Frequently Asked Questions
- Alumni & Donor Records
- Donor Relations
- Information Services
- Prospect Management
- Prospect Research
This department is part of NC State University’s Advancement Services and serves as the checkpoint for monitoring all donations to the university.
Q: If I want to contact the University concerning any biographical changes, can Alumni & Donor Records help?
Yes. Send your updates via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the help desk at 919.515.7827.
Q. What are the operating hours of the Help Desk?
A. The Alumni & Donor Records Help Desk can be reached between the hours of 8 am – 4 pm Monday through Friday by calling 919.515.7827 or by sending an e-mail anytime.
Q: My department recently sent a mass mailing to our alumni and friends. What do we do with all the change-of-address returns we receive from the US Postal Service?
A: Since Alumni & Donor Records relies on change-of-address information supplied by the US Postal Service for the majority of address updates, you should forward your returned mailing pieces via campus mail to:
Alumni & Donor Records
Campus Box 7474
Or, if you have courier service, to:
Alumni & Donor Records
Joyner Visitor Center
1210 Varsity Drive Ste 262
Raleigh, NC 27606-2084
Q: How can I get training to use Advance?
A: Please contact Information Services to schedule the required training.
Q: What types of credit cards are accepted through Advancement Services?
A: We can process Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. We require the name as printed on the card, a complete address and phone number on the transmittal.
Q: Can money from a foundation's Donor Advised Fund (e.g. Charitable Gift Fund) pay a donor's pledge?
A: No, the money is from the foundation, not the donor. The donation may not be used to satisfy any pledge or other personal financial obligation of the named donor. Donations from a donor advised fund are also not eligible for matching gifts.
Q: My donor wishes to make a donation for someone else, and the donor wants the other person to receive the receipt. Is this possible?
A: No, the receipt is always issued to the person whose name is on the check or credit card. The other person can receive soft credit but no receipt. This is a legal/IRS requirement. Donor Relations can write acknowledgement letters for the other person. For more information, please contact Donor Relations.
Q: What are matching gifts?
A: Matching gifts are corporate contributions that match the gifts made by employees. Often a gift will be matched on a one-to-one, two-to-one, or three-to-one ratio. Matching gifts count towards the recognition giving level societies. They are also an important source of funds for educational institutions. They are also an increasingly important way for companies to allow employees a means of directing a portion of monies earmarked for charitable contribution.
Q: How do I get a transcript?
A: Department of Registration and Records handles student information such as transcripts.
Q: What is an endowment?
A. An endowment is a long-term investment in the university that provides benefits to students, faculty or programs year after year, generation after generation. An endowed gift offers alumni and friends the opportunity to have their name or the name of a loved one, linked to an area of the university in which they have a special interest. Endowments can be unrestricted to provide maximum flexibility for the needs and challenges of the future. Or they can be restricted to a purpose such as an undergraduate scholarship, research support or towards a particular area or program.
Q. How does an endowment work?
A. The donor stipulates that the principal (endowment corpus) must be invested and that only a portion of the income may be expended to carry out the donor’s purpose as designated in a memorandum of understanding. To guard against the eroding consequences of inflation, the remaining portion of investment return is then added to the principal. New gifts, long-term investment performance and a prudent spending policy influence the growth of endowments. The goal is to ensure that the principal maintains its purchasing power over time to support future generations.
Q. Why are endowments important to NC State University?
A. An endowment creates financial stability, allowing NC State to be less dependent on unpredictable sources of revenue, such as state appropriations and research sponsorship.
Endowments support initiatives that promote excellence at NC State — scholarships and fellowships for our students, professorships for distinguished faculty, and research and program support.
Q. What are the minimum amounts for establishing endowments and how can an endowment be established at NC State University?
A. The university’s minimum amount to establish an endowment is $15,000.00. Endowments can be established through outright or planned gifts. See www.ncsu.edu/development/endowment.html or www.ncsu.edu/development/foundationsandassociations.html for further information.
Q. What legal requirements regulate endowments?
A. The Uniform Management of Institutional Funds Act (UMIFA) adopted in 1985 in North Carolina prohibits the spending of the endowment corpus. The total return on the endowment investment (capital appreciation and income) may be spent. The amount available for spending is limited to accumulated net earnings of an endowment. If no accumulated net earnings exist, regardless of the size of the endowment, no awards or spending can be made.
Q. Who will oversee my endowment in support of NC State University?
A. There are 13 entities that hold at NC State University. Depending on the entity, each has their respective Board of Directors and Investment Committee who have the legal fiduciary responsibility for endowment oversight.
