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Advancement Glossary of Terms

Constituent Data,
Engaging Supporters,
Gift and Fund Management,
Legal and Policy Requirements,
Stewarding Donors
| 20 minutes to read
Last Updated: 10-12-2023


With WFAA’s recent launch of a new financial system FAST and new CRM 4WARD, some of our articles may be out of date. We are working to make updates as soon as possible. Please contact if you have any questions.

Our work raising money for UW–Madison requires learning some jargon. This outlines definitions to help in conducting advancement actions with WFAA on behalf of the university.

1848 Society: A recognition program administered through WFAA that recognizes those who include the University of Wisconsin–Madison in their annual philanthropic planning by donating $1,000 or more. Members of the 1848 Society invest in the UW’s mission by making annual leadership-level gifts to the university’s highest priorities. Learn more about the 1848 Society.

Acknowledgment: Thanking donors for a specific gift. Timely and meaningful acknowledgments are essential to donor satisfaction and retention. They demonstrate that a donor’s generosity is appreciated and that his or her gift will advance the university’s mission. Please refer to the Acknowledgment Guidelines for more details around thanking donors and recording activity in ABE.

Advancement: Advancement work at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is a collaborative effort between the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association and UW–Madison. This partnership facilitates the management of thorough data about alumni, donors, and friends of UW–Madison as well as thoughtful and strategic communications to and engagement of those alumni and donors.

The primary core disciplines of educational advancement are alumni relations, communications, marketing and fundraising. Advancement professionals work on behalf of educational institutions to

  1. secure private financial support from potential donors committed to the mission of the institution
  2. Engage alumni in the life of the institution as volunteers, advocates, and supporters
  3. Promote or market the institution to prospective students, their parents, and others
  4. Communicate about the institution with those who have a stake in its success, including community members, business leaders, government officials, the press, and others

Advancement Resources: Advancement Resources is a website that shares information about the advancement work done by the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association and campus colleagues on behalf of UW–Madison. It allows campus partners to work with their funds and constituent data, and it is a gateway to the ABE database.

Advancing Badger Engagement (ABE CRM): ABE CRM is a cloud-based alumni and donor database system shared by WFAA and campus. Based on your role, access will be granted to you via WFAA. To request access, please view the how-to page.

Annual Campaign: The University of Wisconsin’s Annual Campaign is an effort conducted once a year (October through December), every year, to generate support for maintaining the UW’s reputation as a world-class institution and real-world problem-solver. Alumni and friends are asked to make a gift during this time to reconnect with their university and remain an essential part of the UW’s mission. Contributions to the Annual Campaign provide the UW the greatest flexibility to meet its most pressing needs, because they are considered unrestricted gifts. Learn more about the Annual Campaign.

Annual Fund: Discretionary gifts to the university/unit that provide flexible funding to support important initiatives. Such gifts are typically spent based on the discretion of the dean or director of the unit receiving the gift. Learn more about annual fund gifts.

Annual Giving: The habit of loyalty giving on a yearly basis. Most donors who are annual givers fall below the major gift range but make up most of the gifts that the university receives. Annual giving builds our pipeline of future gifts; most major donors start giving with small amounts. Annual giving is also an important way to build participation and engagement within our alumni base.

Bascom Hill Society (BHS): A recognition program administered through WFAA that recognizes donors who have made cumulative gifts of $50,000 or more to UW–Madison. Learn more about the Bascom Hill Society.

Callable (Expendable) Fund (start with “112”): A short-term account where gifts received that are not transferred into endowment accounts are normally spent within one year of receipt. All monies in this type of account are available to be spent for the purpose specified by the donor(s) as stated in the memorandum of agreement or fund operating agreement.

Comprehensive Campaign: Typically a seven-year campaign (two years spent in quiet fundraising and five years spent in public fundraising) designed to raise significant revenue to support all facets of the university: facilities, student support, faculty support, research and innovation, programs, and operations. UW–Madison is currently in the middle of a comprehensive campaign called All Ways Forward.

Deferred/Planned Gift: Gifts committed to in the present, though they will be received in the future, usually coming in the form of estate gifts. Contact the Office of Gift Planning at WFAA.

