Make sure your client and educational institutions are speaking the same language.

Exactly a century ago, Congress ushered a seismic investment in higher education through the transformation of U.S. philanthropy: for the first time, charitable gifts would be tax deductible. Knowing that the financial strains of World War I would make charitable giving more difficult, they found a way to reward individuals and families who chose to donate money for the public good.  

College and universities received a whopping $41 billion in private contributions in 2016, and that figure is expected to be yet greater for 2017. Colleges and universities are also the top charitable target for ultra-high-net worth individuals, with 28 of the 2017 ‘Philanthropy 50’ identified by the Chronicle of Philanthropy giving to higher education. 

Against that backdrop, attorneys can play a role in helping higher education donors to ensure their gifts are used as intended – and create long-term sustainable impact. What happens, for example, if circumstances change and the original purpose of a donor’s gift no longer makes sense? How can philanthropists, large and small, ensure that their investments in higher education institutions remain aligned with their priorities and intent? Effective dialogue between donors and schools starts with donors who understand their options and speak the same language as institutional representatives. Too often, legalese and buzzwords can get in the way of thoughtful agreements and, in turn, outcomes.

Below, we compiled a handful of terms that donors—and their advisors—should understand before they begin to navigate the process: a “giving glossary” of sorts. These descriptions aren’t legal advice, but may provide a useful starting point for conversations with clients about how best to structure their next gift or their first.

Click through to for the descriptions of the following terms: 

  1. Frustration-of-use clause
  2. Reverter clause
  3. Donor standing
  4. Overhead
  5. Naming rights clause
  6. Publicity clause