Published on May 13, 2016.
Noelle Fujii, Editor-in-Chief
Victor Ong, News Editor
When you receive a scholarship from the university, it most likely was coordinated by the University of Hawai‘i Foundation (UHF), which is charged with overseeing all private gifts.
The Board of Regents (BOR) has a contract with the 61-year-old foundation to be the sole provider of fundraising and alumni services, and a board of trustees oversees the nonprofit. According to Margot Schrire, UHF director of communications, this is a best practice model among large public universities and university systems.
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, the foundation raised nearly $130 million, with most gifts being designated towards student aid.
Donors can give to existing funds or create new ones, and all gifts are used according to donors’ wishes. Almost all gifts are restricted by donors for specific purposes.
“UHF has processes and policies in place to ensure that expenditures from donor funds are consistent with the donor’s intent, are properly documented and are approved,” Schrire said in an email. “That gives donors peace of mind as they know that their gifts are being used wisely and as intended.”
A five percent administrative fee is taken from all gifts. This helps UHF with having expertise on staff and infrastructure to invest and manage funds raised, in addition to disbursing the funds according to donors’ wishes, Schrire said.
“In today’s market most public and private financial service entities and foundations, especially those without a large endowment, charge a service fee to assist with administrative costs such as audits, financial and investment management, software and system security programs, etc.,” she said. “UHF disburses more than $40 million a year to UH as designated to support students, programs, faculty and research. Most of our donors know that it takes money, time, and qualified professionals to raise and manage private funds for the benefit of UH.”
Why not UHF?
Disability Studies instructor Brian Kajiyama’s Heart of a Warrior Scholarship was set up in 2015 by former football coach Jeff Reinebold under the June Jones Foundation and is completely independent from the university, though the recipient has to commit to attend UH Mānoa.
“I think we chose not to go through the university to have more freedom,” he said.
Since the scholarship has his name on it, Kajiyama wanted to be involved with the selection of the recipient, to whom he would be a mentor.
According to UHF’s website, scholarship donors can specify base criteria to be used when selecting the recipient, and university representatives from the appropriate departments will use that criteria.
Central Union Church also administers scholarships to local students pursuing higher education or other specialized training after high school. Ruth Stepulis, Central Union Church Women’s League president, said the church chose not to administer its scholarships through the university foundation because they don’t want to limit them to recipients attending one university.
How does the foundation compare to others?
While there is a mix of nonprofit foundations and internal offices charged with fundraising among UH Mānoa’s peer institutions, Jennifer Kemp, community operations manager for the University of New Mexico Foundation, said there is no “one size fits all” model to how higher education foundations are supported or function. Generally there are three types: dependent, interdependent, and completely independent.
“The model or structure that an institution and/or foundation uses depends on numerous factors including (but not limited to) the institution’s resources, endowment size, university size, institution’s history, mission, etc,” she said in an email. “Additionally, even though an institution selects one model, that model could evolve as the institution evolves and factors change.”
In addition to the five percent assessment fee taken from gifts, the foundation receives funding from the university, which can provide $3 million a year for fundraising and alumni-related services — this cap is governed by state statute.
“This equates to about 20 percent of our budget so having an administrative service fee is key to our ability to fund core operations,” Schrire said.
The foundation also receives funding from an annual assessment on the market value of its endowment — the amount is determined each year — and interest on its short-term investments, according to its website.