Gifts in kind offer unique partnership

By Nancy Koeneman

Thousands of pounds of animal food, 60 acres of land, 600 bushels of corn, a rock specimen collection and computer software. What do they have in common? All were valuable gifts given to the UI.

Called gifts in kind, they can be used in the university's mission, can be liquidated for cash, auctioned or given away as prizes at UI friend-making events, or are products and services that can be used in day-to-day operations at the UI.

"Gifts in Kind often provide a creative way in which the donor can enter into a partnership with the university," said Pat Justice, assistant chancellor for Development and associate deputy director of the UI Foundation.

Departments across the UI campus receive a variety of gifts in kind from alumni, friends, organizations, local businesses and corporations.

"It's fairly normal for us to receive gifts in kind," said Terry Rathgeber, associate dean in the College of Veterinary Medicine. "A small gift just last month was a freezer and refrigerator from a staff member for the wildlife ward."

A large gift four years ago has provided an excellent teaching and research tool and invaluable public relations for the participants in the gift.

"We have an outdoor pig operation at Dixon Springs that was totally a gift in kind of both equipment and livestock" Rathgeber said. "It was a gift of six figures. The Dixon Springs operation has increased our visibility with swine producers and it didn't hurt [the companies who donated the facility and stock] because people know where the equipment and pigs come from."

One gift, which is known simply as The Trakehner Horses, is a much more complicated package. This gift came with strings attached.

The university was notified a year ago it was the lead beneficiary of a trust from a farm in northern Illinois. The condition was that in order to be the primary beneficiary of the trust, which includes farm property and a number of horses, the College of Veterinary Medicine must care for 18 of the horses, animals near and dear to the heart of the donor.

The university wouldn't normally take a gift of animals, with a guarantee to care for them, Rathgeber explained. But because of benefits to taking the horses and the farm, this was an opportunity that worked.

"The real issue here is that as a teaching institution these mares and stallions provide a teaching laboratory for students in equine reproduction. The only restriction is that invasive procedures are prohibited."

One of the horses, Troubadour, participated in the Olympics in Korea, and was ridden by a member of the Swiss team. The breeding fees of another of the horses are helping to pay for the keep of the whole group.

"The stallion fees for Troy (one of the four stallions in the group of 18) are $1,500. That goes a long way toward buying hay for all of them. He was used 10 or 12 times this past year and will be used more extensively next year," Rathgeber said.

"The horses have become ambassadors for the college; bigger than we ever imagined. We can't weigh what their [public relations] value is for the school," Rathgeber said.

Other gifts to that college have included diagnostic equipment, microscopes, and disposable equipment such as glassware and gloves that can be used in the laboratories.

Unfortunately not all gifts can be accepted.

"We are offered animals all the time, but we have to be careful about what we do with them," Rathgeber said. "We don't need any more animals to care for unless they are needed for a program. However, I never turn down a chance to talk about a gift in kind."

The UI's libraries are often recipients of gifts in kind. Book collections, rare books and collections of papers are given to the library. Some items, if the donor agrees, might be sold.

Bill Maher, interim University Archivist at the UI Library, handles many collections of papers and related materials.

One prime example is a gift from Stewart Howe, a collector of fraternity and sorority booklets, some of them very rare, and student-life materials. One extraordinary gift was the endowment by the Stewart Howe Foundation to run and maintain the Stewart S. Howe collection, and allowing the library to hire a staff person.

"This is a major collection and it has become a magnet for lots of individuals' collections. There is no other collection like it in the country," Maher said. "Because of the generosity of the Stewart Howe Foundation, we have an endowment to run the [student life and culture] department."

However, Howe isn't the only person who has given unique and valuable collections to the library. Andrew Barr, a prestigious UI alumnus, collected materials about World War II.

"He participated in the Third Armored Division, as a G2 officer for intelligence, and collected histories of military divisions, then donated those to the archives, along with the Third Armored Division archives. The division formed an alumni association and is giving us personal diaries, photos and recollections," Maher said. "Barr and other members [of the division] also have donated funds to support this, the Third Armored Division Association Archives."

These are only two examples of the hundreds of notable collections of papers the UI libraries have received.

The library also has policies in place that limit what collections they can and will accept.

The UI must beware of white elephants -- something that can't be sold or given away, can't be used in the university's mission or doesn't provide a service for the UI. Catherine A. Murphy, manager of accounting at the UI Foundation, explained the history of the term and how a white elephant, according to an ancient tale, was a gift given to an enemy. The white elephant, because of its sensitive skin, could not work, so the owner could do nothing but pay for its upkeep, and go broke in the process.

All gifts accepted by all university units and departments must first be approved by the chancellor, Murphy said.

And the right kind of gift can be a boon for both the UI and for the giver. While the tax implications vary, giving items of value to the university can provide a tax benefit. Gifts that might be retained by the university, such as collections or equipment, given with an endowment to help with upkeep, are ideal donations.

The department of agricultural engineering recently received gifts that fit the UIs mission, without costing the department additional money for upkeep or maintenance.

Caterpillar Inc. gave the department the use of a Caterpillar Challenger 45 tractor and Case International gave a model 7220 tractor for use by the department

"The Caterpillar Challenger is a 200 horsepower tractor to be used on our experimental farms as we see fit," said John Siemens, professor of agriculture engineering. "It will be used on the ag engineering farms and other farms that belong to other departments. We'll also be able to use it for experimental purposes because it runs on rubber tracks, rather than rubber tires, which will allow us to study the effects of the rubber tracks on soil compaction, a common concern of farmers in Illinois."

The tractor is worth more than $100,000 and the bonus is it is given to the UI on a rent/lease program through a local dealer. The lease is then paid by the Caterpillar Foundation. Through this arrangement, the department is freed of the cost of upkeep and maintenance of the tractor. A similar arrangement has been set up by Case International, said Carroll Goering, professor of agricultural engineering.

"Case wants us to have a modern tractor," Goering said. "If they gave it to us, in five or six years it would be dated. With a lease, a year or two from now, they can take it out and give us a new tractor."

The Case International tractor will be used on the research farm, and in special projects.

Caterpillar and Case benefit through this arrangement as the UI demonstrates the tractors at Agronomy Day and as they are seen at work in the experimental fields.

There are no set rules on what might be a gift in kind, except that it can't be a white elephant. In 1996, the UI received items such as a car, 150 bushels of soybeans, a hot air balloon ride, three hours of golf lessons, paintings and display collectibles, monographs and serigraphs, and a car with handicap controls. Companies and vendors have joined in the gift-in-kind trend, providing more than a half-million dollars' worth of free advertising and carpet installation.

"We appreciate the generousity of all donors to the UI and we have an obligation to be good stewards of the gifts we receive," Justice said.


Comments to: Inside Illinois Editor Doris Dahl, (217) 333-2895,

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