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.