Frequently Asked Questions

General Giving Questions

SMU is fortunate to have a substantial endowment, just over $1 billion. However, only about 16% of SMU’s annual budget is obtained from the endowment each year. Also, in order to generate endowment income equal to the amount raised by annual funds last year, the endowment would have needed to grow an additional $42 million.

Annual giving dollars go immediately back to the students by providing scholarships, securing the finest faculty, improving technology, among other great needs. Regardless of size, your support is important and does make a difference to the students of SMU.

Every tax-deductible gift makes a difference to SMU. Your gift sends a powerful message that you support this institution and its educational mission, and it has made a difference in your life. Gifts of all sizes make an impact. Some foundations and other grant-making organizations look at the number of gifts rather than total amounts when determining grant requests. Your gift, viewed as a vote of confidence, could help SMU secure thousands of dollars in funding.

Tuition, fees, and endowment income don’t cover the total cost of what it takes to provide an SMU education each year. In fact, tuition covers only about 71% of the entire cost of an SMU degree. Many people don’t realize that alumni have always supported the SMU Fund to help defray the cost of rising tuition.

Alumni, parents, and friends contribute to the SMU Fund each year and help meet the University’s ongoing need for flexible, unrestricted income to support our academic missions.Last year alone, thousands of donors provided significant support to the SMU Fund that helped the University:

  • Attract and maintain world-class faculty in each department
  • Continue its commitment to need-based financial aid
  • Keep our library up-to-date with the information our students need to support their educational experience
  • Purchase research materials and technologies used by our faculty and students
  • Provide support for every facet of the student experience

Simply put, as an SMU Fund participant, you help SMU continue to grow as an incomparable place of higher learning.

SMU depends on continuing annual support from alumni, parents and friends. To remain competitive among its peer institutions SMU seeks to maintain a rate of 23-24% giving by its alumni every year. Please make your annual gift by May 31, the end of SMU’s fiscal year.

You can expect to hear from SMU regularly as we continue general fundraising initiatives and begin new projects that enhance the various areas of this great university.

June 1 – May 31: SMU’s fundraising cycle – All alumni are scheduled to receive various mail and email solicitations during a fundraising cycle. Current SMU students also make phone calls through the SMU TelePony program.

General communications alumni can expect to receive from SMU:

SMU Magazine: Comprehensive SMU coverage – Stay connected with SMU through human interest stories about other alumni, faculty and students. Read class notes to keep in touch with your peers and see the accomplishments of others. Let others know what you’ve been up to as well. Receive one issue each fall and one each spring.

SMU Update: Electronic newsletter – Keep up with current news from the Hilltop, test your knowledge of SMU’s history and post photos of you and your family through this interactive e-newsletter. You will receive one every month.

Event Invitations: SMU in your backyard – SMU Chapters welcome alumni, parents and friends in cities all over the country. Events are held periodically to unite area alumni through their common SMU connection. Invitations for these events are sent through the mail and via email using the contact information you provide us.

Absolutely. In your reunion year, your gift IS your Reunion Class Gift. In addition to your annual commitment to SMU, we hope that you will make that meaningful “stretch” gift during your reunion year to show how much your SMU experience meant to you. Many alumni choose to make this commitment by setting up a recurring gift that will extend until their next reunion in five years.

There are several ways for you to make your gift to SMU:

Make a credit card gift online now. Our online gift form is the easiest and quickest way to make your contribution! We currently accept VISA, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.

You can make a gift by simply writing a check payable to “SMU” and sending it to:
SMU Gift Administration
PO Box 223927
Dallas, TX 75222-9972

You may also call SMU’s Office of Annual Giving at 1-800-768-9996.

Thanks for designating your company’s matching gifts to SMU. If you or your spouse work for a matching gift company, and you direct it to SMU along with your gift, you will be given credit for the total amount. In order to complete the transaction, you must request the paperwork from your company’s human resources department and send the form to SMU with your gift. We then complete our portion and return it to your company.

If you don’t know if your company matches charitable donations, search our matching gifts database to find out.

SMU’s tax ID number is 175-0800689-1.

SMU Endowment

Learn about establishing an endowment, and be a part of defining the second century of unbridled achievement at SMU. To make your impact on SMU, you can call 214-768-1911 or e-mail We can answer your questions and provide the next steps.

Yes. Gifts to the endowment fund’s principal or operating accounts can be made at any time. The Office of Gift Planning can help direct a gift to the appropriate fund.

Yes. Gifts to an endowment fund’s principal or operating accounts can be made by anyone. There are named endowments and more general endowments that support specific schools or priorities. The Office of Planned and Endowment Giving can help direct a gift to the appropriate fund.

You may be able to take on more investment risk and thus receive a better return. SMU, on the other hand, has a fiscal responsibility to its students, parents, faculty, and staff to weigh risk carefully, while at the same time investing prudently.

By adding your gift to the SMU Endowment you increase its opportunity for more rapid growth. The data clearly demonstrate that universities with larger endowments experience faster and greater growth. SMU’s endowment took 80 years to reach $500 million. Reaching that milestone enabled the endowment to double in size to over $1 billion in only 10 years. Your gift not only invests for the future, but it works for SMU today.

The University’s Chief Investment Officer and an Investment Committee appointed by the Board of Trustees.

Endowment earnings are spent according to the purpose and restrictions agreed upon by the donor and University when the endowment was established.

There are several options. First, remember that gifts of any size to the SMU endowment are welcome and appreciated. Also, you might consider a planned gift, such as a bequest in your will, an insurance policy, or a retirement fund designation. Some donors choose a retained life estate, for a future gift of their home or farm. Other gifts, through an annuity or trust, can provide both life income and support for SMU. Some of these have significant tax benefits to the donor. You can contact the Office of Gift Planning to get more information.

Telepony Student Callers

Our students enjoy sharing their SMU calls to request alumni and parent support for the annual needs of the University, it’s schools, and departments. Some of the most critical needs are scholarships, faculty support, and campus operating costs.
Our students enjoy sharing their SMU experience with you and hearing about your time on campus. Current SMU students make all calls from the Dallas campus. We call undergraduate and graduate alumni of the University and parents. Other campus organizations, such as the Mustang Club, conduct separate calling campaigns.

We call on weeknight evenings and weekends. We do not call after 9:00 pm for any time zone. If you would like to schedule a call from a student at a specific time, please email with your request.

Although our students enjoy speaking to you and greatly appreciate your support, we realize you may not want to receive these types of calls.

To request to be removed from our calling list, you can email or call 1-800-768-9996.

Thank you, we appreciate your support of SMU! You can make a credit card gift to SMU using our online giving form or call 1-800-768-9996 to make a gift over the phone. You can also email to request a phone call with a student at a specific time of day.

You can call 1-800-768-9996 or email to communicate your experience directly to the SMU Annual Giving Office. We greatly appreciate your feedback, it helps us to enhance our program, that ultimately benefits SMU!

Yes, it is safe and secure. The student will enter your credit card information into our system, it will be processed by SMU the next day. If you are concerned about giving your credit card information over the phone, you can make your credit card payment through our secure online giving form or you can make your contribution by check.

If you are concerned about a call you receive, please ask to speak to the call center manager directly. You can also email to verify SMU is calling you. We will respond to your email within 48 hours.

Faculty and Staff Questions

For two reasons. First, faculty, staff and alumni giving rates heavily influence corporate and foundation gifts to SMU. They look for a high level of support from our closest constituents. Second, by supporting the campaign’s three funding areas, your gift can help make SMU the best it can be.

It’s up to you.There are a variety of areas to support, and your donation can support a school dean’s fund, SMU Fund, President’s PartnersMustang Club or building/capital project. If you want to support President’s Partners, your money will be used by departments applying for those funds.

Faculty and staff participation is measured by the number of current full-time faculty and staff donors divided by the total number of current full-time and permanent part-time SMU faculty and staff. Participation is measured by a cash gift, whether that gift is made via payroll deduction, a planned gift, an outright gift of a check, credit card or a pledge payment on a new or existing pledge.
We encourage all of SMU’s faculty and staff, past and present, to give to the annual campaign.
All gifts, no matter the size or the area (designation) chosen, support the annual Faculty & Staff Campaign.
There is a $5 minimum for all gifts including cash, check, credit card and payroll deduction gifts (by pay period). All gifts of $5 or more will be counted in the campaign.
If you department has a fund-raising designation, you may give to it.

Yes! President’s Partners continues to be a strategic funding priority for the University. All gifts to President’s Partners will be counted in the campaign.

Your name will be included on donor lists unless you choose to opt out of our donor lists. If you are a President’s Associates member, your name and gift amount will be published on that list according to giving level and the number of years you’ve given; however, you may also choose to opt out of that list.

If you have additional questions, please email

Tribute Giving

You may choose any existing fund designation for a gift in memory or in honor of someone. Tributes for purchasing trees and benches are designated for Campus Beautification which supports the maintenance and upkeep of those campus features.

Yes. For more information on creating a new fund or endowment, please contact Tim Aronson with the Office of Gift Planning, at

It is important to contact Donor Relations or email prior to asking for memorial gifts from friends and family so we can ensure funds are directed into the correct account.

When requesting memorial gifts in an obituary, SMU recommends using the following language:

The family requests that memorial gifts be made in support of the [specified fund] at SMU. Checks made payable to “SMU” can be mailed to:

SMU Office of Development
c/o Gift Processing
PO Box 750402
Dallas TX 75275-0402

Or you may make a gift online at Please indicate that the gift is in memory of [name] by writing a memo on your check or marking the “in memory of” box when making a gift online.

Yes, please contact the Office of Donor Relations at

The only pavers currently available are through SMU Libraries. Library furniture is still available as follows:

  1. A chair in the Centennial Reading Room ($500)
  2. A small table in the Centennial Reading Room ($2,500)
  3. A large table in the Centennial Reading Room ($5,000)

Contact the Office of Donor Relations at for more information.

Tree Tributes

The donor may select an area of campus, and the Office of Donor Relations will provide you with 1-2 choices of specifically located trees within that area.
A 7”x5” bronze plaque, mounted to a limestone block, will be installed under the tree. The donor will work with the Office of Donor Relations on an approved message.
Upon final installation of the plaque, a photo and mapped location will be sent to the donor by the Office of Donor Relations.
A new tree will be planted in its place or the plaque may be moved to a living tree in the very near vicinity with donor approval.
If deemed necessary, SMU will replace the tree with the best choice at the time per the landscaping master plan for the University.

Bench Tributes

The Office of Donor Relations will help the donor select an existing, available bench on campus.
The Office of Donor Relations will work with the donor to approve a personalized wording and layout, which is then etched into stone benches.
Upon completion of the etching, a photo and mapped location will be sent to the donor.
Benches are maintained with periodic power washes pursuant to the University’s plan for general maintenance and upkeep. If necessary, broken benches are replaced with duplicates.
No. The Office of Facilities, Planning and Management determines when benches are replaced and will advise the Office of Donor Relations, which will coordinate a new etching with identical words and layout.