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Revised January 2024
Thank you for expressing interest in establishing a new Award or Prize. The American Physical Society (APS) is largely dependent upon and grateful for donations received from individuals (members and non-members), foundations, laboratories, corporations, and other institutions that fund APS-level honors and unit-level awards. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of physicists in different stages of their careers. It’s a great privilege to have many of these named after physicists who have made a difference in their field.
Before a fundraising campaign is launched, APS Honors staff can assist with evaluating whether a unit’s proposal meets the current criteria for establishing a new honor. Each APS unit can have one (1) prize, one (1) award and one (1) early career award. Units that exceeded the limit were grandfathered in as exceptions, and the Committee can entertain requests for exceptions to the rule with proper justification.
Get buy-in and approval from the Unit Executive Committee
Decide if you are starting a new Prize or Award
A Prize or Award ensures the ongoing financial health of an honor, in perpetuity, by generating interest to pay for honor expenses. Currently, APS has established this formula to ensure that an endowed fund has sufficient corpus to support the honor in perpetuity:
30 x Stipend = Endowment Fund
Example: A stipend of $10,000 would require an endowment of $300,000. Presuming an average annual earning rate of at least 5%, the endowment would yield sufficient funds to support the award, travel, certificate and any other direct costs associated with the honor expenses.
|Types of APS-level Honors
|Minimum Annual Stipend Per Recipient
|Minimum Endowment Requirement
Based on these guidelines, and in line with current APS practices, unit-level awards with stipends of less than $1,500 per recipient will be funded from unit operating revenue generated by APS meetings, dues allocations and/or accumulated unit earnings. Unit level awards are not endowed but may be supplemented by annual philanthropic support. The APS Development staff will provide fundraising counsel to all units. However, given the increasing cost of administration, record-keeping and compliance, the APS Development Department will provide minimal support for unit level awards and reserve the bulk of their time and connections (with foundations and corporations) for Society-level awards.
For more information about the establishment of an honor and the approval process, please email email@example.com.
Once approved by the Council; the APS Development Team can guide volunteers through the steps below.
Non-Endowed Honors - The sum of the stipend, certificate, and/or travel expenses is paid in full annually or biennially by donors (in some instances, the sponsoring unit may contribute a portion of the expenses); external donors are generally billI aed by the Development Office and unit funds are transferred internally by APS Finance.
Note: There is no “corpus” that creates annual income to fund these.
Endowed Honors - Restricted donations are secured to establish an endowment that will fund an honor (including the stipend, certificate, travel expenses, as well as other direct honors costs) in perpetuity with investment income (see Endowments); the process entails Development staff coordinating with volunteers to:
The annual or biennial honor will be funded through endowment earnings on the endowed corpus.
Considering the timetable required for implementation, a new honor may be awarded within 12-18 months from the time the sum of outright gifts and pledges equals the full amount required for endowment. Before fundraising can begin, APS Council must have approved the new honor’s proposal.
Donors will be advised in the unusual circumstance of a funding initiative falling short. If the fundraising goal is not reached within three years or pledge payments are not received within five years from the campaign launch (the date on which either the first outright gift or pledge is received by the Development Department), the respective unit, in consultation with the donor(s) and the APS Committee on Prizes & Awards, shall have the discretion to direct the use of the funds, either to fund an already existing prize or award and/or a related activity — until the funds are fully utilized.
All donors — individuals (members and non-members) and sponsoring foundations, laboratories, and corporations — will be listed on the campaign webpage and in the APS Annual Report. Those contributing ≥$50,000 will be recognized as follows:
If either the endowment level for an existing honor falls below the accepted minimum or its sponsorship is not renewed, the home unit(s) or committee(s) will be asked to work with the APS Development Staff to raise additional funds, or to identify new sponsor(s). If efforts are not successful, the related funds will be redirected or spent down in accordance with the donor(s)’ wishes. Moreover, as the field of physics continues to evolve and some APS awards are no longer serving their purpose, APS, in consultation with internal stakeholders and with consent from the donor(s), may consider retiring or repurposing existing honors.
Reasons that a unit may need to establish an endowment campaign:
After obtaining the proper approval, the Unit Executive Committee will appoint a Fundraising Chair and recruit 4-6 Fundraising Committee members. The Fundraising Chair might be a member of the Executive Committee or a well-known and respected individual in the physics community who lends their name to the campaign to inspire donors.
Development staff will assist these volunteers by working together to develop and implement a campaign strategy, including: setting the goal and a timeline, identifying prospects, and drafting and distributing solicitations, acknowledgements, and/or stewardship reports.
Pre-campaign and Prospect Identification
Identify lead prospects - Decide which prospects will be asked to make the largest gifts, and assign them to members of the Fundraising Committee. Members should know and be well-connected to their prospect/s.
Generally, the majority of the revenue (typically 80% of the goal) will be from approximately 20% of the donors, and the majority of gifts will equal the least amount of revenue.
The Quiet Phase
Essentially, the Campaign begins during this phase. The objective is to raise 60%-80% of the goal at this time, and to give the Campaign the momentum it needs before a public launch. The Fundraising Committee solicits the top 3-10 lead gifts. This phase often takes 6-9 months.
The Middle Launch and Public Phase
From FundRaiserBasic.com: “The middle phase is the MOST difficult part of the campaign. First of all, your biggest donors generally don't want to give right now. They either want to be first, or help put you over the top at the end of the campaign. You can imagine saying, "We'd like you to set the pace" and, "Your gift would mean a successful end to the campaign," or, "Your gift will put us over the top," but it is the rare person who is excited by, "Your gift will bring up the middle." Hence, more of a reason why we recommend that the Committee achieve 60% - 80% of the goal before going public.”
This is the time to celebrate: the goal has been achieved or surpassed! Please start by taking a moment and congratulating yourself and your committee; this was no easy feat. The Development staff can provide a draft message to share with the unit(s) benefitting from this award. We also recommend highlighting this accomplishment in the unit’s newsletter, with details about a call for nominations and the first awarding.
The APS Development Office has created this overview to provide APS members with an understanding of the Society’s fundraising process. If you have any questions, please contact:
Campaign and Donor Relations Manager