Gifts and Celebratory Events for Employees and Nonemployees

Policy Statement

Harvard units may occasionally spend modest amounts from appropriate funding sources to recognize employees or nonemployees under certain circumstances.

Allowable employee recognition may take the form of celebratory events or gifts for the following occasions:

  • Work-related achievement
  • Employee morale-building events
  • Sympathy upon the death or serious illness of an employee or employee’s immediate family member

Allowable nonemployee recognition must be for a legitimate Harvard business purpose and should be motivated by detached or disinterested generosity or respect, admiration, charity or like sentiment. Gifts to nonemployees may not be given in lieu of payment for services or as a quid pro quo.

Units must use prudent judgment and also follow the IRS rules outlined below. University funds may not be spent in recognition of personal events or achievements unrelated to work, such as birthdays, weddings, baby showers, housewarming, etc., or for gifts in recognition of holidays rather than work-related achievement.

Employee Gifts and Celebratory Events Policy Table of Contents

    1. Gift must be for an allowable reason 
    2. Celebratory or employee morale building events
    3. Gifts to nonemployees
    4. General information regarding funding source and object codes
    5. Gifts given to Harvard personnel from third parties.


    Gift Taxability Table (PIN required)