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Coordination of Donation Appeals and Gift Acceptance Policy

  • Related Documents: Coordination of Donation Appeals and Gift Acceptance Procedure
  • Owner:  Vice-President, University Advancement
  • Approver:  Vice-President, University Advancement
  • Approval Dates:  August 1989, January 2001, January 2004, August 2007                                                                    


The purpose of this policy is to identify the framework within Ryerson University for the coordination of all donation appeals to potential donors including individuals, corporations, foundations and other non-government organizations.  This policy also identifies the types of gifts that are accepted by the University and the conditions required for issuing an official charitable tax receipt for such donations.

This policy provides a framework for a fundraising process for the University that is both coordinated and strategic to ensure that donors are respected in all their dealings with Ryerson University and that donors receive appropriate appreciation and recognition that encourages on-going financial support.


The following are the principles that shape Ryerson’s relationships with donors.  These principles confirm the commitment of the University to develop a program of the highest quality, and to continued productive partnerships with the private sector within a framework defined by the academic mission and fundamental values of the University.

1.        The University values and will protect its academic freedom, integrity, and autonomy, and does not accept gifts when a condition of such acceptance would compromise these fundamental principles.

2.        All solicitation of gifts is informed by and consistent with academic and university-wide priorities established by appropriate University processes.  Undesignated gifts will be used for such purposes as the University judges will best advance its mission and academic priorities.  Designated gifts must be used expressly for the purposes for which they are given, in so far as these purpose are consistent with the mission and academic priorities of the University.

3.        Gifts for chairs, professorships, and other academic appointments and programs must be in full accord with all relevant University policies, practices and procedures.

4.        Naming opportunities in recognition of benefactors are determined in accordance with the University policy on Benefactor Naming.

5.         The University is committed to the highest standards of donor stewardship and accountability.  This includes appropriate and timely acknowledgment and recognition of gifts.  All formal reports to donors will conform to University policies and be sent by the relevant academic office or senior University officer.

6.         The terms and conditions governing the use of donations are matters of public record, except for information that is personal or proprietary, in accordance with federal and provincial regulations regarding privacy.

7.         Where donor agreements contain provisions for advisory boards and/or selection committees, the University will create such advisory bodies with the agreement of the relevant academic unit or units.  These bodies will conduct themselves under the understandings expressed in the Academic Planning Group Policy, December 1984.  Other forms of advice from donors will respect the policies and procedures of the University.

8.         The President or a vice president (Vice President, University Advancement, Vice President, Administration and Finance, or Provost and Vice President Academic) of Ryerson University may elect to accept or decline any gift.  The University does not accept any gifts:

·         That require the University to provide any valuable consideration to the donor or anyone designated by the donor, such as employment at the University, enrollment in a University program, or a University procurement contract;

·         Whose conditions of acceptance limit or impinge on the statutory powers and responsibilities of the Board of Governors or Senate  under the Ryerson University Act (October, 1993) or the Ryerson University Foundation Act (September 23, 1994);

·         Whose conditions of acceptance violate the letter or spirit of the University’s policies on equity, freedom of expression and freedom of academic inquiry;

·         Where association with the prospective donor or acceptance of the gift would jeopardize the financial, legal or moral integrity or adversely impact upon the University’s standing and reputation in the community;

·         That contain conditions which, by explicit designation, require the exclusion of, or discriminate against, a group or class, unless such exclusion or discrimination has the effect of favouring one or more designated groups as provided for in any approved institutional plan or equity scheme;

·         Where acceptance of the gift would create an undue burden on the University’s financial resources through ongoing operating requirements or other required financial commitments;

·         Where the conditions of acceptance are inconsistent with existing University policies.

In the course of negotiations concerning formal agreements with donors, the above principles will be communicated to donors, and the policies and guidelines referred to herein will be referenced in agreements as appropriate.


The following policies apply to the coordination of donation appeals and the acceptance of charitable gifts to Ryerson University.

1.         All donation appeals must be communicated to University Advancement prior to initiating any contact with the donor or prospective donor, or with public funding agencies or organizations that require private sector funding commitments.  This reporting is necessary to ensure that all approaches to donors are strategic, coordinated and consistent with the approved goals and academic priorities of the University.  This approach also ensures: that the donor’s and the University’s interests are safeguarded; that optimal results are achieved; and that donors are provided with protection from simultaneous approaches by several members of the Ryerson community.

