Establishing new trust funds

In 2010 University Council approved a number of broad changes to its strategy for managing donations. In particular, it agreed to place greater emphasis on soliciting unrestricted gifts and to minimise the creation of separate trusts, which are now only being considered for gifts of £100,000 or more. In order to facilitate this, it reconstituted the University of Oxford Development Trust Fund (‘OUDT’) to act as the primary vehicle for the receipt and allocation of gifts to the collegiate University. 

Within OUDT there are now a number of “broad purpose funds” – funds restricted for graduate scholarships, undergraduate scholarships, teaching, the Divisions, the Museums, the Bodleian, the Colleges etc. The idea is to encourage donors to give to one of these broad purpose funds and for any restrictions in how gifts are used to be in the form of non-binding “expressions of wishes”, which avoids the creation of new trusts.

The University does create new trust funds from time to time, usually in the following circumstances:

  • for endowment gifts, legacies, and fundraising appeals totalling at least £100,000;
  • by declaration of trust over the University’s own funds, usually as a means of securing external funding through matching funding schemes;
  • as a vehicle into which smaller, narrower-purpose trust funds can be consolidated in order to streamline administration.

For new trusts that are accommodated outside of OUDT, the charitable purposes (objects) and powers of the University as trustee are set out in the form of a Trust Regulation. In accordance with the Financial Regulations, Trust Regulations are prepared by Secretaries to Divisional Boards (or their equivalent in the case of budgetary units not in divisions) and taking advice where necessary from the Legal Services Office. They are approved on behalf of Council by the General Purposes Committee, having authority to approve trust regulations under Council Regulations 15 of 2002. All new regulations are published in the Gazette.