Duke Chapel standing over campus building

Category: Policies

Gift Announcement Policies

Development & News

Sharing news about the financial support Duke University receives from alumni and supporters is important. It helps acknowledge the generosity of Duke’s donors and promotes the people, programs, facilities and activities that donors support. University Communications’ policy supports the university’s fundraising efforts to the fullest extent possible, consistent with journalistic practices and sound news judgment.


To support the university’s fundraising objectives, University Communications, the Duke Health News Office and Duke University Development Marketing and Communications oversee the writing, editing, distribution and promotion of news releases about gifts and grants. They do this in close coordination with schools, programs and units, and in accordance with the following guidelines, which have been approved by the university’s senior leadership. These guidelines apply to content that appears in publications, social media, websites, e-mail communications and other communications that come from all Duke offices.

  1. Before a gift may be announced in any Duke communication, it must be recognized officially as a gift or pledge and entered appropriately in the university’s gift records system, DADD.
  2. Public announcement of a gift or grant must be approved in principle by the following individuals:
    • The vice president for alumni affairs and development (or his/her designee, Duke Development’s assistant vice president for marketing and communications)
    • The vice president for Duke Health development and alumni affairs (or his/her designee, Duke Health Development’s director of communications)
    • The vice president for public affairs and government relations (or his/her designee, the associate vice president for university communications)
    • The donor(s).

No announcement will be made without the consent of the aforementioned.

  1. University Communications, Duke Development Marketing and Communications or the Duke Health News Office will consider distributing a news release announcing any gift or grant that might be viewed by media outlets as newsworthy. Gifts are most likely to attract media interest if they are large in size (generally at least $1 million) and are associated with new or innovative programs or facilities or have a strong human interest angle and a compelling story. (See chart below for more specific instructions.)
  2. A news release or media announcement promoting a gift or grant must include the amount of money involved. A large gift may be newsworthy even if the donor prefers to remain anonymous, but no gift of unspecified amount is newsworthy.
  3. In general, if Duke has previously announced a $5 million+ gift from a donor to any area of the university, that gift should be mentioned again in a release about a new gift. If Duke has previously announced a gift in the $1-$5 million range, it may be appropriate to mention the earlier gift in a release about a new gift; appropriate development staff should be consulted.
  4. It is Duke policy not to disclose any information about specific gifts or donors, or their prior and/or cumulative giving to Duke, without the donor’s permission. Further, the university does not disclose terms, conditions or payment schedules for any gift or donor.
  5. Duke will respect the wishes of a donor who asks to remain anonymous or who prefers not to be quoted, but who has no objections to the release of other information about the gift.


The responsibility for preparing and managing gift announcements varies according to the level of gift:

Gift LevelAnnouncement Prepared ByReview Process Coordinated ByAnnouncement Attributed To
Less than $1 Million school or unit communicator school or unit communicator program directors or school dean  
$1 Million – $4.9 Million school or unit communicator Development M&C dean or administration-level official  
$5 Million and above Development M&C, UComms and/or Duke Health Development M&C, UComms and/or Duke Health university president
Gifts of any level spanning more than one school or unit Development M&C Development M&C variable

In all cases, the person preparing a gift announcement should coordinate with Development Marketing & Communications to:

  1. Confirm gift has been properly documented and there aren’t any unusual circumstances related to the gift announcement.
  2. Obtain internal approvals.
  3. Send draft to University Communications for review and editing.
  4. Only after steps 1-3 are completed, send draft to donor for approval and possible quotes. Any significant revisions at this point require review by University Communications.
  5. Identify photos or relevant images for use with the announcement.
  6. Develop distribution lists.
  7. Determine announcement timing.

No release or gift announcement will appear in official Duke channels (Duke Today, Duke Magazine, etc.), online or in social media until the steps outlined above have been confirmed.

The university president has final authority and responsibility for determining the official dissemination of all news from Duke University. The president has delegated that authority to the vice president for public affairs and government relations, who has in turn delegated to the head of University Communications day-to-day responsibility for ensuring the accuracy, timeliness, completeness and professionalism of communications with the news media.

Contact Duke Development Marketing and Communications for additional information or clarification about gift announcement practices.

Duke’s Media Policies

These policies are in place to support Duke’s primary mission of research, education, and healthcare. Our goal is for students, faculty and other members of the Duke community to carry out their activities with a reasonable expectation of privacy and normality while remaining free to speak openly with the media if they choose to do so.