Development: The process of creating and enhancing relationships with donors and potential donors. It is the introduction of (prospective) donors to the university and its mission, building their interest in the university’s mission and services, developing in them a passion for the mission and a commitment to the university’s future, encouraging them to donate, and maintaining the relationship so that they will continue to support the university. Different stages within development include qualifying the interest of the donor, cultivating which possibility may be the best fit for the donor, soliciting a gift, thanking the donor for their commitment, and demonstrating the impact of the donor’s gift.

Director of Development (DOD): Position with primary responsibility for the planning, management, and implementation of a comprehensive philanthropy program for the unit within the university s/he supports. The director of development is the primary liaison between WFAA and the campus unit.

Donor Acknowledgment Report: The Donor Acknowledgment Report lists gifts to university gift funds managed by WFAA and detailed information about the donors for each gift. The purpose of the report is to assist those responsible for acknowledging donor gifts.

Endowment Financial Report (EFR): The Endowment Financial Report is produced annually for all endowed funds with a known living donor, descendant, or designated person/entity connected to an endowed fund. The report describes the performance of all endowed funds when pooled together and includes financial information about the donor’s specific fund(s), including the fund’s market value and book value information for the year. These reports are sent out in spring by WFAA. See past Endowment Financial Reports.

Endowment Fund (start with “132”): This account is a long-term or invested account, which requires a minimum balance of $10,000. Endowed funds are designed to have a consistent, perpetual, and high-quality impact on the university’s mission. All of WFAA’s endowment accounts are pooled and invested as one portfolio referred to as the “Endowment Fund.” Contributions received as additions to an endowment fund are invested or transferred into the endowment at the end of each calendar quarter. All endowment funds earn income each quarter. All income distributed to endowment funds can be expended at any time. Income is allocated to each endowment fund based upon an annual spending plan rate of 4.5 percent. This rate, reviewed by WFAA’s board of directors, is multiplied by the average market value of the total endowment fund for the most recent 16 quarters.

Engage: Module that accompanies the WiSH scholarship management system. Engage provides donor relations and stewardship professionals one convenient place to store all information required for donor reporting, including the ability to curate information about recipients, disbursements, and thank-you letters.

Facility Gift: A gift given to build or renovate structures for university use. Major gifts toward facilities may result in a naming opportunity. Learn more about donor naming opportunities.

Faculty Support: Endowed faculty positions are important resources for developing and sustaining a strong faculty. Such positions provide honor and recognition for the faculty who receive them, as well as a source of income for special teaching and research materials, library acquisitions, salary supplements, and travel assistance. These endowed positions can rotate or be awarded for life, depending on the preference of the donor, and can take the form of a professorship, chair, or distinguished chair award.

Fund Operation Agreement (FOA): To be used in any situation where a campus unit is requesting that a new fund be created. All new funds require either a fund operation agreement or a memorandum of agreement.

Gift Planning: Integration of charitable giving into one’s overall financial, tax, and estate planning to maximize benefits to the giver and the charitable recipient. See also Deferred/Planned Gift.

Impact Report: A communication to donors that highlights the overall difference their gift makes to the fund(s) they support. This can take the form of printed pieces, video, in-person meetings, or digital pieces.

A good impact report will demonstrate to donors:

  • The positive impact of their gift on beneficiaries
  • That their gift is being used according to their intent
  • That we appreciate their generosity

Investiture Ceremony: This ceremony is counted among the oldest of traditions in academia. Originating in English universities and modeled after highly dignified knighthood ceremonies, “investiture” comes from the Latin phrase for “dress in robe.” In academic circles, the term has come to mean one who will literally don the university’s insignia and regalia. Investiture ceremonies typically accompany the installation of a professorship or an endowed chair.

Major Gift: A gift of more than $25,000 made as an outright gift or a pledge over time.

Memorandum of Agreement (MOA): All new funds require either a fund operation agreement or a memorandum of agreement. MOAs are contracts between WFAA and donors, related to the use of their gifts. An MOA typically has one main donor (individual or entity/corporation).

Morgridge Match: In 2014, John and Tashia Morgridge made the largest individual gift in UW–Madison’s history — more than $100 million. The Morgridge gift matched dollars from other donors to establish an endowment for a new named chair or to increase the endowment of a previously established chair, funded at a lower level. This match has concluded.

