Manager of Restricted Funds Supervises Million-Dollar, Special-Purpose Accounts

Kim Savinelli, manager of restricted funds, oversees the accounting aspects of about 1,200 grants and monetary gifts given to Wesleyan for a specific – or restricted – purpose.
Posted 07/11/07
When a donor specifies how his or her money should be spent at Wesleyan, Kim Savinelli makes sure the donor’s wishes are met.

Savinelli, manager of restricted funds in the Office of Finance and Administration, insures that all special-case gifts, grants and endowments are spent properly. Restricted funds range from grants awarded by federal agencies to monetary gifts made by alumni for a specific purpose.

“Every gift needs to be input into our system and tracked,” Savinelli says. “And similar to an auditor, I need to verify that every gift gets allocated to the right account, and all Wesleyan’s restricted funds are spent properly.”

Managing Wesleyan’s restricted accounts is primarily accounting work, but Savinelli often meets with staff outside of the Office of Finance. Her biggest “clients” are University Relations and the faculty.

University Relations, Wesleyan’s development department, brought in more than $35 million in alumni donations, gifts and endowments last year. Grants funded by federal, state and corporate foundations comprise another $8 million each year. Savinelli supervises how the restricted dollars are spent.

“Each restricted gift is unique in that a donor or corporation wants their money spent a different way, for example applying funds towards the new sciences building, financial aid, or even funding a professorship,” Savinelli explains.

In addition, she calculates how restricted endowment fund income is applied. Endowment gifts are permanently invested, and Wesleyan relies solely on the interest income they generate to support university initiatives. Restricted endowments will often pay for professorships, such as the J. Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy position, currently held by Bill Herbst, professor of astronomy; or the E.B. Nye Professor of Chemistry, held by Albert Fry, professor of chemistry.

“Endowment spending has lots of restrictions. Each fund is set up so that they’re buying units in a pool,” Savinelli explains. “My job is to figure out who gets what piece of the pie, and that the money is being spent appropriately.”

Once a gift is accepted, Savinelli enters it into a program to keep track of it, making sure it is being spent properly. She runs monthly reports on all the accounts, and trains others in the departments how to read and work with the reports.

Kim works closely with the office of stewardship in University Relations, providing information for personalized letters that are sent by the Stewardship Team, which is led by Anne Bergen.

“We let the donor know that Wesleyan has spent their money according to what the person or the organization wanted us to spend it on. That keeps everyone involved happy,” Savinelli says.

In between playing watchdog to some 1,200 accounts, Savinelli coordinates the annual federal and state audits. Savinelli says she loves working with numbers, however working as an account manager requires one additional skill she has mastered – organization. Papers on her desk are stacked neatly in a dozen piles, and account information from years prior is stored in colorful three-ring binders.

“I never throw anything away, so it’s important that I stay very organized and methodical,” she says, smiling. “That’s typical of an accountant. You have to be organized to get it all done. All the information I need is here at my fingertips.”

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Boston College, Savinelli worked at KPMG, a public accounting firm, specializing in non-profit agencies, where Wesleyan was one of her clients.

While working at KPMG, she received her Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certificate. She then took a job as a controller at Bay Path College in Longmeadow, Mass. for two years, and ended up at Wesleyan in 1999.

Savinelli lives in Glastonbury with her husband, Robert, and daughters Kate, 6, and Allison, 4. She enjoys cooking, home improvement projects, and reading as part of a book club. She’s planning to try yoga this summer.

“I’m a high-energy person at work and at home, and I like to keep busy and try new things,” she says.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor