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Who We Are

As an independent, nonprofit organization and the official fundraising foundation for the University of Kansas, KU Endowment partners with donors in providing philanthropic support to build a greater KU.

Established in 1891, KU Endowment is America’s first foundation for a public university and has been called “the fundamental prototype for more than 1,000 college and university foundations throughout the United States.”* We embrace our responsibility to inspire philanthropy for KU, and we are committed to following the highest standards of service and ethical conduct when it comes to managing donors’ gifts for the benefit of the university.

The support of donors helps make KU a world-class institution. State financing covers about 16% of KU’s total operating expenses. Therefore, private gifts play a major role in virtually all activities of the university.

You also can see an overview of our organization and what we do in our Building a Greater University brochure (pdf).

Operating Expenses

Many university foundations cover operating costs by charging fees on gifts, but we allocate 100% of the principal of every gift for the purpose designated by the donor. We cover operating expenses through a small number of unrestricted funds, as well as a portion of the return on our investments.

An institutionally related foundation

KU Endowment is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, separate from the university and the State of Kansas. No state funds are used to cover our operations. As an institutionally related foundation, we can ensure that gifts are used in strict accordance with donors’ wishes. It also enables us to protect the privacy of donors who may not want their gifts to become a matter of public record. The Council for Advancement and Support of Education explains in more detail the many benefits of foundations such as KU Endowment.

While we work closely with the KU Alumni Association, we are two distinct organizations.

Endowed Funds

Each year, KU Endowment transfers income from endowed funds, along with gifts from donors, to the university’s four campuses. The overall endowment is made up of approximately 4,000 individual funds. The overwhelming majority of these funds were restricted by donors; they can be used only for the purpose designated by the donor. The goal for endowed funds and other long-term investments is to provide a consistent level of support for the university in perpetuity.


About 240 people carry out KU Endowment’s daily work. They include more than 170 staff members and numerous volunteer leaders who serve on the Advancement Board, which supports KU Medical Center and The University of Kansas Health System, and the KU Endowment Board of Trustees, which governs KU Endowment.

Anti-discrimination and harassment policy

Read KU Endowment’s policy against discrimination and harassment.

*Joseph Phelan, College & University Foundations: Serving America’s Public Higher Education, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, 1997, p. 3.

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