Q. How are endowment investments managed at NC State University?
A. Most of the endowments are invested in the NC State Investment Fund, Inc. (NCSIF), an external investment pool established April 1,1999. The university strives to preserve both the corpus and the spending power of the endowments. Asset allocation is the cornerstone of the endowment’s investment policy and a key responsibility of the NCSIF Members Board. The overall investment objective is to earn a total net return equal to the sum of inflation plus the spending rate. Other endowments not invested with the NCSIF are managed by their respective Boards or with Academy Centennial Fund, LLC, a limited liability corporation which seeks venture capital opportunities that are related to NC State.
Q. What is asset allocation?
A. Asset allocation is the manner in which endowment funds are distributed among the various long-term investment options. It is a major factor in maximizing portfolio return and should take into consideration an acceptable risk level. The mix between stocks and bonds is an example of asset allocation.
Q. How is spending determined?
A. Spending policies are set by the various Boards of the entities that support the University. Generally, spending is computed as 4% of the average market value of the previous 12 quarters of the fund (referred to as a “three-year rolling average”)
The annual increase in spending is limited to consumer price index + 1% in most cases.
The Foundations use this averaging method in order to provide steady spending budget.
Q. How soon will new endowments start to spend for programmatic purposes?
A. New endowments must wait one complete fiscal investment return.
Q. What happens to any excess returns in the endowment?
Any earnings beyond the amount needed for programmatic spending are added back to principal to promote growth and protect against inflation for future programs. These excess returns, called spending reserves, also provide available dollars in down periods of the market.
Q. What happens when investment returns are negative?
A. An endowment may use excess returns, also called spending reserves. Spending reserves are prior years’ excess returns and unused spending budgets that have been reinvested. There can be NO spending if spending reserves are not available.
Q. Why would there be an unused spending budget?
A. Restricted endowments, such as scholarships, have a defined purpose as well as donor-defined and university-defined criteria for making awards. Sometimes, these criteria cannot be satisfied and the award is not made that year. In the case of scholarships and fellowships, the university makes every reasonable effort to find a student match and make the award.
Q. What is an underwater endowment?
A. An endowment that, through declining market performance, has used all spending reserves and appreciation and has begun to erode the original gift value, or corpus. There can be NO spending from underwater endowments.
Q. If my endowment is underwater, how can my program or scholarship continue to be funded?
A. The donor has the option of making an additional annual contribution designated for current spending. This will not affect the endowment principal and will provide another year for the market to recover. The university is dedicated to continue an investment policy focused on long-term growth and performance, as well as adhering to a prudent spending policy.
Q. My donor wishes to make a donation for someone else, and the donor wants the other person to receive the receipt. Is this possible?
A. No, the receipt is always issued to the person whose name is on the check or credit card. The other person can receive soft credit but no receipt. This is a legal/IRS requirement. Donor Relations can write acknowledgement letters for the other person. For more information, please contact Donor Relations.
Q: Who should I contact for more information about Information Services?
A: To receive information about Information Services, please e-mail Wes Ardoin, Manager of Information Services or call 919.515.9077.
Q. Where is your office located and what is your mailing address?
A. Our office is located at 1210 Varsity Drive near the intersection of Western Boulevard and Gorman Street, adjacent to McKimmon Conference Center. We are located in the back of Advancement Services on the second floor of the E. Carroll Joyner Visitor Center.
The mailing address is:
Campus Box 7474
Raleigh, NC 27695-7474
Or, if you have courier service:
Joyner Visitor Center Ste 225
Raleigh, NC 27606-2084
Q. Who should I contact to get a report?
A. Please complete the Advancement Services Online Report request form. If you are unable to access the online form, please e-mail your request to Lisa McCain-Jackson.
Q. How long will I need to wait for a request to be completed?
A. If certain reports are requested on a regular basis, they can be created as a standard report. The requests for these reports will have a minimal turnaround time. For new requests, or if requesting significant changes to a previous report, please allow a turn-around time of five business days to complete the request.
Q. I need a list of alumni in a specific geographical location. What information should I submit?
A. Please specify the location along with the zip code, if possible. Specify the fields needed in the report. For example, Id, name, address, (home and/or business) telephone number(s), degree information, etc.
Q. In what format will the data be returned?
A. We can forward the data in Excel, Word, pdf, or a text file. You can receive the requested information via e-mail or we can provide you with a CD in a format that can be used for mail merges or sent to a mailing house. If you do not specify a particular format, your report will be submitted in an Excel format.
Q. Can we get mailing labels printed?
A. Yes, we can print mailing labels for you. You can pick up the labels at our office or we can mail them to you through campus mail.
Q. If I see information on an alumnus in Advance™ that I know is inaccurate, who do I contact to make those changes in the database?
