Gifts and Donations Policy


This policy states the requirements for gifts to faculty, staff, students, volunteers and others outside of the University.

Policy Statement 

A gift can be monetary or tangible and is given to someone without the expectation of payment or return.  Examples of gifts include:  Flowers for illness/hospitalization/bereavement, host/hostess gifts, alumni gifts, employee retirement, and gifts to donors.

Gifts in recognition of employee work-related achievement or years of service are given through official recognition programs authorized by the Human Resources Department.

The University is classified by the IRS as a tax-exempt charitable organization. As such, donations made by the University to other charitable organizations (with the exception of memorial gifts) are discouraged.


Permissible Gifts

  • Illness/hospitalization of an employee or student, requiring hospitalization. The spending guidelines for this gift is $100.
  • The death of an employee or an employee's immediate family member. Memorial gifts made on behalf of an employee may include flowers or a donation to a charitable organization. In such cases Brown University should be acknowledged as the sender, e.g., "from all your friends and colleagues at (University department)." In the case of a donation to a charity, the notation should indicate the donation is from the University department. The spending guideline for either a gift or memorial donation is $100.
  • Thank you gifts for volunteers.  Include the name of the volunteer and the service the volunteer provided in the payment details.
  • Gift cards/certificates may be purchased as a thank you for a volunteer as long as the volunteer is not a Brown University employee, student, researcher, temporary employee, or a contractor currently under contract.
    ●     Recognition of a long-term employee leaving a department or retiring from the University. The spending guidelines for this gift is $10.00 for every year of service. Such gifts should not exceed $400, the maximum non-taxable limit established by the IRS, for gifts of recognition to long-term employees.

Gifts not Permitted

  • Gift cards/certificates, of any value, to Brown University employees, students, researcher, temporary employees or to contractors currently under contract.
  • Holiday gifts for faculty, staff, students and volunteers purchased with any University funds.
  • Gifts to an individual for personal reasons other than illness/hospitalization/bereavement such as: Administrative Assistant Day, birthday, wedding, baby shower, housewarming, promotion, etc.  These gifts are never permitted and are considered a personal expense.

When payments are made to charitable organizations the request must include documentation explaining the nature of the donation, the relationship to Brown University, and a copy of the organizations tax exempt (501(c)3) certificate.  With the exception of a memorial gift to a charity that complies with spending guidelines, donations must be approved at the senior officer level.


Financial Coordinator:  Create the supplier invoice for the payment and include receipts and any other required documentation as outlined in Procedures (below).

Cost Center Manager:  Approve the supplier invoice and ensure the correct spend category is used.

Accounts Payable:  Review and approve the supplier invoice.

Senior Officer:   Approve donations other than memorial donations.

  • Gifts and memorial gifts are purchased using either the PCard, supplier invoice, or in the case of a memorial gift (such as flowers), the purchaser may be reimbursed using an expense report. 
    • Memorial donations (such as a donation to the American Heart Association) must be made using either the PCard or supplier invoice.  These donations must be paid directly by Brown.  Employees may not make a memorial donation and subsequently seek reimbursement.
  • Use the Gifts and Hospitality spend category: 3220
  • Donations (other than memorial donations) are processed on a supplier invoice.  Attach the tax exempt organization’s 501(c)3 certificate, documentation explaining the organization’s relationship with Brown University, the reason for the donation, and a senior officer approval.
  • Use the Donations spend category: 3240
Policy Owner
Approved by 
Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer

John Haden
Accounts Payable Manager
[email protected]

Revision Date:  Wed, 2019-10-09 12:29