Foundation Accounting Frequently Asked QuestionsPage address: https://www.mnsu.edu/advance/foundation/FAQ.html
+ What's the difference between an "M&E" (or "State") account, and a Foundation account?
“M&E” (or “State”) accounts, which start with 21xxxx, are set up by the University to pay for the basic needs of the institution, such as office supplies, research equipment, University Dining Services to cater a University event, etc. The funds for M&E accounts come from tuition and state appropriations.
There are three different types of Foundation accounts:
“Expendable” (or “discretionary”) Foundation accounts, which start with 335xxx, exist to pay for activities and items that directly benefit the institution, such as salaries, wages, stipends, benefits, travel, goods and services, etc. Expendable accounts cannot pay for staff parties, office coffee, or any other activity or item that doesn’t directly benefit the institution in accordance with its mission.
“Endowment” accounts, which start with 055xxx, are invested by the Foundation and the interest earnings are used as the donor wishes, often for annual scholarship awards.
“Quasi-endowment” accounts, which start with 0557xx, are also invested by the Foundation. Principal and interest earnings are used as the donor wishes, often for building projects. Quasi-endowments are more liquid than endowments.
The money for Foundation accounts comes from donor contributions and investment earnings.
+ My department received a memorial gift and the donor wants to set up a new scholarship account. What next?Start by contacting the Foundation Accountant at 389-5595, or the appropriate Development Director. A Development staff directory is here. Wherever you start, you’ll be guided through the process, including talking with the Foundation Accountant, Development Director and Gift Processing Manager.
+ My department has a Foundation expendable account. How do I find out how much is in there?Every account has a “project manager” assigned to manage the account. The project manager must be a University staff or faculty member (not a student). The Foundation Accountant sends reports to project managers once a month, after all activity for the previous month has been processed. If you need the current balance between reports, call the Foundation Accountant at 389-5595.
+ M&E accounts require contracts for purchased services. Do I need a contract to purchase services with a Foundation expendable account?Yes. If you are intending to use Foundation funds to engage a consultant or speaker or other type of service provider, you will need a contract. Sample contracts and staff contact information are on the Finance and Administration Contracts Office page, here.
+ Can I use my Foundation expendable account for anything at all?No. Foundation accounts exist to pay for activities and items that directly benefit the institution, such as salaries, wages, stipends, benefits, goods and services, etc. Expendable accounts cannot pay for staff parties, office coffee, or any other activity or item that doesn’t directly benefit the institution in accordance with its mission. Detailed guidelines can be found here.
+ No pizza parties?Not if the pizza is for a routine staff meeting, or an employee party (including holiday parties). For specific guidelines see Minnesota State Board Procedure 5.20.1, Special Expenses and Chancellor/Presidential Expense Allowances.
+ Flowers?For a donor, or a memorial for a donor, yes. For your administrative assistant for Administrative Professionals Day, no.
+ How about admission for my partner/spouse for the Foundation Gala, or any event I have to attend for my job at the University?No. Foundation expendable account funds may not be used for expenses of a purely personal nature; any personal benefit must be clearly incidental to the primary purpose of benefiting the University. Partner/spouse attendance at events staffed or attended by employees is the responsibility of the employee (even if your partner/spouse also happens to be a University employee). Detailed guidelines can be found here.
+ Can I spend the funds on gifts?Gifts such as plaques or other appropriate items for faculty and staff in recognition of outstanding achievement, retirement or distinguished service are reimbursable, but cannot exceed $75.00 per person. Gifts of cash, including gift certificates, or gifts for birthdays, weddings, non-retirement departures, etc. must be funded by the individuals giving the gifts.
+ My department wants to have a silent auction and put proceeds into our Foundation account. What next?Silent auctions require careful planning to ensure accurate reporting and receipting. As early as possible, talk through your plans with the Foundation Accountant at 389-5595.
+ I'm responsible for awarding our department's annual scholarships to students. How and when do I know how much is available?
Here’s the annual timeline for interest distribution:
On or before Jan. 5:
Foundation Accounting declares it “calendar year-end.”
After Jan. 5:
Foundation Accountant prepares payout rate and trailing 12-quarter average info for Foundation Investment Committee meeting.
Approximately Jan. 15:
Foundation Investment Committee recommends, and Foundation Board approves, a payout rate for the following fiscal year.
Three weeks post-Investment Committee meeting (approx. Feb. 3):
Foundation Accountant subtracts scholarship amounts for current semester. Foundation Accountant sends interest distribution/spending account/endowment balance to Directors of Development and others.
Between Feb. 3-15:
Directors of Development/Colleges inform departments of the amounts available, so they can start advertising scholarships.