Gifts Given by Departments

Op3.12-10 Gifts Given by Departments

What is my role as Department Head?

There are two types of gifts that arise in the conduct of University business:  gifts given by departments to employees, students, or outside individuals, and gifts given to employees from outside parties.  This section addresses departmental gifts. 

The key role of the Department Head is to ensure that (a) any gifts given by the department follow University policy; and (b) all gifts given by a department are identified for annual fiscal reporting to the Dean and President’s Office.

Gifts by departments to individuals

The Department Head is responsible for approving or denying any gifts that are requested by faculty/staff for individuals inside or outside the University.   It is the responsibility of the Department Head to use good judgment in giving gifts, in the frequency of gifts, and in the cost of gifts.  All gifts should be approved in advance of the date of gift.  Gifts must have a definite business purpose and, where appropriate, may be given to students, employees, or outside parties.  The key is to effectively document and track all gifts.

During the year, every individual gift should be documented on the Gift Reporting Form and sent immediately from all University Departments to the Dean, who then submits to the Vice Presidents, to be sent to Financial Services and to the President’s office per the policy:

“The deadline for Award/Gift/Prize Reporting Forms to be submitted to Financial Services is based on the tax calendar year, with the last day to submit the form being December 31st of the current tax year. Please note this form is used for reporting purposes as regulated by the IRS; thus, we require immediate remittance to Financial Services for timely reporting. Departmental support is requested. Every fiscal year, each vice President is to also provide the President of the University with a composite list of all gifts given from departments in the vice President’s unit.”

Some gifts are funded through the Foundation funds; however, in certain cases, gifts are paid for by operating funds.  Gifts may be given to outside individuals, students, faculty, or staff. Regardless of the source of funds, these gifts must be reported.

What policies and resources are available?

The University recognizes that in certain instances it is acceptable to recognize a person by giving a gift which is intended to show the University’s appreciation for the individual.  Where gifts occur by the University to employees or students, the University’s Gift Policy provides that all gifts are documented, approved, justified, and identified as to funding source (Foundation versus University Account). 

This Gift Reporting Form should be sent to your Dean to be forwarded to the Provost’s Office:

What are examples of appropriate gifts funded by the Foundation and by the University’s operating funds?

The nature and amount of gifts can vary, depending on the circumstances and the mission of the Department.  Regardless of whether the gift is being paid from Foundation monies or operating budget, there should be a direct business related justification for any gift.  A gift should never be approved when there is a conflict of interest between the faculty/staff and the recipient of a gift. 

 Below are examples of gifts that have occurred in the past, and their funding source:

  • Gift certificates (prizes) to students for participation in Student Activity Council events
  • MSU logo apparel to donors (University apparel)
  • Small gifts to International visitors 

Guidelines for gifts to employees from outside parties are addressed within the Conflict of Interest / Ethics and Financial Disclosure policy.

 On a practical basis – what should I do?

  • Gifts by departments are appropriately an area that is subject to much scrutiny; thus, the importance of timely reporting all gifts employees and students / non-students to your Dean.  As such, the Department Head should ensure that parameters for gifts within the Department are understood in advance.
  • Discuss with employees (staff and faculty) the University’s policies regarding receipt of gifts.
  • Should an outside vendor give an inappropriate gift (over $200, etc.) to an employee, the gift must be immediately returned to the vendor.

What if I have questions?

If you have any question, seek your Dean’s guidance in advance of the gift to staff/faculty.