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Development Guide:
Data Services

Giving News

Data Services staff of the Gift and Data Services work closely with the Information Systems staff, and serves as one of the primary custodians of the data in the *VIP system. Its mission is to maintaining the integrity of all records in *VIP and to promote consistent methodology in maintaining all *VIP records. While *VIP is a centralized database and any user with the proper authorizations can make updates, there are certain tasks that are almost exclusively the responsibility of the Data Services office. Specific ongoing activities in constituent’s records include: tracking deaths and marital changes of individuals in *VIP. Data Services also functions as a reviewer for all changes made to the database.

  • Review of Special Prospect Records
    Records for individuals or corporations/foundations or associations, which are stewarded centrally by the Development Office, are identified in the *VIP system as Special Prospects. While any user can access and update these records, the changes should be well documented and do not take effect in the system until reviewed and approved by Data Services.
  • Returned Mail Process
    Data Services handles almost all of the returned mail for the Development Office including the large volume produced by the Annual Giving Center. Research is done on returned mail pieces that do not have a forwarding address. The Data Services team is also available to help CSUs with any large returned mail processing.
  • Obituaries/Deceasing Records in *VIP
    Each morning a Data Services staff member reviews the obituaries sections of the four major Texas daily newspapers (Austin American-Statesman, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, and San Antonio Express News) and a search is made of *VIP records for each individual listed, as well as their spouse, if mentioned.If a record is found for the individual, then it is marked as deceased. An automatic e-mail notification is created and sent to *VIP users who have opted to receive them. Users receive notifications for only those individuals for whom their CSU is a steward–e.g. a user in the College of Liberal Arts will receive notifications only for individuals who are donors, alumni, or faculty/staff members of Liberal Arts. Users, who want or need to receive e-mail notifications for all records deceased in *VIP, regardless of stewardship, must contact the programming staff.If the deceased individual is a major donor, a current student, or a faculty/staff member of UT Austin, a complete copy of the obituary is e-mailed to designated contacts in the offices of the Provost, Development, Public Affairs, Human Resources, and UT System. Copies of the obituaries are imaged.
  • Corporate Records
    Records for corporations and their foundations are identified in *VIP with the entity type CO and are further distinguished by a unique number known as a “Unit Key.” When multiple records exist for a corporation and its various locations or subsidiaries, each of the records within the corporate structure is assigned the same Unit Key. Only the Development Office can assign, change or delete Unit Keys. A Data Services team member receives each day a report of all CO type records that were added to the system the previous day. This list is reviewed each morning and a search is done in *VIP for each record listed, to ensure that there are no duplicates. If it is determined that a new record is not a duplicate, basic research is done on the company to determine if it is an independently operating company or a subsidiary of a larger corporation. Based on that research, the record is then either given a new, system-assigned Unit Key or the Unit Key of the corporation for which it is a subsidiary.
  • Foundation Records
    Records for non-profit foundations or foundations that are not corporate-owned are identified in *VIP by entity type FN. A further distinction is made between family and non-family foundations. This report is reviewed by the Corporate and Foundation Relations office to verify that the records have been appropriately coded as family/non-family foundations.
  • Association Records
    Records for philanthropic and benevolent societies and associations, schools and universities are identified in *VIP with entity type AS. These records are updated and maintained in much the same way as corporate and foundation records. As with corporate records, when there are records for multiple branches of an association, the records may be linked with a Unit Key.
  • Imaging Services
    Data Services also provides imaging services to the Development Office. Items currently imaged fall into two major categories: biographical information and gift information. Biographical information includes correspondence, articles, and obituaries. Gift information include: gifts, pledge agreements, matching gift information, etc.
  • Training in VIP
    Training classes are provided in order to access the VIP database. In the rare cases that anyone would need a “jumpstart” training prior to the next class date, Ricardo Vela will give an abridged version of the introduction and biographical updating classes.


Types of Records that Reside in VIP

There are eight different types of records that reside in VIP. Most of the types can be created while others are uploaded into VIP from other sources with the University. They are: individual records, corporation records, foundation records, association records, government offices, testamentary gift, trusts, and other records (UN entity).

Data Services will maintain or help maintain


Preference Codes

Do Not Contact Codes (*UT*)

Find, Combine, and Delete Duplicate Records

Outsourced Data Cleansing

Departmental ACS Changes

Uploads of New Records or New Data for Existing Records

Imaged Documents
Imaging Services is a section of Gift and Data services, which makes electronic copies of documents for desktop access. Imaged documents consist primarily of gifts, matching gifts, gift documentation, correspondence, obituaries, pledge agreements, and other documents related to Gift and Data Services.

Other Information


  • Capitalize “the” when using UT’s complete name: The University of Texas at Austin; otherwise, it is just the University.
  • Titles are capitalized only if they immediately precede the individual’s name.
  • Occupational titles preceding a name are not capitalized.

Example: The statement was made by attorney John Doe.

  • Lowercase the following nouns: university when it is used generically; seasons of the year; academic semesters.

Example: At UT and other universities enrollment for the spring semester takes place
during the fall.

  • Capitalize full names of buildings, laboratories, libraries, and museums but not subsequent references to them.

Example: Center for Real Estate Finance/the center

  • Lowercase government, federal, state, city, and legislature.

Example: Neither the federal government nor the legislature will act.

  • Capitalize plurals of generic terms after proper names.

Examples: Williamson and Travis Counties

University and Whitis Avenues

  • Lowercase general references to academic degrees: bachelor’s, doctorate, master’s.

Example: He earned a bachelor’s degree in English.


  • Abbreviations of academic degrees include periods but no spaces between capitalized letters: B.A., B.S., Ed.D., Ph.D., Pharm.D., M.P.H., M.F.A., J.D.
  • Do not use a comma to separate the month and year: September 2003 not September, 2003.
  • Personal names: Some abbreviations that follow proper names (i.e., Jr., Sr.) are preceded by a comma. Others (i.e., II and III) are not separated by a comma. When entering such suffixes, do not insert a comma. The comma will be automatically inserted by *VIP, as appropriate, when the suffix is combined with the name for output purposes.

Miscellaneous Style Issues

  • Do not split The University of Texas at “of” at the end of a line.
  • Do not split a hyphenated word at the end of a line.

Primary Contact

David Bourland

Updated October 12, 2012

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