Gift Acceptance Guidelines


The following Gift Acceptance Guidelines have been established to create a framework for the solicitation, review, acceptance and administration of gifts made to the University of Calgary (UCalgary). These guidelines are subject to review and updating to ensure they support the university’s mandate, and maintain UCalgary’s charitable standing. The University of Calgary is a registered charity and complies with requirements of the Income Tax Act.

The Guidelines have been established to ensure:

  1. the University’s principles, policies and procedures are reflected throughout the gift acceptance process, including undertaking appropriate due diligence associated with each received gift;
  2. informed decisions are made concerning the acceptance of gifts;
  3. gifts are handled in compliance with applicable legislation and policies — federal, provincial and/or municipal;
  4. efficient administrative, legal and accounting practices are followed; and
  5. consistent and ethical relations with all donors and other supporters of the University are maintained.


The University of Calgary is a leading research-intensive university and is committed to excellence in teaching, research and driving positive change in our communities. To achieve and maintain excellence among the leading Canadian public research universities, UCalgary is fortunate to have philanthropic support from private benefactors. The University welcomes gifts from individuals and entities (including, but not limited to, corporations, partnerships, charitable and other not-for-profit entities) as a vital addition to support from levels of government.


Philanthropy plays a vital role in supporting and elevating our community. Donor generosity allows us to create opportunities for students, researchers, and faculty members to make a lasting impact on society. We are deeply grateful for the continued support from our community members, as it enables us to foster growth, innovation, and positive change within the University and beyond.

James Allan, PhD

Vice-President of Advancement 

Gift Acceptance Guidelines

1.1    The purpose of the University is set out in the University of Calgary Statement of Purpose. The University’s mandate can be found here.

1.2    The University values and will protect its integrity, autonomy, reputation and academic freedom, and does not accept gifts when acceptance would compromise its fundamental principles.

1.3    Gifts for Chairs, Professorships, and other academic appointments and programs must be in full agreement with all relevant University policies, guidelines, practices and procedures. These include: Academic Staff Criteria and Processes Handbook and Endowed Chairs Policy.

1.4    Naming in recognition of gifts shall be in accordance with the University’s Philanthropic Naming Policy.

1.5    The University is committed to the highest standards of donor stewardship and accountability including appropriate acknowledgement and recognition for gifts (including, but not limited to naming as provided) as determined by the University.

1.6    The terms and conditions governing gifts to the University and their use shall be matters of public record, except for information that is personal or proprietary, in accordance with the

1.7    The University will not accept gifts that require it to provide valuable consideration to a donor or anyone designated by a donor (including, but not limited to, provision of employment in the University, enrolment in a University program or securing a University procurement contract).

1.8    Donors and others will be subject to confidentiality requirements and/or conflict-of-interest policies as appropriate to the initiatives being supported by the gift.

1.9    The University will not accept gifts that involve discrimination on prohibited grounds. The Alberta Human Rights Act specifically acknowledges “ameliorative programs”,  government laws and programs intended to improve the hardship of disadvantaged individuals or groups. It is not a contravention of this Act to plan, advertise, adopt or implement a policy, program or activity that ameliorates or improves the conditions of disadvantaged persons or classes of disadvantaged persons, including those who are disadvantaged because of their race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation. For example, if the award is aimed at a ‘disadvantaged class or person’ and is meant to, at some level, ameliorate that disadvantage, then the award is not a violation of the Alberta Human Rights Act.

1.10    Use of undesignated gifts will be determined by the Vice-President (Advancement), in consultation with the University’s Executive Leadership Team, to best advance the University’s mission and its approved strategic priorities.

1.11    Designated gifts are used expressly for the purposes for which they are given, and be consistent with the University’s mission and with the approved academic and/or research priorities, as indicated here.

1.12    University funds that are made available from time to time as matches to donations will be allocated in accordance with established accounting guidelines and budgetary procedure.

