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Check processing turn around

  • 1.  Check processing turn around

    Posted 18 days ago

    Happy Friday everyone!


    We are having a debate on policy and I would like people's reaction. I sit on a committee that is working through creating and updating gift processing policies. The biggest debate right now is around best practices for gift processing regarding timing.


    I believe I have heard/read that the best practice for the time to process a check and get the receipt out the door, or in the email, is 48 hours. I was told that was an unrealistic expectation.


    Can people give me an idea of what their policies regarding this practice is so I can take it back to the group.


    Am I being unrealistic?


    Thanks for your thoughts,




    Kathleen E. Stuber
    Assistant Vice President for Advancement Services
    Division of University Advancement

    University at Buffalo

    1010 Kimball Towers

    Buffalo, NY 14214







  • 2.  RE: Check processing turn around

    Posted 18 days ago
    I think you have to take the pandemic out of the equation.  Average turnarounds since March have slipped for many.  However, a majority of my clients are meeting the 48-hour rule still.  We can thank an increase in online giving and automated interfaces for that.

    However, pre-pandemic, 48-hours was quite customary for the majority of donations (there are always exceptions) for a great many institutions.  On the other hand, I have visited institutions that struggled to process gifts within one week.  But they were understaffed, had unnecessary business processes, and little or no automation.

    Looking back over the last 24 months, 70% of my clients managed 48-hours most of the time (the end of the year was challenging).  And many of those organizations were same-day or 24-hours for most of their transactions.  I recall when I was at Duke (yes, this was 18 years ago), we processed all gifts received in our office by 2 pm on a same-day basis.


    John H. Taylor
    John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC
    2604 Sevier St.
    Durham, NC   27705
    919.816.5903 (cell/text)

    Serving the Advancement Community Since 1987

  • 3.  RE: Check processing turn around

    Posted 18 days ago

    Thanks John, I agree the pandemic has to be taken out of the equation and I understand and actually would hope that we have an influx of gifts during the holidays where this would not happen, but generally speaking, I am not out of line suggesting this is the industry standard.


    Thanks, as always, for your insight.



  • 4.  RE: Check processing turn around

    Posted 18 days ago
    Hi Kathy,

    I agree with what John noted in his email butUT there are exceptions. Our office is very small and one person does the ALL database management and entry and manages the financial system as well. Our turnaround time of gifts is 48-72 hours. We do have automated emails set up as well but we like to also acknowledge larger donors with a ack letter and other thanks  from development staff or the President.

    Sometimes I don't get a gift entered for over a week if it is just one and under $1,000 or if I go on vacation. That is just my reality with the workload I manage. But I can't create the financials at any given moment if the gifts aren't in the system and posted. So gifts are mostly turned around within 48 hrs but there are exceptions and the 48 hrs is the goal not the requirement for us. So it really depends on the size of your office and the individual workloads associated with the staff who enter the gifts.

    Good luck!

    Gerri Silveira
    University Advancement
    EOU Foundation

    Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Eastern Oregon University has adjusted to remote access and has ultimately implemented a reduction to classified staff work hours. Your inquiry is very important to me and I will respond to you as quickly as possible. If you need immediate assistance, please contact University Advancement at 541-962-3740. Thank you for your understanding and patience as we move through these unprecedented times.

  • 5.  RE: Check processing turn around

    Posted 18 days ago

    Thanks so much Gerri,

    I think the 48 hours would be what we strive for and we would look to make improvements in processes to get there.



  • 6.  RE: Check processing turn around

    Posted 18 days ago

    Hey, Kathy. A few more details would be helpful if you want to share those: How many transactions (and how many are physical checks)? Lockbox in place? Caging? Automation of phoning pledges? Other automation? Online gift handling processes? How many FTEs can enter transactions? How many help the process before entry and after (i.e., maybe someone other than the gift entry pros is dedicated to opening the mail and creating batches or handles receipting, etc.)? As you know well, there are a lot of moving parts.


    I conducted a benchmarking study of 19 universities that found 2.8 days was the average turn around when all factors and types of gifts are considered. Getting rid of the "slowest" 1% put the average closer to a 2-day range. This also indicated that about 6,500 transactions per 40 hour "FTE" flowed through those shops in a given year. (So, in a simply example, a 2 person entry team, plus a manager, plus maybe an admin who spends 50% time with the mail and gets the letters in the mail might be a 21,000 or so transaction shop.)


    And, of course, culture and expectations matter in that accuracy and speed considerations interrelate. For instance, one of my clients is rightfully proud to have a 99.94% accuracy rate for entry, but this is at the cost of speedy handling. I'd welcome a further discussion.





  • 7.  RE: Check processing turn around

    Posted 18 days ago

    Chris thanks for your response – we have 2.5 gift processors and a manager. We have a separate person who is responsible for the electronic load from our call center into pledges and any gifts secured are loaded into a gift batch. We do not have caging.


    We have a good amount of automation: call center pledges and gifts are directly loaded into pledge and gift batches for, some on-line giving is also loaded, but not all. We are working on that part of it.