A. To keep our records as accurate as possible, we ask you forward any information you have about an alumnus or anyone in the database to Alumni & Donor Records via campus mail at:
Alumni & Donor Records
Campus Box 7474
Or, if you have courier service, to:
Alumni & Donor Records
Joyner Visitor Center
1210 Varsity Drive Ste 262
Raleigh NC 27606-2084
Q. Who do I contact to get access to Advance™?
A. To obtain access to Advance™, you must first be registered in payroll and have a Unity id. You will need a unity id and password to login to My Pack Portal. After logging in, you will have to view the Information Security Acknowledgement form and click "I Agree." Once your request has been processed, you will receive notice of access and your system id. You will receive e-mail notification of your access and system ID. Once you have received this e-mail, you should e-mail Wes Ardoin or call 919.515.9077 to set up Advance™ training. You will not be given access to Advance™ until you go through training.
Q. Is it okay to let someone use my Advance™ login until they get access themselves?
A. No, it is not! Because you sign a compliance agreement for confidentiality before you are given access to any University system, it is against University policy to share your system ID with anyone.
Q. What is the difference between Major Gift Officers and Development Officers?
A. Major Gift Officers (MGOs) ask for gifts of $25,000 or greater. Development Officers (DOs) ask for gifts less than $25,000. All gifts are important!
Q. Where can I get a copy of the Prospect Management Best Practices?
A. Click on the above link to download the guidelines.
Q. What about prospect assignments?
A. Requests for assignment and assignment removal are made from within Advance.
Q. What are Principal Gift Prospects?
A. Although NC State has many prospects who might be considered VIPs, principal gift prospects are those who have the capacity to fulfill a five year pledge of or to make a gift of $5 million and who can be actively engaged by the Chancellor.
Q. When should contact reports be entered on Advance?
A. Contact reports should be entered within 15 business days after the contact or contact attempt has occurred. The sooner you enter the information, the more details you will remember!
Q. When is it a Visit? When is it an Event?
A. All visits are face-to-face. A visit contact report should include information that informs the formulation of the next strategy steps toward the gift. Discovery (initial) visit contact reports should contain specifics on the prospect’s philanthropic giving, interest in NC State, interest in your area, capacity to give, and inclination to give. Subsequent cultivation visit contact reports should include any updates on the above items and should include the development officer sharing the case for support (along with the accompanying support information) for the university and department and/or college. The visit contact report should include the reason for the visit. Events are social occasions where the prospect is not moved forward in the giving pipeline as a result of this encounter and no substantial new information is discovered.
Q: How does Prospect Research get information?
A:Remember writing research papers in school? The prospect research process is very similar. Almost all of the information we use is gathered from published (public) sources, like magazines, newspapers, journals, directories, web pages, and databases. We also use information that donors self report (e.g., updates for the alumni directory) and information gathered by university personnel.
It is always important to remember, however, that public information has limitations, including the following:
- Accuracy – Prospect research uses information sources generally regarded by the profession as accepted, reputable and reliable. Even in these sources, however, there are instances of human error, and, occasionally, deliberate misreporting, such that researchers cannot guarantee complete accuracy in their information sources.
- Source – Not all information is public, and what is public does not just appear - it must be generated, pulled or gathered from somewhere. Ultimately, public information comes from one, or a combination of, the following sources:
- Volunteered Information - The information found in profiles published by Dun and Bradstreet or Marquis’ Who’s Who, and that gathered by the US Census, comes from solicited information; responses to those solicitations are voluntary and self-reported. Even the information found in local periodicals has usually been volunteered to a writer. If a person isn’t required by law to report specific information, the level of detail found is, to a large extent, dependent upon what a person chooses to divulge.
- Regulatory Reporting – Federal, state, and local governments collect information that, unless specifically prohibited by law, is available to the general public. Required state corporate filings, foundation financial reporting, real estate records, federal election campaign records, and SEC insider stock transactions are all examples of information that is collected through regulatory processes.
- Statistical Modeling – Estimated giving capacity indicators produced by a wealth-screening vendor is an example of statistical modeling. Statistical modeling is simply the application of some algorithmic formula to existing data in order to make an estimate or come to a conclusion.
Q: How do I submit a research request?
A: Research requests on individuals and corporations should be submitted via the request form in Advance. For any other type of requests, please contact the Director of Prospect Research, Tania Drummond, directly via email at email@example.com or by phone (919) 515.1105.
Q: Does a prospect have to be registered before I can request information from Prospect Research?
