Gift Acceptance Policy

Category: Board of Trustees

Approval: Board of Trustees

Responsibility: Vice-Principal (Advancement)

Date initially approved: November 1997

Procedures Revised: February 1999 Full Review: November 2002

Approved by the Board of Trustees December 2002 Amended May 2012, March 2019, September 2023

Table of Contents


  1. Purpose 
  2. Scope
  3. Principles
  4. Authority
  5. Approvals


Donor: A person or entity making a Gift to the University.

Gift: A voluntary transfer of money or other property, sometimes referred to as a philanthropic, charitable donation, irrevocably given to the University, without any expectation of benefit to the Donor or to a third party designated by the Donor.

Policy: Means this Gift Acceptance Policy and all its related procedures as amended from time to time.

Reputation: Overall quality or character, as seen or judged by the Board of Trustees or its delegates.

Restricted Gift: A Gift must be used for a specific purpose, directed by the Donor. Sometimes referred to as designated. Undesignated or unrestricted Gifts may be used for any legal purpose the University deems appropriate.

Sacred Item: As defined by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), an object of Indigenous material culture deemed holy or sacrosanct by virtue of its ritual or ceremonial association. Depending upon the nation in question, Sacred Items can include a range of objects connected with drumming, dancing, smoking rituals, vision questing, fasting or traditional healing and sweat lodge rites.

Sponsored Research: Involves (i) funding from governmental funding agencies and other accredited funding organizations, (ii) contract research. It is possible to support research, where such support fits within the definition of Gift.

University: Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario. The University is a registered charity under the CRA. Its registered charitable number is 10786 8705 RR0001.

University Asset: A physical or non-physical resource or property of Queen’s University.

1. Purpose

1.1 This Policy has been established to create a framework for the solicitation, acceptance, administration, and stewardship of Gifts to the University, which are vital to advancing the mission and enhancing the programs and services of the University.

1.2 Gifts must be provided for the sole purpose of benefiting the University, without the expressed or implied expectation that the Donor will receive anything more than recognition as the result of such support.

2. Scope of this Policy

2.1 This Policy applies to Gifts made to or considered by the University including:

  • Gifts of cash and cash equivalents;
  • Gifts-in-kind including Gifts of real estate and Sacred Items;
  • Certified Canadian Cultural Property, as defined by CRA;
  • Designated Beneficiary Accounts (i.e. life insurance, annuities, retirement, pension and other registered savings funds);
  • Gifts of residual interest;
  • Publicly traded securities;
  • Charitable remainder trusts; and
  • Bequests.

2.2 This Policy applies to all Gifts to the University and to eligible organizations as defined by the CRA, which may include Queen’s affiliates and other intermediaries.

2.3 This Policy applies to all Gifts to the University, even where a Donor is not eligible for or seeking an official donation receipt for tax purposes.

2.4 This Policy does not apply to other forms of financial support to the University, such as:

  • Sponsorships, where the funding party receives a substantial advantage in return for the funding, in the form of a permitted association with the University; or
  • Sponsored Research.

3. Principles

3.1 The acceptance of a Gift must conform to the following principles:

  3.1.1 Each Gift shall align with the mission, vision, values, and priorities of the University while preserving academic freedom and the University’s integrity.

  3.1.2 Gifts shall be retained as a University Asset and used in connection with University activities, or disposed of for cash or cash equivalent with the proceeds to be used to support the University's mission at the discretion of the University.

  3.1.3 Gifts shall be made in accordance with this Policy and in accordance with other related policies, procedures, and guidelines.

  3.1.4 Gifts must be made, accepted, and used in accordance with applicable federal and provincial legislation, including but not limited to the Income Tax Act, CRA guidelines, Trust law and Ontario Human Rights Code.

  3.1.5 All Gifts must be made independent of all appointment, scholarship, and employment decisions.

  3.1.6 All Gifts must be made independent of student admission and curriculum decisions.

  3.1.7 All Gifts must be made independent of decisions about the procurement of products and services.

  3.1.8 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 independent professional advice. The University cannot suggest or endorse a third party as a source of Gift advice. When deemed necessary, Donors will be asked to provide the University with an acknowledgement that:

  • independent professional advice has been obtained; or
  • independent professional advice has been waived though recommended by the University; and
  • the University is released from any liability that may arise in relation to the making of the Gift.