1.13    UCalgary values ii’ taa’poh’to’p, its Indigenous strategy, that guides the University on its path of transformation and demonstrates our commitment to truth and reconciliation. This is systems-change work that engages our entire institution and the people connected to it.

Through this work, we are strengthening relationships with Indigenous peoples and communities, working together to build knowledge and understanding of Indigenous ways of being, knowing, doing and connecting into how we operate as an organization. This ultimately shapes the experiences of the people who come here to learn, work and participate in the UCalgary community. UCalgary is uniquely positioned to support many Calgarians on their personal journeys of truth and reconciliation. As an educational institution, we have a mandate to ensure that students are receiving the historical education both in the classroom and across the campus. We have a responsibility to ensure that Indigenous ways of knowing are recognized and validated. We have a responsibility to disseminate research and education to the public in a culturally appropriate way.

UCalgary holds all donors in high esteem. While seeking donations in support of University priorities, faculty, staff, board members, volunteers and others have an ethical responsibility to uphold the interest and well-being of the University's benefactors.

2.1   In certain circumstances, UCalgary recommends that a donor seek independent, qualified advice before making a gift as the University is not privy to the donor’s circumstances and is not qualified to provide advice, nor provide advice on the appropriateness of a gift.

2.2   All decisions regarding the administration and use of a gift will be made by the University, subject to any gift agreement. The University is committed to working with donors to best understand the intentions of their gift.

2.3   A donor must disclose any conflict or potential conflict of interest (including, without limitation, as defined in the University's Code of Conduct, which may be revised from time to time) between the donor and the University at the time the gift is made. Failure by the donor to disclose any existing or potential conflict of interest may result in the termination of any gift agreement at the discretion of the University.

2.4   A donor cannot choose a specific non-arm’s-length beneficiary for a gift, nor request that the University give the gift to a non-qualified donee. However, subject to agreement of UCalgary, a donor can direct that their gift be used by the University at a faculty or department, in a particular manner, or for a particular purpose such as (but not limited to) for scholarships, etc. Other than recognition, there should be no benefit to the donor or anyone not at arm's length to the donor.

2.5    Acceptance of a gift by the University does not constitute an endorsement by the University of a donor’s views, products, opinions or businesses.

2.6   The donor shall not participate in the operations of, nor be employed or retained by, the University in relation to the use of the gift. All decisions regarding the administration of the gift rest with the University of Calgary.

Gifts of cash or near cash (something easily converted to cash such as securities, bonds or precious metals/jewels) will require a different level of due diligence to be completed by UCalgary prior to accepting a gift. An official Receipt for the fair market value of such gift (including any currency-exchange implications) will be available.  Before the acceptance of any of the following gifts, especially if the gift is considered significant, the University will usually undertake such due diligence, have secured appropriate opinions on all relevant issues and/or imposed such conditions, as it determines appropriate:

  1. Real estate;
  2. Shares of privately held companies or interests in other privately held entities (such as partnership interests), including debt of same;
  3. Tangible personal property (other than cash and near cash or publicly traded securities) that might include gifts of art, books and other gifts-in-kind;
  4. Other property interests not readily negotiable;
  5. Charitable gift annuities;
  6. Residual interest gifts, including charitable remainder trusts; and
  7. Life insurance with premiums remaining to be paid.

For accepting complex gifts, the Office of Advancement may consult with a gift acceptance committee. The composition of this committee can change based on the kind of gift that the Vice-President (Advancement) would like to discuss the acceptance of, but may include:

  • The dean or the department head of the unit that is accepting the gift;
  • A director specializing in matters of gifts compliance;
  • The appropriate legal counsel;
  • Representation from the Vice-President (Research) office, if the gift is supporting research;
  • Finance department representative; or
  • Other colleagues across campus might be invited based on the nature of the offered gift.