A: Yes, a prospect has to be registered and a visit or significant contact has to be recorded in a contact report on Advance™ before research can be requested. For unqualified discovery prospects, Research will, however, attempt to establish an initial gift capacity estimate and, in certain circumstances, may assist with finding up-to-date business contact and job title information.
Q: How does Prospect Research prioritize requests, or in what order does Prospect Research respond to requests?
A: Generally speaking, we respond to requests from or for the Chancellor first, followed by requests from University Advancement administrators (the Vice Chancellor, Associate Vice Chancellors), and then college or area gift officers. Again, in general, requests from college or area gift officers will be addressed in the order they’re received. However, know that we make every attempt possible to work equitably with the multiple areas of development and to accommodate development officers who have unexpected opportunities for contact with significant donors or prospective donors.
Q: Once I make a research request, how long does it take to get information back?
A: When information can get back to you depends on the combination of a number of factors, including such things as:
- What type of information you’ve requested
- How much information is publicly available on an individual
- If we’ve already done some research on the individual and have some information in the files
- How many and what type of requests are already in the queue
- If requests are driven by specific deadlines, such as a scheduled meeting with a donor or board
- If there are requests from the Chancellor or University Advancement administration that need to be completed
- How much research work has recently been done for your college or area – in other words, if there is a need to put other requests ahead of yours in order to equitably respond to multiple areas of development
- How many Prospect Research staff are available (e.g., staff out on leave)
Here are some very broad guidelines, noting that any or all of the above may affect response times:
- Researchers will try to respond to short, specific requests (i.e., the name of a spouse, a URL for a foundation) as quickly as possible, but within 24 hours of the request.
- Researchers will try to respond to more in-depth, specific requests (i.e., wealth indicators, areas of philanthropic interest, summarizing existing file information) within two-to-three days of the request.
- If you request “anything” or “everything” we can find on a prospective donor, we’ll prepare a full biographical profile for you; on average this takes two-to-three working days, but some profiles on very prominent or famous people have taken as much as a week to complete.
Q: How will Research get information back to me? Will research be stored in Advance™?
A: Information will most often be returned to you as a Microsoft Word document attached to electronic mail. Research work products will also be stored in Entity Notes on prospects’ records in Advance™.
Q: Do you send information to Alumni and Donor Records so they can update Advance™?
A: If, during the course of conducting research, we find information related to a donor that can be stored in Advance™ and is not currently housed there, or is housed there and needs to be updated, we will forward that information to Alumni and Donor Records. Development officers who themselves uncover new or updated information on donors should e-mail that information directly to Alumni and Donor Records.
Q: How can I make the most of working with Prospect Research?
A: So glad you asked! Here are a few suggestions:
- Remember prospect research does have some limitations.
It’s helpful to always keep in mind that our work relies primarily on public information sources, and much of the information you’d like to have about a donor isn’t public (e.g., we can’t tell you what’s in someone’s bank account or investment portfolio or on their tax return). Please ask us if you have any questions about what types of information are public or what prospect research can and cannot provide.
- Remember it takes time to conduct solid research.
How much time we have to work on a request affects the quality of information you get. When we get last minute requests, sometimes all we can provide is what we already have on file (which may be dated) or only information that’s very easily obtained (and hasn’t been double-checked). If you can plan ahead to strategically use prospect research, you’re more likely to receive a better quality, more thorough product.
- Provide information about donors.
Development officers often gather the best and most useful information about donors during interactions with them. The information you provide to us supplements what we can find publicly to create a more complete picture of a donor’s capacity, interests and willingness to give. It’s great when you complete your contact reports while the information is still fresh in your mind, and get them into Advance™ as quickly as possible (by the way, Advance™ is the first place we look for information!).
- Provide information about what you’re trying to accomplish and the challenges you face.
We can’t promise to solve all your problems, but maybe we can help! For example, if you tell us that you’re looking for donors for a specific program, then we’ll search a foundation database for possible funding sources, or if you’re having trouble getting access to a donor, we can search for networking contacts who might get you in the door.
- Be specific when you make your research request.
A detailed request is effective, because you’re more likely to get the information you want, and efficient, because we don’t spend time looking for the wrong thing or information you really don’t want. Specifics are especially helpful when we can’t ask you questions about the request (i.e., when you’re traveling).
- Let us ask you questions – sometimes lots of questions!
When we ask you questions, we’re trying to make sure we clearly understand you; we’re not trying to justify your research request. Asking questions helps us make certain you get the information you want or need, helps us make sure we don’t spend valuable time looking for the wrong information, and sometimes uncovers a lead we might not have known about otherwise.
- Ask us questions – sometimes lots of questions!
The more you understand about what we do, the better we’ll be able to work together to achieve the same goal – increasing donor support to NC State University.