Acceptance of Gifts Policy

Legislative History:

Approved by the Board of Governors: 1995/06/26; Date Effective: 1995/06/26, Amended: 2006/12/04, Amended: 2018/05/01

Approval Authority: Board of Governors


1.   Purpose and Summary

This policy is intended to guide the acceptance of gifts made to York University including how gifts are valued and receipted.

2.   Scope

This policy applies to all persons, including students, involved in any aspect of fundraising on behalf of York University.  It applies to all gifts from donors.

3.   Definitions

Gift:  a gift of money or other property irrevocably given to the University without any expectation of advantage to the donor or any third party designated by the donor.

Expendable Gift:  a gift which will be spent in its entirety over a period of time, in accordance with an established schedule or at the University’s discretion.

Endowed Gift:  a gift to be invested permanently to produce an income either for the general benefit of the University or for a specific purpose.  Only income generated from the gift is spent, not the original funds provided by the donor.

Restricted Gift: a gift for which the donor has identified a specific purpose for its use.

Unrestricted Gift: a gift for which the donor intends the University to decide how to use the funds.

4. Principles

York University welcomes gifts from individuals, organizations, corporations, foundations and governments to help us achieve our academic mission, to enhance our programs and support our students.

The University values and will protect its integrity, autonomy and academic freedom.  It will not accept gifts when a condition of such acceptance would result in an abridgement of its academic freedom or its integrity.

Acceptance of gifts will be done in a manner that respects the responsibility of the Board of Governors for the financial affairs of the University and the responsibility of Senate for academic policy matters including establishing academic programs and awarding scholarships.

5. Gift Acceptance

The University may receive the following types of gifts consistent with requirements of the Canada Revenue Agency and the laws of the Province of Ontario:

  1. Cash and cash equivalents
  2. Personal or real property
  3. Bequests
  4. Publicly traded securities
  5. Gifts-in-kind
  6. Gifts of life insurance
  7. Charitable gift annuities
  8. Charitable trusts
  9. Gifts of residual interest

The University may accept or decline to accept any gift or donation and will make its decision to do so on the basis of what is in the best interest of the University in the circumstances.

Unless subject to an agreement to use the gift for a specific purpose (i.e. restricted), gifts are received unconditionally and may be used for such purposes as the University determines are most appropriate (i.e. unrestricted).

It is not the practice of the University to manage gift annuities, but rather to purchase reinsured gift annuities from life insurance companies.

The University will not serve as a trustee of charitable remainder trusts.

All financial assets held by the University are invested in accordance with policies established and approved by the Board.

All donors may choose to have their gift fully expended or, if the gift is $25,000 or more, to have it endowed.  All donors may direct their gift to a specific faculty/department or approved project.

Ownership of all gifts vests in York University whether or not they are for the benefit of the University generally or for some specific purpose in it.

In appropriate circumstances, the University may involve a donor in providing advice on the program or project being funded where such involvement is consistent with the principles identified in section 4 of this policy.

6. Relationship With Donors

All University representatives engaged in fundraising will conduct themselves in accordance with accepted professional standards. They will inform, serve, guide and otherwise assist donors who wish to support York’s activities but will not pressure or unduly persuade donors.

All University representatives are required to declare any potential conflict of interest, real or perceived, they may have in engaging in fundraising activities with a specific donor or group of donors.  The Vice-President, Advancement or delegate will consider the potential conflict of interest and determine what action, if any, should be taken.

The University does not provide any legal, accounting, tax or financial advice to donors with respect to gifts to the University.  Donors are encouraged to seek independent legal, accounting, tax or financial advice from professionals and are responsible for all costs incurred in relation to obtaining such advice.

7. Gift Valuation and Receipting

In all cases, the University will value and receipt gifts in a fair and equitable manner and based on Canada Revenue Agency guidelines.

Cash Gifts

Receipts will be issued for gifts of cash based on the amount received. Year-end gifts will qualify for current tax year receipts if they are post marked in the current year or officially received at York in the current year.

Gifts of Publicly Traded Securities

Receipts for gifts of publicly traded securities which are electronically transferred from a donor’s broker to the University’s broker will be issued based on the closing value of the security on the day it is received in the University’s brokerage account.

Under exceptional circumstances, such as a gift of illiquid securities, the University reserves the right to assess the fair market value of the securities and issue a receipt that best reflects the true value of the securities under normal and active market trading, as provided for by Canada Revenue Agency guidelines.

It is the University’s general practice to sell securities immediately upon receipt. The University reserves the right, on a case by case basis, to sell securities over a period of days, weeks or months when it is determined that the regular trading volume is not sufficient to absorb the securities without significantly and adversely affecting their value.

The University also reserves the right to refuse to accept a gift of securities that has negligible value in normal and active market trading.

Gifts-in-Kind

Non-cash gifts will be valued and receipted based on appraisals obtained by the donor and the University. It is the University’s practice to have the donor pay for appraisals. The University reserves the right to obtain, at its expense, its own appraisal in addition to the donor’s appraisal.

For gifts-in-kind or gifts-in-purchase-discount of a company’s products or services, it is the University’s practice to value such gifts based on the difference between the actual amount paid (if any) and the lower of the public sector discounted price and retail price.

Corporate Sponsorships

Receipts for cash sponsorships will be issued based on the amount received. For sponsorships of products and services and other in-kind support, valuation will be in accordance with the “Gifts-in-Kind” section of this policy. The University issues business receipts, not official charitable tax receipts, for corporate sponsorships.

Gifts of Cultural Property

York University will accept gifts of cultural property and shall follow the procedures for application, valuation and receipting as prescribed by Heritage Canada, the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board and Canada Revenue Agency as they may from time to time change.

Planned Gifts

Gifts such as life insurance policies, gifts of residual interests, charitable remainder trusts, charitable gift annuities, gifts of retirement benefits, and other planned gift vehicles will be valued and receipted using the formulas employed by recognized bodies such as the Canadian Association of Gift Planners and approved by Canada Revenue Agency as they may from time to time change.

8. Authorization

As delegated by the President, the Vice-President (Advancement) is responsible for ensuring that York University’s gift acceptance process is compliant with this policy and that the highest standards of professionalism are followed in the solicitation of gifts and in working with donors.  The Vice-President (Advancement) may authorize staff within the Office of the Vice-President (Advancement) or in other areas of the university to negotiate gifts and prepare gift agreements with prospective donors.

All gift agreements must receive the appropriate internal approvals, consistent with the York University Signing Authority Register.  The Vice-President (Advancement) will be responsible for ensuring the proper approval and execution of each gift agreement is completed and will attest to this by signing every gift agreement.

Only the Office of the Vice-President (Advancement) is authorized to issue charitable receipts and will do so in accordance with the requirements of the Canada Revenue Agency.

The Vice-President (Advancement) or his/her designate will develop guidelines for documentation of gifts and their designation to ensure that the donor’s wishes are articulated and met.