Tracking Gift Accounts


The University (UI) has a fiduciary responsibility to expend gift proceeds in accordance with donor intent.  In order to ensure this, it is important to understand donor intent and to establish appropriate (UI) WhoKeys* to track the gift funds.  Gifts with specific donor intent must be tracked in unique WhoKeys and should not be co-mingled with other gift WhoKeys. 

Policy & Procedure:

Gift Definition

A gift is a donation from outside of the university to support a college, department, professor, project, scholarship or more specific reason set forth by the donor.  There is nothing sought out in return for the gift.  Gifts are restricted accounts and must be expended according to the restrictions and/or guidelines of the donor.

Donor Intent

The ability to identify donor intent is a key component when ensuring that donor intent is implemented.  Donor intent is tracked as follows:

  • For gifts received by the University of Iowa Center for Advancement (UICA), donor intent is identified and maintained by the UICA as the Donor Intent Document (DID).
  • For gifts received by the University directly, donor intent is identified by the department of receipt by reviewing the documentation that was provided by the donor to ascertain the intent.  The documentation should be retained by the department as an official record of the gift for the active life of the gift.  Once the gift has expired (after final disbursement of gift funds and the WhoKey is closed for any new activity), the department must retain this information for three years.      

Anyone who has a role in administering the gift funds (e.g., purchasing decisions, reviewing transactions, approving expenditures, disbursement authority, etc.) must be knowledgeable of the donor intent.   

Setting up WhoKeys

UI WhoKeys track gift expenditures and must readily/easily support compliance monitoring for donor intent. To the extent possible, gifts should be tracked in unique UI WhoKeys and should not be co-mingled with other unlike gift funds (or non-gift funds). UI WhoKeys should be set up based on donor restrictions. Guidelines for setting up gift WhoKey grant/program numbers fall in three main areas:

  1. Gifts given with specific donor instructions/restrictions (for example, “use to support scholarships for a specific unit”), should be tracked in unique accounts as follows:
    • Generally, a unique UI WhoKey should be established.  We refer to this as a “One to One” relationship, one UI Center for Advancement account to one UI grant/program number. These gift Accounts should be established by incorporating the UICA account number in the grant/program number. As an example, the UICA account number 30-001-001 would be set up with UI grant number 80001001. The current UICA range of accounts is 30-000-001 to 30-762-999. The corresponding UI gift grant number range is 80001001 to 80762999.
    • For a Gift given with specific donor instructions/restrictions that is used to fund more than one project with the same donor intent may be tracked in separate UI WhoKeys. We refer to this as a “One to Many” relationship, one UICA account to many UI WhoKeys. These UI WhoKeys will not incorporate the UICA account number in the UI grant number.  Note: the UICA account number should be identified in the UI WhoKey purpose field.
  2. For Gifts given without specific restrictions (for example, “use at the discretion of a Unit head”), multiple UI gift accounts may be tracked in one UI grant number if they are consistent/similar in donor intent. This is a Many to One relationship, more than one UICA account funding one UI grant/program number. Note: the UICA account numbers should be identified in the UI WhoKey purpose field.
  3. Some central gift funds are used to support department or campus wide initiatives. Normally a “primary” gift WhoKey will be established in the unit that controls the gift funds and unique gift WhoKeys will be established within the various departments. An example of this would be when a collegiate unit has a development/discretionary account that is used to fund departmental projects. The same gift grant/program can be used across multiple departments or a unique gift grant/program can be established for the various departmental WhoKeys. When setting up the departmental gift accounts, the WhoKey purpose field should be used to identify the “primary” gift WhoKey.

UICA gift accounts established for gifts that are “Many to One” or” One to Many” will begin with 820xxxxx. Non-UI Center for Advancement gift accounts will begin with 821xxxxx.

Gift WhoKeys are normally set up with a fund 520. However, if the donor intent of the gift restricts the use of the gift funds to only scholarship costs, then fund 525 should be used.

Receipt of Gift Funds

While it is the University’s preference that gifts go through the UI Center for Advancement some gifts do come directly to the University. If the donor check is made out to the University of Iowa then the Department will request a gift account be set up through Request a Chartfiled in Employee Self Service to deposit the funds, see Request a New Gift Account for more information.

If it is determined that the check must be deposited directly to the university, the department is responsible for accurately identifying the funds as gift revenue by depositing it into a gift WhoKey (fund 520 or 525) and identifying the type of gift by assigning the appropriate gift revenue institutional account (4064, 4067, 4068, 4070, 4071, 4072 or 4073).  The department is also responsible for attaching any correspondence from the donor and a copy of the check within the eDeposit application.  The Grant Accounting Office (GAO) will use the documentation to provide the official university gift acknowledgement.     

A gift fee will be assessed against any gifts that are received directly by the university.  The gift fee is the same that is assessed by the UICA.


Reimbursements (as opposed to gifts) should be deposited using the same institutional account as the original expense.  Reimbursements should never be identified with gift revenue institutional accounts or any other type of revenue.  For example, if a gift account is used to pay for travel to a conference and the conference reimburses the UI for the some of the travel expenses, this should be deposited as a negative travel expense into the gift account.

Moving gift funds/expenditures

Occasionally, it may be necessary to move gift funds or expenditures from one WhoKey to another.  The following rules apply:

  • Non-gift revenue should not be moved to a gift WhoKey. 
  • Gift revenue should not be moved to a non-gift WhoKey.  Gift funds should be expended from the appropriate gift WhoKey. 
  • Expense institutional accounts (6000-6999) should not be used to move funds between gift and non-gift accounts.  For example, moving a lump sum amount using institutional account 6235 as an original Journal entry that is not related to an actual expense would not be appropriate.
  • If the donor intent is consistent between the accounts, funds can be moved between gift accounts, utilizing the transfer institutional accounts (35xx/75xx).  This is most commonly used to move funds from a centrally administrated account to a department specific account. 
  • When funding a gift WhoKey that is in deficit:
    • If the expenditures related to the deficit have occurred in the current fiscal year, actual expenditures must be moved using the appropriate system/application for the type of expenditure. 
    • If the expenditures occurred in a prior fiscal year, using a transfer institutional account may be appropriate, but GAO should review in advance.  Please contact the Gift Accountant in the GAO for further guidance.         

*WhoKey – Within the UI general ledger, a WhoKey will identify the unique combination of Fund, Org, Department/Subdepartment, Grant/Program, and Function.

Last updated  01/10/2023