University Policies
Policy Contact
Accounts Payable Email 401-863-2716

Gifts and Donations to Individuals or Groups Policy

Policy No. Issue Date Effective Date

1.0 Policy Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to state the requirements for using University funds to purchase and give Gifts to and make Donations on behalf of faculty, staff, and students, as well as volunteers and others outside of the University.

2.0 To Whom the Policy Applies

This policy applies to all Brown University faculty, staff and students.

3.0 Policy Statement

Gifts can be monetary or tangible and are nonreciprocal, where no goods or services are promised, expected, implied or forthcoming in return. Examples of gifts include, but are not limited to: flowers, balloons or food for illness, hospitalization, or bereavement, and employee retirement gifts.

3.1 Allowable Circumstances and Associated Spending Limits

  • Illness or hospitalization of an employee or student – up to $100
  • Death of a Brown staff or faculty member or student or an employee's immediate family member – up to $100
  • As a thank-you for volunteers – up to $100, which should be commensurate with the type of volunteer activity (note: the volunteer’s name and the service provided should be included in the payment details)
    • Gift cards may be purchased as a thank-you for volunteers in accordance with the Gift Card Policy
  • Recognition of a long-term employee leaving a department or retiring from the University – up to $10.00 for every year of service, not to exceed $400, the maximum non-taxable limit established by the IRS

Any gifts for nonemployee recognition must be for a legitimate Brown Business Purpose and must not exceed $100.

3.2 Nonallowable Circumstances

  • Gift cards of any value to Brown University employees, students, researcher, temporary employees or to contractors currently under contract, in accordance with the Gift Card Policy
  • Holiday gifts
  • For personal reasons other than illness, hospitalization, or bereavement, including but not limited to: Administrative Assistant Day, birthdays, weddings, baby showers, housewarmings, or promotions
  • In recognition of employee work-related achievements or years of service (these may only be given through official recognition programs authorized by University Human Resources)
  • For service workers in lieu of payment (i.e., contractors)

3.3 Accepting Gifts

University employees, and their immediate family members, may accept personal gifts in accordance with section 3.5 of the Conflict of Interest and Commitment Policy

3.4 Donations

Donations are discouraged, except for memorial Donations to non-profit, charitable organizations. Exceptions should not exceed $500 and must be approved in advance in writing by a Senior Officer. When making payments to charitable organizations, include documentation explaining the nature of the Donation, the relationship to Brown University, and a copy of the organization’s tax exempt (501(c)3) certificate, and use spend category: Charitable Gift/Scholarship - External S9662. Brown University should be acknowledged as the sender of the donation, e.g., "from all your friends and colleagues at (University department)."

4.0 Definitions

For the purpose of this policy, the terms below have the following definitions:

Business Purpose: A statement that adequately describes a business expense as necessary, reasonable and appropriate for the University. All expenses must support or advance the goals, objectives and mission of the University.

Donation: A gift for charity, humanitarian aid, or to benefit a cause. Donations can take various forms, including money, services, or goods such as clothing, toys, food, or vehicles.

Gift: Something of value given voluntarily and is nonreciprocal, where no goods or services are promised, expected, implied or forthcoming in return.

Senior Officer: A member of the President's Cabinet.

5.0 Responsibilities

All individuals to whom this policy applies are responsible for becoming familiar with and following this policy.  University supervisors and employees with student oversight duties are responsible for promoting the understanding of this policy and for taking appropriate steps to help ensure and enforce compliance with it.

Financial Coordinator: Process payment for Gifts, including receipts and any other required documentation.

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

Accounts Payable: Review and approve the transaction.

Senior Officer: Approve Donations other than memorial Donations.

6.0 Consequences for Violating this Policy

Failure to comply with this and related policies is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension without pay, or termination of employment or association with the University, in accordance with applicable (e.g., staff, faculty, student) disciplinary procedures.

7.0 Related Information

Brown University is a community in which employees are encouraged to share workplace concerns with University leadership. Additionally, Brown’s Anonymous Reporting Hotline allows anonymous and confidential reporting on matters of concern online or by phone, 877-318-9184.

The following information complements and supplements this document. The information is intended to help explain this policy and is not an all-inclusive list of policies, procedures, laws and requirements.

7.2 Related Procedures


7.3 Related Forms


7.4 Frequently Asked Questions


7.5 Other Related Information


Policy Owner and Contact(s)

Policy Owner: Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer

Policy Approved by: Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer

Contact Information:

Accounts Payable Email 401-863-2716

Policy History

Policy Issue Date:

Policy Effective Date:

Policy Update/Review Summary:

Updated links and content.

Previous policy version(s) superseded by this policy:

  • Gifts and Donations Policy, Policy Last Reviewed Date: October 9, 2019


Webpage Updated January 22, 2024