Naming Opportunity: When a donor makes a major gift to a facility project, one form of recognition is a naming opportunity. Depending on the project, donors may have the opportunity to name a room or building within the facility. Please see the Board of Regent Policy on Naming of University Facilities and Lands.

Net Asset Class (NAC): Each fund has its own account structure (net asset class, or NAC). An NAC with the “10” prefix indicates the fund is unrestricted. An NAC with the “20” prefix indicates the fund is temporarily restricted. An NAC with the “30” prefix indicates the fund is permanently restricted.

Nicholas Match: In 2015, Ab and Nancy Nicholas committed $50 million to inspire other donors to create undergraduate and athletic scholarships and graduate fellowships for UW–Madison students. The donation, a one-to-one matching fund, is the second-largest household gift in the university’s history. This match has concluded.

Patterson Legacy Match: In 2018, Susan and James Patterson committed $3 million to inspire other donors to create estate gifts toward scholarships for UW–Madison students.

Pledge: A signed commitment from a donor for a defined gift amount to be paid over an agreed-upon time frame.

Principal Gifts: A gift of at least $5 million made as an outright single gift (or larger if a blended or planned gift) that provides a transformational impact for the university. Learn more about stewardship of principal gifts.

Professorship: The office or post of a professor. A professor is the highest academic rank for a particular branch of learning in a college or university.

Program Gift: A gift made to a scholastic or extracurricular experience. Examples include giving toward a career program, internship program, or field experience/study abroad opportunity.

Recognition: Demonstrating gratitude to a donor for their giving (for either a specific gift or their philanthropy more generally). Recognition levels vary based on the amount of gifts/giving. Formal recognition societies can be administered centrally by WFAA (like the Bascom Hill and Van Hise Societies) or by individual units.

Scholarship: An award of financial support for a student. Scholarships are awarded based upon various criteria, which usually reflect the values and purposes of the donor of the award. Scholarship money is not required to be repaid. Scholarships can take the form of fellowships for graduate students or awards for undergraduate students based on need, merit, or diversity. Scholarships are typically awarded through the Office of Student Financial Aid or unit financial offices.

Stewardship: Stewardship includes any activity done in order to make a donor feel their gift was meaningful, made an impact, or helped the university achieve its mission. Stewardship should be an ongoing effort that happens at multiple points after the donor’s investment.

Our stewardship practices are focused on three core objectives.

  • Donors will receive prompt and meaningful acknowledgment whenever they give.
  • Donors will receive meaningful and measurable results on their last gift at work before being asked for another one.
  • Donors will receive the highest level of financial accountability for their gifts/funds.

Unit: Any school/college/center/institute on campus.

University Communications (U Comm): University Communications produces a variety of print and online publications to tell the university’s story to the campus community and beyond. U Comm staff develop written and visual communication to capture how UW–Madison is fulfilling its core missions each day. U Comm collects, edits, and distributes information about campus to external and internal audiences via news releases, print publications, photos, video, web posts, email, social media, and other channels. U Comm responds to news media inquiries and connects reporters with the university sources who can best address their questions.

Van Hise Society:
A recognition program administered through WFAA that recognizes those who have been most generous to the university, having made gifts totaling $1 million or more. Learn more about the Van Hise Society.

WFAA Events Services: Functional areas within the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association that support engagement and development activities, including: event and meeting planning; vendor contracting and payment.

WFAA Registration Services: Functional area within the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association that supports the creation of events in ABE CRM, building of event registration sites, and processing of event payments.

Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA): WFAA’s mission is to promote the welfare of and advance the objectives of the University of Wisconsin–Madison by encouraging the interest, engagement, and financial support of alumni, donors, and friends in the life of the university and with each other. The Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association is the merged organization of the UW Foundation and the Wisconsin Alumni Association (since 2014). Learn more about WFAA’s programs and priorities.

Wisconsin Legacy Society: A recognition program administered through WFAA that honors and celebrates alumni and friends who have made a commitment to support the University of Wisconsin–Madison through a deferred gift. Learn more about the Wisconsin Legacy Society.

Wisconsin Scholarship Hub (WiSH): Online scholarship management platform that introduces a single scholarship website making it easy for administrators to promote all available scholarships on campus to the entire student population. Each student receives a unique, personalized view of the scholarships that they are most qualified for, based on student data. The WiSH system replaced the Common Scholarship Applications (CSA) system and went live in fall 2018.