2.         No one may make commitments to donors on behalf of the University without due authorization and/or without first informing University Advancement.

3.         Appropriate levels of authority within the University must approve all fundraising priorities and projects before they can be included as institutional/academic fundraising objectives.  (See Procedures section: Approval Process for Fundraising Objectives.)

4.         Official charitable tax receipts for income tax purposes will only be issued to donors for those gifts that are deemed eligible in accordance with the regulations and interpreted guidelines of Canada Revenue Agency - formerly known as Revenue Canada (see Definitions and Eligibility sections).

5.         All receiptable and non-receiptable donations, whether received unsolicited, donated through a University-sponsored campaign, or other development initiative, must be processed through University Advancement.  If any donation is directed to or received by a Faculty/school/department or faculty/staff member, it must be delivered immediately to University Advancement along with supporting documentation.  All information related to the donation should be noted in writing.

6.         All eligible gifts will be acknowledged with an official charitable receipt accompanied by correspondence prepared by University Advancement.  These documents are deemed to be the official acceptance of the gift and its related terms and conditions, as well as official certification of the donation for income tax purposes.

7.         University Advancement is responsible for generating all official charitable receipts for income tax purposes.  In order to achieve accurate reporting of all charitable gift contributions to Ryerson University and its entities, and to ensure that donors are recognized for the total of all their charitable gifts, it is essential that University Advancement act as the sole conduit for all charitable gifts to Ryerson University.

8          To ensure that tax receipts are acceptable to the University, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and the donor, all gifts-in-kind must be processed through University Advancement (see Procedures section below: Processing and Accepting Gifts-in-Kind).  The Afair market value@ of the gift-in-kind items donated must be ascertained according to CRA guidelines as outlined in Appendix D: Procedures for Accepting Gifts-in-Kind.  No charitable income tax receipts for gifts-in-kind will be issued until the property is actually in the University’s possession.

9.         Any restrictions on the freedom to convert a gift-in-kind into cash must be clearly stated by the donor in writing and be acceptable to the University.  A gift-in-kind must have value and be needed by the University to support its academic mission.


This policy applies to all Ryerson representatives (normally faculty, staff, students and volunteers) who are involved in any aspects of fundraising for any department/division or faculty of the University including the identification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of prospective donors of the University.


gift is defined as a contribution of cash or property that will assist Ryerson University in fulfilling its mission.  There are two types of gifts: gifts that are eligible for an official charitable donation receipt, i.e. a donation; and gifts that are not eligible for an official charitable donation receipt, i.e. sponsorships.

donation is defined by Canada Revenue Agency as a voluntary transfer of cash or property to the University that is made without expectation of any benefit of any kind accruing to the donor or any individual or organization designated by the donor.  Donations may include: cash; assets and tangible property (real estate, artworks, jewellery); securities (bonds, stocks, annuities, insurance policies), bequests and grants.  Donations fall into the following categories: cash donations, gifts of tangible property, gifts of certified cultural property and gifts-in-kind.  A donation is eligible for an official charitable donation receipt.  Research grants, government grants and the like do not conform to Canada Revenue Agency’s definition of a donation or charitable gift for income tax purposes.

gift-in-kind is a gift of tangible, real and personal property such as computers, equipment, real estate, etc. other than monetary gifts.

sponsorship is a marketing-oriented, contracted financial alliance between Ryerson University and a corporation, foundation or individual.  Sponsorships can be beneficial alliances in which Ryerson University receives a fee or other consideration and the sponsor benefits from market exposure and/or favoured product or corporate profile.  Funds provided to the University through sponsorships are not eligible for charitable income tax receipts in accordance with Canada Revenue Agency’s Regulations and Guidelines.  A sponsorship is not a donation or a private grant.

A donor may bequeath a gift of cash or personal property (a bequest) such as marketable securities, real estate, personal library, etc. to Ryerson University through his or her will.  Ryerson may accept bequests provided the terms and conditions of the bequest support the objectives of the University.  The official income tax receipt is issued to the estate of the deceased.

