Donations and Gifts

The terms “donation” and “gift” have different meanings at UBC depending on the context.

In the information below, donations and gifts are discussed in the following three contexts:

  • Expenditure Context
  • Revenue Context
  • Workday Context

Expenditure Context


University funds are generally not used for donations to other charitable organizations. There are some scenarios where donations with university funds are permitted.

Sponsorships and Non-Research Donations
Sponsorships and non-research grants are permitted for donations, as these are contributions made to other organizations where UBC may receive advertising, promotion, product, service, or another advantage. In FMS, account code 658400 should be used for UBC sponsorship and non-research grant expenses. In Workday, spend category SC0126 “Sponsorships” should be used.

Other Circumstances
In limited circumstances, a donation may be permitted in lieu of another expense item (i.e. a speaker’s fee) to a qualified donee (Crown or another registered charity). In these cases, please contact DAE Finance for further guidance.

Gift (Token of Appreciation or Support)

There is a long-standing tradition at UBC that members of faculty and staff voluntarily and spontaneously contribute funds toward gifts in honour of fellow members of faculty and staff. Nothing in this guideline is intended to discourage this tradition.

Gifts offered to a visiting dignitary, donor, volunteer, member of Senate, member of the Council of Senates, member of the Board of Governors, or member of faculty or staff are meant as a symbolic gesture of respect. They should be of a moderate value, and do not represent an honorarium or performance-related prize, nor do they constitute an event.

Gifts are normally tokens of appreciation or support and generally should not exceed $100 for reimbursement from or expenditure from the University. Exceptions can be made only with pre- approval by the Unit Head or their designate.

Gifts of alcohol will not, however, be reimbursed by University funds. It is recommended that non-cash gifts and awards be given to employees to recognize accomplishment and service as these are considered non-taxable per CRA policy.

Gifts of near cash equivalents (i.e. gift cards and gift certificates) are only to be given to employees in cases where pre-approval has been given by the respective Dean/VP or President. In these cases, information regarding the gift date, amount, and purpose must be submitted to Payroll, as they are considered a taxable benefit regardless of the cost as per CRA policy.


Revenue Context

Gift (Donation)

As defined in UBC Fundraising Policy FM6, a donation is a voluntary transfer of property from a donor to UBC without any expectation of return or benefit. Policy FM6 uses the term “gift” interchangeably with the term “donation”. Donations generally are in the form of cash, cash-equivalents, or gifts-in-kind (example: cash, cheque, credit card, physical property, shares).

Development and Alumni Engagement (“DAE”) is responsible for issuing official donation receipts for donations (gifts) received by UBC, in compliance with the requirements of the Income Tax Act (Canada), Canada Revenue Agency guidelines, and in accordance with procedures established by UBC.

For further information, please contact Development and Alumni Engagement.


Workday Context

UBC’s finance system, Workday, contains structures called "worktags" that help drive data classification, functionality, reporting, and analysis. Gifts, as referenced in the above Expenditure or Revenue contexts, can be tagged within Workday using worktags, including the "Gift Worktag", the "Grant Worktag" or the "Program Worktag". UBC’s Foundational Data Model includes definitions for these Worktags, and we have included the definitions for Gift Worktags below. For more information on the various worktags and how they apply, please refer to the Workday Finance 101 Foundations course available to all UBC faculty and staff.

Gift Worktag: Funding that can be an endowment or a donation that is not used to fund a capital project, and in which external reporting restrictions apply.

Gift Initiative Worktag: A level below a gift worktag in an Endowment Fund, and used when an Endowment Gift supports multiple initiatives.