Two weeks ago I submitted a topic to the CASE Group discussions on the LinkedIn web site [free registration required]. I am posting an updated version of my question here to generate additional discussion.
Anonymous Donations: Anyone concerned about the source of the funds?:
There has been ample news coverage recently about a series of anonymous donations to US colleges and universities, totaling some $80 million so far. The gifts come with the stipulation that the receiving institution must not attempt to identify the source of the gifts, or the donations may be rescinded.
Should the receiving institutions have concerns about accepting donations of this size without any information about the donor, business or enterprise that generated the funds? I can imagine a circumstance in which an institution later wishes it were not linked to the donor or his/her line of business.
In reply, Judy Piercey (University of California - San Diego) quoted an article in which her UCSD colleague Juli Larsen (Associate Vice Chancellor of Development) commented about having been approached with a similar offer:
As a public institution, we do have very stringent rules on gift acceptance. The only way we were willing to enter into this discussion was if the bank itself...was willing to verify [that] the source of the funds was legal and attest in writing to the legitimacy of the donor and the donor's intent.
This was definitely new territory. It was frustrating....Our work is about trying to connect donors with our people and programs. So obviously we want to meet these [donors].