Frequently Asked Questions
Supporting UB and the community
How does the UB Foundation work for the betterment of the university?
The UB Foundation plays a vital role in helping the University at Buffalo establish, expand and enhance its reputation as a leading public research institution. We are proud to support and promote UB’s activities and programs by assisting in the acquisition of strategic assets, managing and providing resources, and making an array of services available for the university community.
What types of services does the UB Foundation provide?
We help the University at Buffalo achieve its goals for the betterment of faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community. In general, we provide financial services, real estate management, and many other key services that help advance UB, including:
- Supporting scholarships, faculty research, and recruitment of top talent to the university
- Managing investments (including the endowment) for the betterment of UB
- Attracting donations through effective gift stewardship
- Facilitating construction for the betterment of the university
- Providing UB with the financial flexibility enjoyed by private colleges and universities
Our myriad services have helped UB save millions of dollars, meet the increasing demand for on-campus housing, and further its goals in economic development.
About the UB Foundation
What type of foundation is the UB Foundation?
We are a public charity, commonly known as a 501(c)(3) organization. Unlike other foundations (including family foundations), we do not focus solely on philanthropy, and we do not manage fundraising for UB (which is handled by University Advancement). Rather, we are typical of many campus-related foundations at other leading colleges and universities. Please note that each affiliate is an independent 501(c)(3) entity.
What is the benefit of the UB Foundation’s status as an independent, private organization?
As an independent, private entity, we have the flexibility and responsiveness needed to better UB, our community, and our state and local taxpayers. For example, when UB wanted to develop the new Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, the UB Foundation was able to secure the necessary land quickly and efficiently—saving the university and the taxpayers an estimated $8.4 million in construction-related costs.
What privacy standards does the UB Foundation follow?
The privacy standards we follow are protected by New York State law, and supported by a ruling from the New York State Supreme Court. Operating as a private entity is considered a best practice for campus-related foundations nationwide, because it provides universities with betterments that are widely believed to be very helpful in achieving their mission.
How is the UB Foundation organized?
We are made up primarily of seven separate affiliated entities. Each one of these affiliates provides specific expertise, insight and value in a key area that supports UB’s mission. For example, one affiliate is focused on student housing, another holds the endowment, and another supports university faculty and staff who receive external awards.
Who works for the UB Foundation?
UB Foundation Activities, Inc. has both paid staff and volunteer board members; none of the other affiliates has employees (but they do have additional volunteers). As part of our service to UB, the UB Foundation provides payroll administration for UB faculty and staff who are funded with UB Foundation resources.
How is the UB Foundation committed to transparency and accountability?
- We follow business practices that are consistent with best practices among campus-related foundations nationwide
- We provide audited financial statements and 990s, as well as details about the performance of the endowment, on this website
- We file annual information returns with the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Department of Labor, New York State Attorney General, New York State Charities Bureau, and New York State Department of Financial Services
- We are audited yearly by an independent public accountant and periodically by federal and state authorities
- Our donors receive acknowledgements for donations, and annual stewardship reports on endowments
Fundraising and gifts
Does the UB Foundation set fundraising priorities for UB?
No. UB sets priorities for its fundraising; the UB Foundation supports the university. Our job is to ensure that each donor’s gift is used as intended, whether a donor chooses to support an academic unit or program, establish a scholarship for students in need, or establish an endowed chair.
How does the UB Foundation attract resources for UB?
The UB Foundation accepts funds from the private sector. Many of these donors prefer to make their gifts to private, independent organizations like the UB Foundation, rather than to state or public entities.
Does the UB Foundation handle fundraising?
Fundraising for the University at Buffalo—a critical endeavor, given declining state funding and other factors—is conducted primarily through UB’s University Advancement, and in collaboration with other units throughout UB. We support the university’s fundraising needs by providing transactional services, ensuring the gifts are allocated as designated, and providing receipts and tax documentation to donors.
How does the UB Foundation’s status as an independent, private organization benefit donors?
- Give donors the flexibility to specify how their gift should be used
- Protect each donor’s privacy—and his or her personal financial information—by not disclosing gift agreements
- Uphold our responsibility to represent the interests of donors, often in perpetuity
Are gifts for UB tax deductible?
Yes. Gifts in support of UB go through the UB Foundation—a public charity as defined by the IRS (Section 501(c)(3)). Please check with your tax advisor for details.
What is an endowment?
Endowments are primarily privately donated funds provided by donors to be invested and held in perpetuity, providing guaranteed income to support various areas throughout the university. Endowments help supplement and protect against declines in other revenues such as tuition, fees and state appropriations. Endowments allow for continued university support, including chairs and professorships; student scholarships, awards, internships and learning opportunities; research opportunities; specialized lectures; study-abroad opportunities; acquisitions for the libraries; classrooms and labs; athletics facilities; emergency reserves and more.
Who manages and invests the endowment?
The endowment is managed under the supervision of UB Foundation’s board investment committee. Committee members have extensive capital market and/or finance experience. More than 80 professional investment management firms currently share in the administration of the portfolio.
What is the investment policy and philosophy?
The primary investment objective is to maximize total investment return while preserving the inflation-adjusted purchasing power of the portfolio. Practically speaking, this means the trustees seek to provide substantial and self-sustaining funding for each endowment’s purpose while maintaining principal value so endowments continue to provide a perpetual source of income. Total investment return is the sum of interest, dividends and capital appreciation.
Who decides how the spendable return is utilized?
Following donor intent (as well as legally enforceable conditions of the gift agreement), UB Foundation allocates funds to benefit designated departments within the university. From there, appropriate qualified personnel within that department are selected as signatories for the endowment account and granted authority to spend the funds available in the spendable account in compliance with donor expectations.
What is the spending policy?
Spending is defined as funds made available annually from the Long-Term Portfolio for university programs and administrative expenses. Spending rates must account for numerous considerations, including strategic priorities, regulatory requirements and the interests of beneficiaries (including future generations). Based on these (and other) factors, spending on university programs will be approximately 4% of the donor’s entire original contribution after the first full year of participation in the Long-Term Portfolio. Afterwards, spending will increase at the average rate of inflation, not to exceed 3%, regardless of market performance. These spending rates, which are typically conservative, are set by the Board of Trustees of the UB Foundation and governed by the New York Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (NYPMIFA). This approach is designed to provide a stable, predictable and appropriate annual stream of funds for use that maintains the endowment’s purchasing power and real value over time.
How are endowments evaluated?
Numerous metrics can be used to evaluate endowments, including:
- Total value of financial assets
- Investment performance returns
- Percentage of operating expenses supported by the endowment
- Endowment value per student
- Endowment value relative to total expenditures
- Endowment value to debt value
Ultimately, the full impact of an endowment cannot be measured by any one metric. Its true worth depends on how well it aligns with institutional spending priorities, and how the endowment is applied to produce value for society.
Information about endowments includes research and references from the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB).