One important thing to keep in mind is that college presidents – unlike some CEOs – are not the “be all, end all” of the institution. Even presidents who are most eager to move forward with a proposed gift can find themselves entangled in committees and approval processes. Before signing on the dotted line, it is, therefore, important for donors to ask what procedural steps will be necessary to finalize approval – and clarify in writing what will happen to the gift if those approvals are not forthcoming.
It is important to remember throughout the process that it’s your money. If you’re not gung ho about the way the college plans to spend your money, address it up front or take your money elsewhere And, on the flipside, know it will be impossible to micromanage your gift once it is given. Though you can have a large say in outlining the program, you cannot dictate faculty appointments or course content. Faculty may like the books you suggest; but, at the end of the day, it’s up to them to decide. That’s why it’s important to outline your objectives clearly up-front so the institution can weigh whether or not it can accommodate the program you want and implement it in good faith.
A tricky process? It can be. One way to make the process easier is to find a faculty friend. This person can serve as an invaluable guide about the three P’s of academic life – principles, procedures and politics. All three are potential barriers to a successful endeavor.
Your faculty friend can become an ally to help you forge a workable plan. And if you need help finding a faculty friend, let us know. Send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 202-467-6787. There’s a good chance there is someone on campus who shares your academic goals. We’d be happy to help you find that person.