Many of our alumni and friends have not only provided annual funds year by year, but have also helped to build a permanent financial foundation for the University of Illinois by contributing to the University’s endowment.

Of all forms of private giving, endowments offer perhaps the most influential of investments in higher education by creating self-renewing, living legacies that span generations. An endowment is an investment in the lives of those to come, a promise without end, made by today’s donors to the future.

In an endowment fund, the principal is invested in perpetuity and only a portion of the investment’s earnings is spent. The rest of the earnings are channeled back into the fund, so that the endowment grows over time.

In this way, the endowment becomes a long-term source of funding for whatever a donor wishes to achieve with his or her philanthropy. Endowments may be either restricted or unrestricted, depending on whether there are purpose restrictions on the use of the income from the endowment.

The total U of I endowment is typically made up of many smaller endowment funds and the University of Illinois Foundation holds such gifts permanently as principal. The Foundation then manages these endowments to produce earnings that support designated U of I programs, faculty, and students across the University and its three campuses at Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, and Springfield.

A strong endowment increases the University’s ability to more readily predict one of its revenue streams, acting as a potential buffer for political or economic fluctuations. Because an endowed fund continues in perpetuity, an endowed gift has both an immediate and a continuing impact on the University today and in the future.


Creating an endowed fund gives you an opportunity to put your name, or the name of another person or organization in memory or tribute, on a fund for a specific cause.

Endowments help fund:

  • Faculty chairs and professorships
  • Graduate fellowships
  • Undergraduate scholarships
  • Program support
  • Visiting scholars/lectureships
  • Research support
  • Student internships
  • and more

An endowment can be created through an outright gift, through a bequest in a will, or through a life income gift such as a charitable gift annuity or a charitable remainder trust.

To minimize administrative costs, the minimum amount required to establish a separate, permanent endowment account is $25,000. Lesser amounts are sometimes accepted with the understanding that they will grow to $25,000 within a reasonable period, usually within 3–5 years.

The following steps are used to establish an endowment:

  • Contact Gift Administration at GiftAdministration@uif.uillinois.edu or 217-333-0675
  • Identify the kind of endowment you would like to establish (e.g. scholarships, annual giving, faculty or research support, etc.)
  • Identify your short- and long-term charitable priorities
  • Review the various levels of endowment available and the minimum amounts needed to set them up
  • Decide on a planned or an outright gift (e.g. cash, real estate, stock, bonds):
    • Outright gifts may be donated or pledged to establish your endowment fund and to help it grow over time
    • Planned gifts (e.g. bequests in your will, a trust, life insurance, retirement plan assets) and/or deferred gifts from life income arrangements (e.g. gift annuities and charitable remainder trusts) may also be used to create your endowment or add to it at a later time. See our Planned Giving section for more.
  • Allow the University of Illinois Foundation to prepare a draft agreement outlining the purpose for the fund
  • Review and sign the agreement along with a designated Foundation official and the appropriate university administrators.


To endow an annual gift, include a bequest in your will stating that the money should be added to our endowment. When your gift is invested as part of the endowment, it generates a total return (income plus growth) along with the rest of the endowment. A portion of that return will be paid out each year in your name.

There are several different levels of endowment through which you can link your honoree’s name with the University’s most notable achievements. For a complete listing see Endowment Levels.


For updated figures about the current University Endowment's performance and related reports, please refer to the Endowment page of the Financials section.

Questions? Email Gift Administration or call the department at 217-333-0675.