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Reimbursement Policies

  • 1.  Reimbursement Policies

    Posted 11-12-2021 10:42 AM
    Does any organization have a different policy on reimbursement of employee travel expenses vs. external speaker travel expenses that would be funded from donor dollars?

    We have run into an issue in reimbursing a speaker funded from donor dollars where the gift agreement didn't have specifics about how much of the gift should be used for travel.  Our procurement process kicked back the reimbursement saying the travel cost was more per diem than the university policy.   We indicated that the gift agreement doesn't have that restriction - it just says to support a speaker.  For what it's worth, the difference was only $130 and we are going to acknowledge this one as an exception.

    Does/should/can a gift agreement trump an institutional policy?  Do we need to put into gift agreements reference to internal policies that might additionally govern the use of the donor funds?  We do reference certain policies in our gift agreements (e.g. investment policy) but wondering how far this should go?

    Interested in what other institutions/organizations are doing.



    Thomas Chaves
    Associate VP for Advancement Operations
    St. Joseph's University

  • 2.  RE: Reimbursement Policies

    Posted 11-12-2021 01:36 PM
    When I encountered this from the other side, procurement said the same thing - basically, once the donor gave the money, and in the absence of any stipulation to the contrary, the org spends/stewards the funds in accordance with its policies. One way to avoid this issue is to have external speakers quote an all-inclusive fee. I have found this to be very satisfactory - reduces everyone's paperwork. This isn't exactly responsive to your policy questions, as much as a way of avoiding the issue. 

    On a policy level, the decision to observe or override happens at the level of the gift agreement. If the gift agreement isn't specific, the assumption has to be that org policy should be followed. A donor gives to an institution under the assumption that their money will be spent according to policy, even if the donor isn't aware of all the policies. When authoring these kinds of policies, the typical approach is to give someone exception authority, and have them make a sound decision taking the facts into account. 

    Thank you,
    Isaac Shalev
    Data Strategy Expert
    Sage70, Inc.
    (917) 859-0151

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