A gift of a life insurance policy may also qualify as a donation.  When ownership of a life insurance policy is transferred to Ryerson and the University is designated as the registered beneficiary of the policy, the donor of that policy qualifies for a charitable tax receipt in the amount of the cash value of the paid up policy.  If the donor continues to pay the premium on the life insurance policy, those payments also qualify as a charitable gift in the year they are given and income tax receipts are issued for the annual premium paid.  If the donor makes a cash contribution to Ryerson and specifies that it be used to pay a premium on a life insurance policy, the contribution qualifies as a charitable donation.

charitable gift annuity is a gift with immediate and long-term benefits for the donor and Ryerson.  The donor’s gift of capital is used to make an outright donation to Ryerson and to purchase an annuity from a recognized commercial institution.  The donor receives potentially tax-free annual income and tax receipt based upon the outright donation and expected return of capital.  As beneficiary of the annuity, Ryerson may gain both immediate and future benefits from this type of gift.

Charitable remainder trusts can be funded with cash, securities or real estate, which are transferred to the University.  The donor retains the right to the income from the trust according to the terms and conditions set out in the trust after the donor’s death or after a specified period of years.  The donor receives a charitable tax receipt for the present value of the remainder interest


Gifts Eligible for a Charitable Donation Receipt

1.    Gifts of cash, cheques, or money orders;

2.    Gifts of marketable securities;

3.    Gifts of certified cultural property;

4.    Gifts of tangible property including art, jewellery and with certain provisions, real estate;

5.    Gifts-in-kind;

6.    Life insurance policies;

7.    Charitable gift annuities;

8.    Gifts of residual interest;

9.    Charitable remainder trusts;

10. Bequests;

11. Other gift conveyance vehicles that, from time to time, may be introduced and approved by Canada Revenue Agency.

Gifts Not Eligible for a Charitable Donation Receipt

1.      Any transaction resulting in the donor receiving valuable consideration or benefits for the donation, whether or not requested by the donor.  This category includes sponsorships (marketing-oriented, contracted financial alliances between Ryerson University and a corporation, foundation or individual) that in some cases can be mutually beneficial alliances in which Ryerson receives a fee or other consideration and the sponsor benefits from market exposure and/or favoured product or corporate profile.

2.      Donations of services or personal time for which the donor requests a receipt for the value of those services.

3.      Contributions of merchandise that are inventory or other donation, which is deductible as a business expense.  If however, the donor has taken the fair market value of the merchandise back into income revenues, a receipt may be issued.  Ryerson is not obliged to ensure the donor had added back the value into income.

4.      Most donations of used clothing, furniture, and the like, although occasional exceptions may be made for gifts in this category which have substantial value to the academic mission of the University.

5.      Discounted billings - if goods or services are sold to Ryerson at less than market value, this is considered a contract not a donation.  It is a well-established matter of law that the sale of an item below the value remains a sale, not a gift.  If a vendor/supplier wishes to make a donation to the University, the vendor/supplier must keep the gift independent of the contract/invoice.  Ryerson would then provide a charitable tax receipt in the normal fashion.

6.      Transfers from other University or Ryerson University Foundation funds.

7.      Donations of equipment (e.g. personal computers) or cash designated to buy services or equipment for personal use.

8.      Contract research projects where the University is engaged to investigate, test materials, develop new techniques, etc. where there is a benefit that accrues to the donor.  Canada Revenue Agency states: "Donations subject to general direction from the donor that the gift be used in a particular program operated by the charity are acceptable, provided that no benefit accrues to the donor, the directed gift does not benefit any person not dealing at arm’s length with the donor, and decisions regarding the utilization of the donation with a program rests with the charity."

9.      Any scholarship, award or bursary funds that are specifically designated by the donor for certain named individuals, employees of a specific corporation, etc.

10.    Payment for a membership, which conveys a material advantage to the member, i.e. Athe right to attend events, receive literature, receive services or be eligible for entitlements of any material value.@  Source: Canada Revenue Agency IT-110R3.  The right to attend meetings or receive reports of activities, for which fees are not normally charged, are not material benefits.

11.    Amounts received by loose collection where it is impossible to identify the amount contributed by a particular donor.

12.    Amounts paid for tickets to fundraising events except where the ticket price includes a clearly defined charitable portion.

13.    Amounts paid for lottery tickets.


This policy is under the jurisdiction of the Vice President, University Advancement and is administered in consultation with the President, the Vice President, Administration and Finance, and the Provost and Vice President, Academic.