Donations and Sponsorships In Support of UMaine Cooperative Extension Programs Guidelines

Glossary of Terms

Prospect: A prospective donor, i.e. an individual, company, foundation, or other organization that could potentially make a gift.

Donor: An individual, group or organization making a gift in support of your program or project. The donor may specify the gift is to be used for a specific purpose or be unrestricted. The donor may choose to make a gift outright or sign a UMaine pledge form committing to donate with specified details of the gift amount, time frame and payment options.

Gift: Also known as a donation, it may be the result of an active solicitation or as financial support from a donor. A gift can be targeted to a specific use or be for more general use and may  be available for use immediately or deferred until a later date (as specified in a donor’s will/estate plan); or in the form of property that can be sold with proceeds to support your program at a later date. The UMaine Foundation or the Maine 4-H Foundation creates the fund description with UMaine staff and donor(s) and facilitates the creation of gift accounts through the Financial Administrator for Cooperative Extension. The UMaine Foundation also acknowledges all donor gifts.

All gifts are processed through Extension’s Operations Office staff or the Maine 4-H Foundation staff that work in partnership with the UMaine Foundation. Extension’s Operations staff will show you how to access the program gift account for your program expenses.

Gifts in kind: Offers of gifts-in-kind, property or real estate, should be reviewed by UMaine administration before acceptance, to analyze potential risk.

Sponsor: Typically a business or group willing to support your program or project sponsorship must be well detailed and thought through in advance.  If a sponsor receives some benefit for the gift (such as a dinner, or major publicity), there may be a need to analyze what extent of the contribution is tax-deductible. The guidelines are based on federal IRS regulations.

Resource Development: The process of building relationships with donors and sponsors to attract funding, additional staffing (including volunteers), information and/or materials in support of your program.

Roles of Office of Research Administration (ORA)

ORA works in partnership with Extension’s Operations office to administer all grant proposals and resulting awards. All grant proposals must be processed through ORA and Extension’s Operations office.

Maine 4-H Foundation and Solicitation of Gifts

The Maine 4-H Foundation works in partnership with the UMaine Foundation. There are many gifts, donations, grants and funds that come through the Maine 4-H Foundation held as long-term endowed or restricted funds working to support the 4-H Youth Development program.

The Maine 4-H Foundation and UMaine Foundation are licensed to solicit gifts. Please work with the staff if you are planning to formally request a gift of cash, in-kind gifts or property. The State of Maine requires a license of solicitation to ask for gifts.

Donations and Sponsorships In Support of UMaine Cooperative Extension Programs Guidelines

Where do you begin? (Doing this background work upfront will be essential when pursuing external resources later.)

  • Check-in with your supervisor with your ideas; s/he can be helpful in:
    • Clarifying your intention and its connection with your plan of work; how it aligns with Extension’s mission and plan of work
    • Connecting you with other colleagues or organizations pursuing the same concept and exploring how other disciplines might add value
    • Identifying Extension resources that might be available to you before exploring external resources
    • Helping you think through the timing of the initiative
    • Determining the sustainability of your program or initiative. If the program does not have a specific end date, how will it continue after the initial funding period? How will you ensure its sustainability for program beneficiaries?
  • Check-in with the Maine 4-H Foundation Director (for youth programming) or Extension’s Resource Development staff who can help you:
    • Expand the insights of your supervisor
    • Confirm the legitimacy of potential funding sources
    • Identify possible donors/sponsors to contact
    • Think through the steps and time involved in this development work

Similar to the elements of the LOGIC model that we use in program development…

  1. Document the public need/issue; what is the geographic area of focus
  2. Outline your proposed programmatic action(s)
  3. Define the expected outcomes of your actions
  4. What resources do you bring to the initiative (people, money, information)
  5. What resources are needed; what is the gap?
  6. Have you already explored UMaine Extension resources with your supervisor’s input?
  7. Which colleagues can you partner with on this to discuss your initial thinking and explore ways to bring multiple perspectives and skills to the concept?

Where can you go for support in pursuing donors and sponsors?

1. With adequate lead time, the Maine 4-H Foundation Director and Extension staff can:

  • Review your draft proposal/concept and determine if the Maine 4-H Foundation is an appropriate funding source to support your initiative
  • Assist you in identifying and pursuing legitimate resources such as individual donors or corporate sponsors
  • Coach you in preparing proposals and preparing to meet with potential donors and sponsors, and if needed, accompany you in meeting with them
  • Work with the UMaine Foundation to identify major donor giving options to support your program; one resource is the research online database of funding sources called PIVOT, available through UMaine’s Fogler Library and the Office of Research Administration.

2. Connect all the dots in working through UMaine development policies and procedures

  • Please inform your Extension supervisor of your plans to approach individual donors, foundations, and businesses so that we may enter that activity into the Advance database to ensure that UMaine has a holistic view of activity with donors and prospective donors.

3. If you want to explore corporate or non-profit sponsors for your initiative…

  • Identify potential sponsors; ask yourself…
    • Who is interested in this issue?
    • What are the needs of the business you are pursuing, and how can you create a win-win relationship through a partnership?
    • Are there other groups you can partner with in pursuing external resources?
  • Research online the mission/goals of potential sponsors; do their goals align with Extension’s mission?
  • What is their recent focus and level of giving?
  • Whom do you know that might have a personal contact at that business, organization?

4. Follow their online charitable giving guidelines; if none exist, consider the following steps…

  • Submit a letter of inquiry stating your intent (your program goals and resource needs as outlined above), asking if they are interested in exploring a possible sponsorship.
  • Follow up the letter within one week with a phone call; if no interest, thank them for their time and ask if they know of others who might be interested; if yes, arrange a meeting to explore the idea further and answer any questions they might have.
  • If the meeting provides you the go-ahead, submit a concise proposal** in the format requested by the donor:
    • Documentation of need
    • Your capacity to carry out the action/program/project including plans for program sustainability
    • Funding needed with appropriate specificity.
    • Benefits to the sponsor: Publicity, sponsorship promotion on program materials, etc. — Please consult with your supervisor and the Communications Office on this. (Web Policies Regarding Recognition of Donations and Corporate Sponsorships.)

** If a funder requires specific deliverables and/or a timeline and/or financial accounting and final reporting their support may fall under the definition of a grant and not a gift. Please contact Extension’s Operations office if you have questions.

Following receipt of the donation or sponsorship…

  • Process all gifts through Extension’s Operations Office in Libby Hall; the staff work closely with the UM Foundation to ensure policies and procedures are followed
  • Implement the project and keep the donor/sponsor informed of progress
  • Evaluate and report on the project to stakeholders
  • Engage the donor/sponsor if they wish in any publicity highlighting the evaluation findings/impacts, citing what difference the program made. Note: We cannot promise donors publicity in the media since we have no control over what the media will cover. (Please work with the Communications Office on any donor-related publicity.)
  • The gift will be formally recognized by the University and a letter of thanks will be sent. However, you are welcome to send a personal letter of thanks to the donor/sponsor (if they do not wish to remain anonymous); do not cite any dollar amount in your letter, keep it generic; and convey your willingness to explore an ongoing relationship if needed, desired.