Frequently Asked Questions

Foundation FactsFundraisingGift TypesGift-Making Methods


Foundation Facts

What is the UNI Foundation?
The University of Northern Iowa Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1959. The mission of the UNI Foundation is to grow and sustain private resources and build relationships to support the University of Northern Iowa, its students, faculty, staff and programs.

Why is the Foundation separate from the University of Northern Iowa?
The UNI Foundation is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization, separate from the University. About 80% of public colleges and universities have such foundations and this arrangement offers several advantages:

  • Confidentiality. By law, the Foundation is able to keep confidential gift records, wills, trust agreements, correspondence, and other personal documents related to gifts.
  • Security. Funds given to the UNI Foundation for designated purposes can only be used for those purposes. The small amount of funds given as undesignated gifts can be used only for purposes designated by the Foundation's Board of Trustees. No other agency, including the State, can designate how these funds will be used.
  • Return on investment. State statutes limit how state institutions can invest their funds. The Foundation, subject to different, but equally stringent, rules and regulations, can realize a significantly higher return on the endowment.
  •  Flexibility. Gift funds can also be used for purposes specified by the donor that State monies cannot, for example, to create new faculty positions at times when State funds for positions are frozen.

Who governs the Foundation?
The Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees. The University of Northern Iowa President is a voting member. 

What services does the Foundation provide for UNI?
The University of Northern Iowa Foundation is designated as the central fundraising agency for the University of Northern Iowa. The Foundation conducts campaigns for university priorities and provides central services to support fundraising, growth of the endowment, administration, compliance, donor stewardship and other areas.

How does the Foundation invest the gifts it receives?
The Foundation's Trustees and staff are deeply committed to providing excellent stewardship of gifts the Foundation receives. The Trustees' Investment Committee confers every other month with our investment counselor to review the performance of our funds. Thanks to this careful oversight, the Foundation's investment funds have regularly outperformed the market norms. The Trustees follow a diversified asset allocation strategy with the goal to participate in the market when it is up and preserve and protect the investments when the market is down. 

Can the public see costs?
As a private, non-profit organization, the UNI Foundation completes and makes public its tax return, Form 990. It is available to view at and This form breaks out the Foundation's revenues and expenses, which include salaries, accounting and legal fees, supplies, telephone, postage, publications, professional services and equipment. To view the UNI Foundation's annual audited financial statement visit

Does the Foundation make grants?
The Foundation is a fund-raising rather than a fund-granting institution. About 95% of the gifts it receives have been designated by donors for specific purposes and are restricted for these purposes. From the small pool of unrestricted gifts it receives, the Foundation allocates funds to the university for areas of greatest need.



Why does a state university need private support?
Although UNI is a public institution with a mandate to serve the people of Iowa, the State of Iowa does not fund all the costs of a UNI education. In fact, over the past thirty years, the percentage of these costs funded by the State has decreased -- and at a greater rate than educational costs have risen. Today, State funding covers only about 41.3% of the cost of a UNI undergraduate education for Iowa residents. The remainder is covered by tuition, state and federal grants and gifts from private donors.

To give UNI students the highest quality learning environment and to ensure that a UNI education continues to be affordable, private support has taken on an enhanced significance. The UNI Foundation is committed to providing the necessary resources to assist the University of Northern Iowa with its priorities:

  1. Be the leading undergraduate institution in Iowa
  2. Be the leader in preK-12 education issues in Iowa and the nation
  3. Enhance the economic, social and cultural development of Iowa
  4. Be a university committed to diversity and sustainability.

How do UNI students benefit from the funds raised by the UNI Foundation?
Because UNI puts its students first, the Foundation addresses the challenges that face students in gaining access to the best education and services the university has to offer. Private support provides funds for scholarships, capital projects and for academic and student service programs.

Who sets the fundraising priorities?
The UNI Foundation's fund raising goals reflect the goals of the University's strategic plan. The goals for fundraising campaigns are developed in consultation with UNI's president, provost, deans and directors with the concurrence of the Foundation's management group and Board of Trustees.