The University of Calgary always has the discretion to accept or decline gifts. Certain categories of donations are not acceptable as gifts. For example, gifts cannot be accepted when made only for the personal benefit of any individual(s). Similarly, proposed gifts that might expose the University to adverse publicity or other negative consequences, require undue expenditures, or involve the University in unexpected responsibilities because of their source, conditions or purposes, may be declined after review by UCalgary. Without limiting the foregoing, the following are examples of circumstances in which gifts would be declined:

  • The gift does not align with the University’s mandate or values;
  • The time and cost of handling the gift is disproportionate to its expected value;
  • The gift exposes the University to excessive liability or reputation risks;
  • The gift involves false promises on the part of either party;
  • The gift could jeopardize the University’s charitable status;
  • The gift could improperly benefit a donor or non-arm’s-length party;
  • There are physical or environmental hazards to the University in accepting the gift;
  • The University is unable to honour the terms of the gift;
  • The gift, or the terms of the gift, are illegal; or
  • The fair market value of the gift cannot be determined.

The following transactions do not constitute philanthropy and are not eligible for tax receipts:

  • A gift of service;
  • The purchase of an item or service from the University;
  • A court-ordered/approved donation to a qualified donee;
  • Sponsorship of campus research projects for which the donor retains right of property, including intellectual property, and/or has preferential access to research results;
  • Sponsored research where the institution provides research according to a specified statement of deliverables and/or procedures or there is an economic benefit to the organization;
  • A gift of debt from a person or partnership, or a share of a capital stock of a corporation that does not deal at arm’s length with the charity; and
  • Lending of software licences is not considered philanthropic, as ownership remains with the company.

Donations from employees of the University of Calgary are subject to the same rules as donations from other donors. It is important to adhere to guidelines as outlined below to avoid situations, in fact or appearance, where the donor (who is entitled to a tax receipt) is also benefiting from the funds. For the purposes of these guidelines, "employee" collectively refers to academics, researchers and administrative staff employed by the University of Calgary.

An Official Receipt will not be issued where the donation is to be used for the donor’s own benefit or the benefit of a person with whom the donor does not deal at arm’s length. Therefore, an employee deriving a direct or indirect benefit from a tax-receipted donation contravenes tax legislation and places both the employee and UCalgary’s charitable status at risk. It is the responsibility of all University parties to avoid situations, in fact or appearance, where a donor is benefiting from donated funds.

  • Gifts may not be credited to a fund/project set up specifically under the control, or for the benefit, of the individual donor.
  • Restricted gifts must not be directed to a fund where the donor is the signing officer (“project owner”), nor should the donor be deriving a direct or indirect benefit.
  • Restricted gifts from employees will be subject to the customary requirements relating to these types of gifts. The spending restriction must be clearly stated and cannot benefit the donor directly or indirectly. Restricted donations must not be directed to a fund where the donor is the project owner.

Procedure for Conflict of Interest

The Guidelines reflect the fundamental principles that shape UCalgary’s relationships with its donors. It is anticipated that the Guidelines will be available to donors, prospective donors and others upon request. The Guidelines are meant to establish the basis for the acceptance of different types of gifts, but is not meant to be an exhaustive list. The Guidelines are expected to evolve and change over time. The circumstances surrounding each gift, as well as the University’s requirements for each gift, will be considered alongside these Guidelines, and, upon occasion, the University may consider alternatives to what are set forth in the Guidelines.

The University of Calgary reserves the right to decline a gift where there may be a reputational risk associated with the potential gift, or accept a gift with conditions, whether the proposed gift is in accord with the then-current version of the Guidelines and whether or not the University may have previously accepted a gift in similar circumstances or accepted it without conditions.

The above guidelines are a summary of detailed operating guidelines that exist within the University of Calgary as they pertain to all aspects of charitable giving to the University.

If you have questions about specific types of gifts or sponsorship opportunities, please contact us and we will be happy to speak with you.

Contact us:

Prepared September 1998 / Revised July 2001 / Revised November 2023