3303 Gifts from University Funds

Responsible Official: 
Controller
Responsible Office: 
Controller's Office
Effective Date: 
July 1, 1998
Revision Date: 
May 16, 2016

Scope

This policy discusses the limitations placed on gifts that may be made from University funds, including gifts collected at the University for the benefit of third parties, expressions of sympathy or employee recognition, development gifts, gifts to public officials, and limits on charging instructions.

Policy Statement

This policy allows modest occasional gifts to be made to students, employees or immediate family members in expression of sympathy, and to employees for professional achievement in a limited number of situations as defined in this policy.

This policy recognizes that in certain circumstances the University’s missions of teaching and research, and its public service initiatives may be advanced through the giving of a gift using University funds.  The value of such gifts should not exceed the amount as defined in this policy. 

Exceptions to this policy require prior approval by the Controllers’ Office in consultation with the Provost’s Office, General Counsel or an Officer of the Corporation as appropriate.

In a limited number of instances the University’s objectives may also be achieved by making a contribution to another organization.  However, in every instance such contributions require prior approval by the Controllers’ Office in consultation with the Provost’s Office, General Counsel or an Officer of the Corporation as appropriate.

Reason for the Policy

Federal law and regulations restrict the use of University assets to make gifts to individuals or other organizations. The University must therefore provide for proper accounting treatment in the limited instances where such gifts are allowable.

Policy Sections

3303.1 Gifts Collected at the University for the Benefit of Third Parties

Employees, schools, departments, and offices of the University are prohibited from collecting contributions either to or on behalf of the University for the benefit of other organizations or private individuals, including University employees.

3303.2 Expressions of Sympathy or Employee Recognition or Retirement/Departure/Milestones

The University prohibits cash gifts to employees. No gifts of any kind should be charged to federal or non-federal grants.

Expressions of Sympathy

Non-cash expenses incurred in connection with personal expressions of sympathy or support toward employees or students are allowed only as modest (approximately $100) and occasional expressions such as:

  • serious illness or a hospital stay of an employee, emeritus faculty member, student, or immediate family member;
  • death of an employee, emeritus faculty member, student or an immediate family member.
    Immediate family is defined as employee’s
  • spouse or domestic partner
  • children or children of spouse or domestic partner
  • siblings or siblings of spouse or domestic partner
  • parents or parents of spouse or domestic partner

Note: cash donations, in lieu of flowers, to other not-for-profit and charitable organizations in the name of a deceased employee or employee’s immediate family member are allowed as an exception to policy

Employee Recognition

Non-cash expenses incurred in connection with personal expressions of congratulations toward other employees or students or postdoctoral fellows are allowed only as occasional, modest expressions of support and recognition on behalf of the University.

  • Employees: non-cash gifts of $75 or greater and all gift certificates that are given to employees must be reported to the Payroll Office for reporting to the IRS. The amount will be added as taxable income to their payroll records. Please contact Payroll Office at 203-432-5408.
  • Non Employees: non-cash gifts of $75 or greater and all cash/gift certificates that are given to non-employees must be reported to Accounts Payable for reporting to the IRS.

The following table summarizes when cash and non-cash gifts will be reported for tax purposes:

Type of Gift

Employees

Students

PostDoctoral Fellows (PDFs)

International Visitors

Cash  —Any Amount

N/A see note below

Yes

Yes

Yes

Gift Certificates—-Any Amount

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Non-Cash Gifts

•          < $75

No

No

No

No

•          ≥ $75

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Note: Employee recognition in the form of a bonus is always paid through payroll.

University funds may not be used to purchase gifts for any individual in recognition of events such as Secretary’s Day, birthdays, weddings or wedding/baby showers, housewarming or holidays. Refer to Policy 3302 Business Meals, Entertainment and Other Events for more details.

Approvals for Expressions of Sympathy and Employee Recognition

In all cases, approval in advance by the Dean, Chair or Major Department Head is required.

