Purchasing

    Entertainment and Gift Policy

    PURPOSE

    This policy sets forth basic, consistent, University-wide standards for payment of non-travel business meals, refreshments, gifts, and other hospitality expenses with University funds. Non-travel business would include hosting official guests, training sessions, conferences, or other University-sponsored events to conduct official Clark University business. Clark University recognizes the importance of conducting business meetings, outreach and community events intended to further the University's mission. However, employees must be cognizant of budget constraints and appearances when spending University funds on meals and refreshments for these events and ensure that all purchases are necessary to meet the mission and objectives of the University.

    This policy does not cover meals while travelling or for single day trips. Please refer to Clark's Travel Expense Policy.

    SCOPE

    This policy and its procedures apply to all individuals whose entertainment expenses are paid by the University or by grant, award, or other external funding source. If expenses are charged to a sponsored project, the grant or contract guidelines must take precedence if they are more restrictive than University policy.

    At their discretion, departments may impose more restrictive guidelines for budgetary or control reasons.

    If a proposed expenditure is not listed in this policy, the following standards should guide the final expenditure decision:

    • There must be an approved budget line for such expenditures.
    • Each department, unit, and approving official must exercise prudent judgment to ensure that the commitment of University funds is appropriate and essential for business meetings and entertainment/hosting functions.
    • Business meeting expenditures incurred by University employees and on behalf of non-employees must support the University's academic, institutional, or public service mission.
    • The expenditure will not be personal in nature.
    • The expenditure will not be used as additional compensation (e.g., bonuses, cash, gifts, prizes, awards, etc.) except as outlined in this policy.

    MEAL AND REFRESHMENT EXPENSES

    Meals or refreshments may be provided to employees, students, donors or guests attending University events including career fairs, conferences, student recognition or outreach events, programmatic activities, employee recruitment functions, retreats, retirement receptions or other events with a documented business purpose which are intended to further the University's mission. Meetings or conferences must have at least one Clark employee present.

    Expenses for local dining involving non-University personnel (trustees, donors, alumni, parents, vendors, job candidates, professional guests, etc.) are reimbursable when the purpose of the meeting is to conduct University business and when it is necessary or desirable to have the meeting in conjunction with, or during a meal. Entertainment expenses should be reasonable in relation to the nature of the function and the resulting University benefit expected to be derived from the expenditure. To be reimbursed for meals, an itemized receipt is required - a credit card receipt is not sufficient. The IRS requires that all business meal expenditures must document the following information:

    • List of attendees
    • The business purpose of the meal (topic of discussion)
    • The cost supported by detailed receipt
    • The location
    • The date
    • Description of meal (i.e. lunch, dinner)

    It is recommended that a Meal and Entertainment Documentation Form be used to document this information.

    Entertainment of fellow faculty/staff is not an allowable expense. The University will not normally pay for meals (on or off campus) for faculty or staff meetings even if some University business is discussed. Administrative department heads or academic chairs can authorize the use of University funds in department budgets to provide light refreshments for occasional group faculty/staff meetings.

    The University may pay for or reimburse costs for meals or refreshments associated with certain employee appreciation activities. Such occasions include a gathering to honor a departing employee who is retiring or who is separating from employment after several years of University service, employee recognition receptions, and new employee receptions. University funds may not be used for occasions such as employee birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, or other celebrations of a personal nature, which should either be funded by faculty/ staff contributions or by a pot luck meal.

    Expenditures associated with University-wide employee functions held by the President and/or Human Resources (e.g., new faculty/staff member receptions, ceremonial receptions, faculty/staff appreciation and employment service award programs, employee picnic, etc.) are considered appropriate use of University funds.

    GIFTS TO FACULTY, STAFF, OR STUDENTS

    Except for faculty or staff recognition gifts purchased by the Human Resources department, no gifts to faculty, staff, or students will be reimbursable from University accounts. Small gifts to staff or student employees are a personal decision that should be funded by personal funds or from a collection of donations from departmental members.

    Upon the death of an employee or an employee's immediate family, a floral arrangement or suitable gift of condolence will be made on behalf of the University by the Human Resources department. Any additional condolence gifts should not to be purchased with University funds, but should be financed through voluntary contributions

    SPECIAL SITUATIONS/EXCEPTIONS

    Invoices and requests for reimbursement not in accordance with this policy must be approved by the President, Provost, Executive Vice President or the Vice President for Budget and Planning.

View Official Policy in PDF