3.2 The professional standards and code of behaviours set out by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) in the Donor Bill of Rights serves as the ethical guideline for University representatives working with Donors or raising Gifts on behalf of the University.

3.3 By law, a Gift transfers ownership of the money or other gifted property from the Donor to the University. Once the transfer is made, the University is obliged to use the Gift to further its charitable purpose. While a Donor can restrict a Gift for a specific purpose, after the Gift transfer is complete the Donor relinquishes control and influence over the Gift.

  3.3.1 The University is committed to ensuring the Gift is used for its intended purpose. If circumstances make the specified use of this Gift impractical, impossible, or inadvisable for all or part of the Gift to be applied to the purpose(s) described within the Gift Agreement, or if the purpose(s) cannot be achieved because of a future change in law, change in University practices, policies or academic priorities, or unforeseeable circumstances, the Gift may be used for any related purpose which, in the reasonable opinion of Queen’s (in consultation with the Donor where possible), will most nearly accomplish the Donor’s wishes or is consonant with the spirit and intent of the Gift.

4. Authority

4.1 The authority to approve or decline a Gift rests with the Board of Trustees and its delegates.

4.2 The Board of Trustees may delegate decision-making/approval authority to individuals or entities who will make decisions concerning Gift acceptance on behalf of the Board of Trustees in accordance with this Policy; such delegates shall be accountable to the Board of Trustees for their exercise of such delegated authority and, notwithstanding their delegated authority, may opt to bring Gift acceptance decisions to the Board of Trustees in exceptional instances. Normally, delegation to University administration shall be only to the Principal and Vice-Principal levels or those acting therein.

  4.2.1 The Vice-Principal (Advancement) has the delegated authority to approve or decline the acceptance of Gifts of less than $5 million.

  4.2.2 The Principal has the delegated authority to approve or decline the acceptance of Gifts of $5 million or more, but less than $10 million.

  4.2.3 The Principal has delegated authority to approve or decline the acceptance of Gifts deemed to be a Sacred Item.

4.3 Acceptance of any Gift which involves a naming is subject to the Naming Policy.

4.4 Notwithstanding any other provision of this Policy, the Board of Trustees and its delegates may decline a Gift in any circumstance, including but not limited to:

  • the Gift is not in accordance with the Principles of this Policy;
  • the Gift exposes the University to unacceptable risk or liability;
  • the Gift will be difficult or costly to administer;
  • the Gift may be funded through illegal or unethical activities;
  • the Gift is precedent setting;
  • the Gift could reasonably compromise the University's public image, Reputation or commitment to its academic mission and values;
  • the Gift involves thinly-traded/illiquid securities;
  • the Gift does not align with Queen’s values around Indigeneity, equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility, and anti-racism;
  • the legal or moral authority of the transferee to convey the gift is in question; or
  • the Gift could jeopardize the University’s registered charity status.

4.5 It is the University’s general policy to dispose of all Gifts of publicly traded securities as expeditiously as possible. Thus, the University will attempt to sell, as soon as reasonably practical, all Gifts of securities at a reasonable price, consistent with market conditions. The value of the official receipt will be determined by the fair market value of the security by referencing to the closing market price on the date the security is transferred to the University, as per CRA guidance.

4.6 There is the potential for emerging Gift types that have aspects or characteristics that do not conform to this Policy. Under these circumstances, the Office of Advancement may recommend the establishment of specific policies for these Gifts or conduct an individual review on a case-by-case basis.

  4.6.1 The decision to accept or decline new Gift types rests with the Board of Trustees.

  4.6.2 Case-by-case decisions will not be considered precedent setting.

5. Approvals

5.1 The Vice-Principal (Advancement) is responsible for managing University fundraising activities, ensuring the highest standards of professionalism and ethics and that acceptance of Gifts is consistent with this Policy and other policies of the University.

5.2 The Office of Advancement is solely responsible for issuing official charitable receipts for Gifts received by the University.

Related Policies, Procedures, Guidelines:

Policies Superseded by this Policy: N/A

Responsible Officer (senior administrator ultimately responsible): Vice-Principal (Advancement)

Contact: Development, Office of Advancement

Date for Next Review: 2028