If individuals wish to provide a larger gift to their colleagues in connection with the situations listed above, the difference between the value of the gift and the maximum limitations set forth in the preceding paragraph must be paid by the individuals making the gift. All such individual contributions must be held separately and cannot be deposited to a University bank account and commingled with University funds.

Retirement or Departure or Milestones

Specific situations in which such non-cash gifts can be provided from University funds are set forth below:

  • retirement or other departure of long-standing employee with at least 10 years of service;
    • a non-cash gift with a value up to $400 can be provided from University funds.
  • University gifts for employee milestones as described below.

Suitable gift of value proportionate to the years of service as determined by the Department of Human Resources. Based upon years of service to the University, honorees are thanked and celebrated at every five-year milestone:

Years of Service

Certificate of Appreciation

Gift

Dinner, Video and Yearbook

5

X

   

10, 15, 20

X

X

 

25+

X

X

X

3303.3 Development Gifts

Gifts to donors or other individuals serving development interests, or for alumni relations purposes using university funds or property cannot exceed $100 in value. Any gift valued greater than this amount must be approved by the Controller’s Office and the VP of Development in consultation with with the Provost’s Office, General Counsel as appropriate. 

3303.4 Institutional Gifts

When University officials are visiting abroad or are hosting visitors from other institutions, University funds may be used to give such visitors a gift (i.e. value of $100 or less) as a sign of appreciation or gratitude. Any gift valued greater than this amount must be approved by the Controllers’ Office in consultation with the Provost’s Office, General Counsel or an Officer of the Corporation as appropriate.

3303.5 Public Officials

Federal and state laws severely restrict the nature and value of gifts that may be made to public officials, and those restrictions may vary depending on the type of gift as well as the office held by the official. Gifts to municipal officials may also be restricted.

In general, University policy prohibits all gifts to public officials, with the exception of token gifts valued at less that $10. Any exception to this limit should be discussed in advance with a member of the General Counsel’s staff in order to make certain of its allowability under the specific governing conditions. Any gift made in connection with a lobbying effort must be reported to the General Counsel’s Office.

There may be restrictions on paying honoraria to public officials and questions should be directed to the Office of VP and General Counsel or the Tax Office.

3303.6 Limitations on Charging Instructions and Tax withholding

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) generally requires the University to report the cash value of gift certificates as additional taxable wages to the employee. These gifts should be reported to the University Payroll department for proper withholding and reporting. Expenses for flowers, fruit baskets, and other authorized gifts are generally deemed to be unallowable expenses in accordance with federal costing principles. All such expenses must be coded to the proper account number as described in the University’s Chart of Accounts to facilitate exclusion from direct and facilities and administrative cost reimbursement from sponsored programs.

Expenses incurred in connection with gifts from University funds, including expressions of sympathy or employee recognition, should not generally be charged to restricted gift and endowment income accounts. Department lead administrators and operations managers are responsible for ensuring that restricted funds owned by any of their organizations are used in a manner consistent with the stated intentions of the donor. For guidance on the proper use of income associated with specific restricted funds, please contact Gift Administration at giftawards@yale.edu.

Exceptions to this policy require the prior approval by the Controllers' Office in consultation with the Provost's Office, General Counsel or an Officer of the Corporation as appropriate.

Roles and Responsibilities

Officers of the Corporation

Consider and rule on proposed gifts and donations in consultation with General Counsel.

General Counsel’s Office

Advise the Officers of the Corporation or their designees on proposed gifts and donations.

Vice President for Development

Consider and rule on proposed gifts serving development interests.

Vice President and Secretary

Consider and rule on proposed gifts promoting alumni relations.

Controller’s Office

Interpretation of this policy.

Department of Human Resources

Determine, obtain and distribute University gifts for employee milestones.

Department Administrators and Other Financial Personnel

Consider and rule on proposed gifts that are expressions of sympathy or employee recognition within this policy. Seek approval for all gifts and donations other than those specifically allowed by this policy. Properly code all gifts allowable under this policy.