Access to Campus

Members of the media must obtain permission in advance to film, report or broadcast live from Duke property. This includes seeking permission in advance from the appropriate office to enter classrooms, medical facilities, offices, laboratories or similar facilities for the purpose of reportage.

  • For university property, contact University Communications.
  • For any hospital or health system properties, contact the Duke Health News Office.
  • For Duke Gardens, contact the Gardens’ communications office.
  • For Duke Athletics, contact Duke Athletics External Relations.

Duke may limit the locations for television broadcasting/live streaming.

  • Live broadcasts in front of Duke Chapel are prohibited except by permission.
  • Media must park in designated areas.
  • Residence halls are closed to news media.
  • Media must obtain permission from University Communications in advance to take exterior still photographs of Duke’s campus for news purposes. University Communications maintains a library of still images and b-roll of campus for media use.
  • Duke reserves the right to deny or limit access to campus, and/or require pool cameras or reporting.

The Duke Health News Office is charged with ensuring that reporting regarding Duke Health is in compliance with HIPAA and other regulations involving patient confidentiality.

Event Coverage

Events that are open to the public are typically open to the news media; however, some campus events may be closed to the media due to space limitations, safety concerns or the preferences of a speaker or event sponsor(s).

  • Media who wish to attend an event organized by an academic unit or university department should contact the event organizer in advance (the event organizer will be listed on a news release and/or the calendar event listing)
  • Media who wish to attend an event organized by students must contact University Communications in advance.
  • Media must comply with any restrictions related to recording; television cameras, still cameras and audio recording equipment may be prohibited from an event or only given limited access if so requested by the speaker or sponsor.
  • Media may be asked to sit/stand in a section reserved for media.
  • K-ville is not open to media except during media events organized by University Communications and Duke Athletics.
  • Media may use event material posted on any public Duke website, so long as it is properly credited.

Exclusives and Fairness

Duke reserves the right to provide exclusive story coverage and release information to specific outlets based on the story, audience and judgment of the communications staff and leadership.  This also applies to op-eds, commentary articles and other features pitched to the news organizations for whose audiences the content will be the most relevant.

Paid Promotion

University representatives will not engage in media relations activities in which external media are provided financial compensation for attending university programs, interviewing university representatives or otherwise covering the university.

  • There are occasions when it is reasonable for the university to provide travel, lodging or meals for reporters visiting the university or attending university events. In those cases, approval should be sought in advance from University Communications.
  • Since many international media organizations are affiliated with foreign governments, any gifts, reimbursements, travel, lodging or meals that are provided to them must be clearned in advance by University Communications to ensure that the university complies with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
  • There should be clear distinctions made between paid advertising and media relations activities intended to generate editorially independent coverage of the university.
  • Paid advertising in support of institutional activities and goals is permissible and is generally managed and budgeted at the unit level. 

Trademark & Licensing

Duke University has a long-standing policy of protecting the symbols that are associated with its name and reputation as one of the finest universities in the country. Duke owns and controls its name(s) and other marks, logos, images, insignias, seal, designs and symbols (hereafter, “trademarks”) that have become associated with the institution.

Duke University requires that all individuals, organizations, departments, and companies, both internal and external obtain prior approval from Duke’s Office of Trademark Licensing before using the trademarks of Duke University for any purpose including, but not limited to, use of the trademarks for products, services, advertising, etc. The Office of Trademark Licensing governs the guidelines and procedures related to the use of Duke’s trademarks to protects their integrity and ensure appropriate use and is overseen by the Director of Trademark Licensing.

Unauthorized use of Duke trademarks is subject to civil and criminal penalties. Duke reserves the right to take appropriate action when confronted with unauthorized use of its trademarks. Such actions may include confiscation of the goods, financial penalties, and legal action.

Other Recognizable Graphics and Restrictions

Athletics Graphic Identity

The Iron Duke DDuke Athletics maintains a distinctive graphic mark, commonly referred to as “The Iron Duke D.” The single block D is used for athletics teams and donors. The Athletics identity system should only be associated with student/athletic entities and never used for academic or administrative content in any media.

The University Seal

The Duke University sealThe University Seal is a legal “signature” for the university and is only used on diplomas and other official documents. Any use of the seal must be approved by the Office of the University Secretary.

The University Emblem

The Duke University CrestThe University Emblem is only available for use by the Board of Trustees, the Office of the President and special university ceremonies. It may not be used by any other group or function without special approval from the Board of Trustees.

The University Shield

The Duke University ShieldThe University Shield was decommissioned in 2009. Though still in use across merchandise within University Stores, the shield is now a legacy icon and may not be used as part of the modern Duke brand.

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