those of their peers.


2. Where can I find the CASE Reporting Standards & Management Guidelines?

Now in a fourth edition published in July 2009, the CASE Reporting Standards & Management Guidelines can be purchased from the CASE Store.


3. Are the CASE Reporting Standards & Management Guidelines the same as the Management and Reporting Standards, the MRS, or the M&RS?

The CASE Reporting Standards & Management Guidelines are the most current set of definitions and procedures CASE has issued. While the name has evolved over the last 30 years, members may be most familiar with the 2004 edition published as the CASE Management and Reporting Standards and often abbreviated as MRS or M&RS. It had a green cover.

Beginning in 2006, a working group was created to review the standards. The working group recommended re-titling and repositioning the standards book to more clearly reflect its dual roles serving as both voluntary guidelines for fundraising managers and reporting standards for the purposes of benchmarking through surveys. This recommendation led to the new book title.


4. Who developed the standards?

Since 1979, a number of respected educational fundraising professionals from a broad range of organizations and institutions have been involved in the development and evolution of the standards. In addition, the standards have benefited from the input of the CASE membership as well as the CASE Commission on Philanthropy and the CASE Board of Trustees, both of which are made up of advancement professionals from a range of institutions. See an excerpt from the introduction to the fourth edition for additional background about their history and purpose.


5. Are institutions required to follow the standards?

Institutions must follow the standards when they report their fundraising results to two annual benchmarking surveys: the Council for Aid to Education's Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) Survey and the CASE Survey of Educational Fundraising Campaigns. Use of the standards to report fundraising results for other purposes, such as internal and external reports to an institution's constituents, is voluntary.


6. What process led to the current version of the standards?

In July 2006, the CASE Board of Trustees created the Campaign Standards Working Group to "take a fresh look at the CASE Management and Reporting Standards, in consultation with other groups and individuals, specifically as the standards apply to campaigns, due to developments in the field."

At its initial meeting the group decided to focus its attention on six areas: counting of government support and matching gifts, counting of revocable and irrevocable gifts, valuation of deferred gifts, treatment of conditional and unconditional pledges, term/length of the campaign, and term/length of pledges.

The group gathered information from members and deliberated between November 2006 and September 2007 before finalizing its recommendations. Those recommendations were shared with the CASE Commission on Philanthropy as well as the CASE Board of Trustees' Committee on the Profession, before their release to the CASE membership for public comment for a six-week period ending Feb. 15, 2008. The working group adjusted its recommendations based on this feedback prior to making a final recommendation to the CASE Board of Trustees at its March 2008 meeting. The board unanimously approved the working group's recommendations. The new edition of the standards was published in July 2009.


7. What was the charge of the campaign standards working group?

See the official charge.


8. How were members of the working group selected?

The working group was selected to represent CASE member institutions of various types and sizes as well as Educational Partners with broad experience working with institutions in campaigns. The chair of the group also served as the chair of the CASE Commission on Philanthropy. Several members of the group were current or former members of the CASE Board of Trustees or the CASE Commission on Philanthropy. See a list of members of the working group.


9. What changes in campaigns prompted the standards review?

Based on feedback from CASE members, the CASE Board of Trustees recognized that the nature of comprehensive campaigns was changing, and those changes warranted a review of the standards as they applied to campaigns. This was in line with past reviews to ensure that the standards continue to reflect the evolution of the profession.

The working group, in its initial statement and report, said that the new realities of campaigns included, for example, "scale, donor sophistication, peer school competition, increased public scrutiny, longer campaigns, the diversity of institutions embarking on campaigns, increased pressure for private support, and the growing variety and complexity of revenue sources." The group also recognized the following:

  • That although the original intent of the standards was to serve as a benchmarking tool, many institutions have considered them to be prescriptive;
  • That campaigns are organic to institutional planning and priority-setting activities, and that within the planning process, institutions must make strategic decisions about how campaigns are structured and reported-consistent, of course, with the law, accounting standards, and ethical practice;
  • That all gifts, regardless of how they are counted, made, and realized, bring value to the institution, and information about them, even if they fall outside of IRS recognition, is vital for strategic planning;
  • And finally, that standards are important to the profession because they contribute to clarity, transparency, consistency, and accountability in the way institutions report their campaign activities and successes.

10. Why did the working group focus on revocable and irrevocable gifts, conditional pledges, campaign length, and government funds?

In reviewing the standards and feedback from members, the working group identified these as the areas in which there was the most disagreement among professionals and the most variation in how institutions reported their campaign progress to their own constituents. Although the purpose of the standards is to benchmark fundraising via national surveys, the working group recognized that some institutions choose to follow them voluntarily for their own reporting purposes. In addition, the working group recognized that many institutions would like to be able to benchmark certain kinds of gifts in different ways through the surveys, and that changes in the information collected might meet these needs.


11. How did the working group collect input from CASE members as it deliberated?

The board's decision to create the working group was announced to members through an e-mail from CASE President John Lippincott. The group's work and progress were announced to CASE members in BriefCASE, CASE's monthly e-newsletter, and CURRENTS magazine. In all communications, the group welcomed feedback and input to a designated e-mail address. In addition, the working group conducted a survey of senior-level fundraising and development officers to evaluate current practices in each area and to seek member views of best and unacceptable practices in campaign counting. Finally, the working group released its preliminary recommendations to the CASE membership for a six-week public comment period in January and February 2008. The group made some changes to its initial recommendations based on suggestions made during the public comment period.


12. What did the working group learn from CASE members?

Survey results showed that while the majority of participating institutions followed the 2004 CASE Management and Reporting Standards in each of the individual areas identified for campaign counting, few followed them in all of the areas. In some cases, institutions took an alternative approach based upon a very thoughtful and compelling rationale.


13. What changes to the campaign standards were approved by the CASE Board of Trustees?

See the former and current language.


14. When did the changes become effective?

Approved changes were reflected in the fall 2008 version of the CASE Survey of Educational Fundraising Campaigns, the results of which were reported in the 2008 CASE Campaign Report. The revised edition of the standards was published in July 2009. Use by individual institutions for their own campaign counting and reporting is voluntary, so institutions may choose to adopt them at any time.


15. What effect will the changes have on how institutions count and report fundraising campaigns?

The changes promote greater transparency by asking institutions to break out certain types of gifts that some institutions were consolidating in public reporting about campaigns. The changes also will allow CASE to better track trends in fundraising campaigns.


16. Has CASE offered clarification on the standards since the fourth edition was published in 2009?

In October 2011, CASE provided clarification to the standards as endorsed by the CASE Commission on Philanthropy. Clarification was provided regarding counting donations in three categories: intellectual property and patents, conservation easements and corporate partnerships.

In addition, in October 2007, the CASE Commission on Alumni Relations in consultation with the CASE Commission on Philanthropy approved several alumni giving FAQs that address ethical counting and reporting of alumni gifts.