These goals encompass all aspects of the university. Foundation staff will be pleased to work with donors interested in making a gift to support any program or project that fits within the university's mission and plan.

Why do I get requests for contributions more than once a year?
UNI alumni and friends are contacted annually by the UNI Annual Fund to request unrestricted gifts that can be used as needed to support various areas of the university. Other academic departments and university programs also reach out to alumni requesting support specifically for their programs such as Deans' Funds for Excellence, Gallagher-Bluedorn or the Panther Scholarship Club.


Gift Types

What is the difference between a restricted and an unrestricted gift?
A restricted gift will be used only for the purpose designated by the donor. You can restrict the use of your gift to support an activity or program of interest to you and your family. If you are interested in providing a gift that is restricted to a particular program, we request that you contact the University of Northern Iowa Foundation. Our staff will assist you in formulating language that will insure the maximum usefulness for your gift.

Unrestricted gifts offer the donor the opportunity to assist programs where the need is greatest and may be used in a number of areas within the university as determined by university officials.

How do I direct my gift to a college, department, or program of my choice?
Gifts can be designated to a specific college or program. Each gift will be used for the purpose designated by the donor, provided that purpose is feasible and appropriate to the university's mission. Some purposes, such as scholarship endowments and professorships, do require certain minimum funding levels. If you wish to restrict a gift, make note on your check, online giving form or call the UNI Foundation.

Where does my contribution go if I don't direct it toward a specific fund?
Unrestricted gifts in excess of $10,000 will be directed to the Vision Fund and will be designated by the UNI Foundation Board of Trustees for the area of greatest need. All other unrestricted contributions to the Foundation are deposited to our UNI Annual Fund, which provides resources for creating new scholarships, program support and other campus priorities.

What is an endowment?
An endowment is a permanent fund, established within the University of Northern Iowa Foundation that provides support for a designated scholarship, academic program or faculty position. Only a portion of the income earned by the endowment fund can be spent; the principal will remain intact for perpetuity. Endowments designated for certain purposes (e.g. scholarship, professorship, chair) require different minimum funding levels to guarantee sufficient income to support that purpose.

Endowments offer donors the opportunity to create lasting legacies that will benefit future UNI students. Foundation staff will be pleased to work with you and representatives of the UNI program of your choice to help you establish an endowed fund in the UNI Foundation. Contact us at

Can I make a gift in honor or memory of someone?
We are happy to acknowledge gifts made in honor or in memory of individuals and will send a notice of your gift to a family member or friend of the person being honored. (Please send us the name and address.) We will not include the amount donated unless you specify to do so. You will also receive a receipt for your gift.

How do I participate in my company's matching gift program?
Many employers will match the charitable gifts of employees, thereby doubling or tripling the value of their gifts. Some employers even match the gifts of retirees and/or spouses.

To make a matching gift, ask your company's matching gift officer (usually in the human resources or community relations department) for a matching gift form. Then, send it along with your gift to the UNI Foundation.


Gift-Giving Methods

How can I make a gift of cash to the UNI Foundation?
A gift to the UNI Foundation can be made with a single payment or a pledge payable over several years. If you wish to make a multi-payment pledge, the UNI Foundation can set up a schedule of payment reminders for you.

Checks for gifts of cash should be made out to the UNI Foundation and mailed to 121 Commons, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614-0239.

Gifts may also be paid by credit card or, for UNI employees, through payroll deduction or online. Contact the Foundation for additional information at 319-273-6078 or 1-800-782-9522 or e-mail at

Can I give online?
The UNI Foundation provides a safe and secure on-line giving option. Look for the "Give Now" link on the right-hand side of each page on our website, Fill the form out completely, and, if you wish to restrict your gift, indicate the UNI program or activity that you would like to support. Then, click 'Submit Your Pledge.' You will receive receipt of your gift by e-mail and in written form from the UNI Foundation Financial Services office.

