- Marian University has elected to not remove the name of a donor who fulfilled just under 25% of a $48 million pledge made 10 years ago in support of the school's now-constructed medical facility, Inside Higher Ed reports.
- University officials say the pledge was accepted with review of the donor's financial structure and outlook at the time, but changes in the marketplace have limited his ability to make full payment on the gift.
- Marian built contingencies around the proposed gift, and reports that increased enrollment and full usage of the medical facility have helped to off-set the losses of the unpaid pledge. Since 2001, the school's endowment has grown from $2.1 million to a projected $80 million for 2017.
Hundreds of colleges and universities across the country deal with unfulfilled financial gifts, and all have financial planning in place to make up for potential budget deficits. But what are the PR considerations involved in removing a name from a facility or making a claim against a donor?
In some cases, publicly changing a building name or seeking collection on a promised gift may disturb current and future prospects with other donors. Additionally, the mishandling of a donor relationship could create internal conflict on the development team, in which individuals can be territorial about donor relationships. Suing the estate of a deceased donor, like Duke University did this month, may not be the best idea, but could be the most reasonable and effective, if made in consultation with other families and individuals who support the philanthropic goals of a school.