What are other ways of making a gift to the UNI Foundation?
A gift may be paid through:

  • Negotiable securities
  • Closely held stock with an established value
  • Real estate
  • Personal property
  • Charitable trusts and annuities
  • Provision in a will
  • Life insurance
  • Beneficiary designation gifts (Life insurance, IRA, annuity)

To learn more about these various methods, see "Giving Opportunities". UNI Foundation staff would be pleased to discuss the various advantages that each method offers.

Can someone at the UNI Foundation help arrange a gift that requires some financial planning?
Yes. For information about planned gifts such as trusts, annuities, bequests, etc., please contact the UNI Foundation. We will be pleased to work with you and your financial advisor to arrange this type of gift. For more information, contact the UNI Foundation at (319) 273-6078, 1-800-782-9522 or e-mail at

Is my gift to the UNI Foundation tax-deductible?
Yes, gifts to the UNI Foundation are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law. You must claim a gift as an itemized deduction on your tax return. You will receive a printed receipt for your gift.

How do I include UNI in my will or trust?
Visit the UNI Planned Giving website for gift and estate planning tips or contact our planned giving office at 319-273-6078 or 800-782-9522 with any questions you have about supporting UNI through your estate plans.

I have more questions about giving - whom do I contact?
Please contact the UNI Foundation - 204 Commons, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614-0282 for more information. Telephone: 319-273-6078, 1-800-782-9522 or e-mail



What does the Foundation do with gifts it receives?
The UNI Foundation directs your gifts exactly for the purpose you specify. Foundation staff work closely with donors and with university administrators to assure the highest standards of integrity in investing and spending these funds. Approximately 95% of the funds we receive are "restricted" gifts, that is, gifts designated by donors for specific purposes. The Foundation places these restricted gifts into an appropriate account in the Foundation. The designation is confirmed a receipt is sent to the donor. From the small pool of unrestricted gifts the Foundation receives, it allocates funds to the university for areas of greatest need.

How does the Foundation make sure that the funds it receives are spent for the purposes intended by donors?
A "Statement of Gift Intent" is created with the donor to specify uses of the funds. The Foundation's Financial Services carefully monitors expenditures made directly from UNI Foundation accounts. The Foundation transfers funds to the university for the purposes specified by the donor, and the university's business office then monitors the expenditure of these funds. An independent audit by a certified public accounting firm is done each year in accordance with U.S. generally accepted auditing standards.

How are student scholarship recipients chosen?
Scholarship recipients are chosen by faculty, department heads, deans, financial aid officers, or a combination of these. Scholarship recipients are selected according to the scholarship guidelines written, in consultation with each donor, at the time the scholarship is established. The UNI Foundation administers the funds for scholarships supported by private gifts. The University of Northern Iowa also receives financial aid funds from federal, state, and university sources. These funds are managed by the university's financial aid office.

What information does the UNI Foundation provide about its operations?
The Foundation is committed to retaining the public trust. The Foundation openly discloses information about its policies and activities, its financial statements, and other information to further understanding of its mission and operations.

The following items are available to the public:

Copies of these items are available during regular business hours at the UNI Foundation Office, 204 Commons, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614-0282.

How is the Foundation funded?
The UNI Foundation's fundraising and fund managing expenses are offset in several ways. The Foundation's operational costs are covered by income sources that include university reimbursements for salaries and related support services for Foundation development officers who focus their efforts on individual UNI colleges and other units; a percentage of earnings on invested gifts; a one-time modest fee on gifts; and unrestricted gifts designated by the Foundation Board of Trustees to support the Foundation's operations. 

You can be assured that, if you designate your gift for a specific UNI program or purpose, it will be used for the purpose you specify. 

Who audits the Foundation's books?
A certified public accounting firm annually audits the UNI Foundation. Copies of its audited financial statement (990) can be found at and

What is the Foundation's Tax Identification Number?
The Tax Identification Number for the Foundation is: 42-6058591