Standard for Gifts, Awards, and Other Payments


The purpose of this standard is to provide guidance on the requirements for the use of University funds to pay for gifts, awards and other payments using University funds for a valid University business purpose.


This standard applies to all situations where University funds are used.


Direct any general questions about this standard to your department’s business officer or fund administrator. If you have specific questions, please refer to the contacts for fund use guidance listed in Appendix 1 of the University’s Financial Management Guidelines.


  1. Awards and Gifts: Institutional Trust Funds, Special Funds, and Discretionary Funds may be used to purchase awards and gifts in accordance with University Policy 602.11, Gifts, Awards and Prizes as long as the spending restrictions of the fund are met. The General Fund may only be used if the awards and gifts are made through a Chancellor-approved program, University-sanctioned program, or under the North Carolina Employee Suggestion System (administered by the North Carolina Office of State Human Resources). Examples of University-sanctioned awards are the Teaching Excellence Award, state service awards, awards during the staff appreciation celebration, or award programs that have been approved by an office with University scope (such as Academic Affairs or Human Resources). Chancellor-approved award programs must have an appropriate fund source identified. In addition, State funds may be expended, not to exceed $100 per employee, for the purchase of a plaque or for the printing and framing of the certificate.
  2. Convenience Items for Employees: Discretionary funds are the only funds that may be used to purchase convenience items for employees. These are items that are used and reside in the workplace for the convenience of the employee. Examples of such items include televisions, refrigerators, microwaves, and coffeemakers. All equipment, including convenience items, must be accounted for as described in University Policy 601.15, Control and Management of University Equipment and Other Property.
  3. Gross-Up Payment: Discretionary funds are the only types of funds that may be used for this purpose. If a payment or reimbursement is not in compliance with the University’s accountable plan[1] or fringe benefit exclusions, then the amount of the payment or reimbursement will be treated as taxable income to the recipient, regardless of the type of funds used for payment. Payments to an employee’s spouse, guest, and/or children will be treated as having been made to the employee. In this situation, the department can choose to gross up the payment so that the employee’s tax liability is paid for by the department. Discretionary funds are the only types of funds that may be used for this purpose.[2]
  4. Transportation-Related Expenditures: Any funds may be used for non-employee business-related parking (e.g., validated tickets for job candidates). Only Discretionary funds may be used for the incremental cost for a reserved parking space for an employee. No funds may be used for employee commuting expenses, including to purchase parking permits for employees. For procedures related to CATS all-access transit passes, visit the Parking and Transportation Services website.
  5. Relocation and Moving Costs: Relocation and moving costs are expenses incurred by an employee for the relocation of their personal residence due to a work-related event. Discretionary funds may be used for relocation and moving costs for new employees. The General Fund, Institutional Trust Funds, and Special Funds may not be expended for this purpose unless the conditions and limitations of the North Carolina Budget Manual are met[3].
  6. Retirements and Faculty Receptions: Discretionary funds are the only types of funds that may be used for retirement and faculty receptions. A reception is a form of celebration to honor an employee. Documentation must include a copy of the reception announcement.
  7. Membership Dues, Professional Certifications, Other Payments: Per the State Budget Manual, membership dues paid from state funds should be kept to a minimum. Discretionary funds may be used to pay for an employee’s business-related membership dues or professional certification costs. If using the General Fund, Institutional Trust Funds, or Special Funds for such costs, the following additional requirements apply:
    1. The General Fund, Institutional Trust Funds, and Special Funds may only be used for business-related membership dues if the benefit of the membership is for the State and the position for which the individual is employed. The department head or their designee must review and approve all memberships to determine that the benefits accruing to the State from such memberships will exceed the costs. If a membership is in the name of an employee, the membership must terminate or be transferred to another employee when the former employee leaves the position[4].
    2. The General Fund, Institutional Trust Funds, and Special Funds may only be used to reimburse an employee for the cost of maintaining a professional license or certification if the license/certification is a condition of employment. Any fees directly associated with initially obtaining that license or certification are not reimbursable[5].
  8. Contributions to external non-profit organizations: University Policy 602.5, “Contributions to Non-Affiliated Agencies”, prohibits the use of state appropriated funds to contribute to external nonprofit organizations, and other University funds should generally not be used to make contributions to external organizations. However, discretionary funds may be considered on a case-by-case basis for contributions to non-profit organizations if all of the following criteria are met (must be approved in advance by Treasury Services):
    1. A substantiated business purpose consistent with the mission/purpose of the related University department can be demonstrated that will provide a benefit to the University as a result of the contribution;
    2. No conflict of interest (or perceived conflict) is created as a result of the contribution; and
    3. The recipient organization must be a bona fide nonprofit organization recognized by the IRS, and such a contribution does not threaten the tax exempt status of the University or its affiliated entities.

Related Resources

Revision History

  • Initially approved May 1, 2017
  • Updated May 12, 2017
  • Revised July 10, 2017
  • Revised April 29, 2019
  • Revised March 6, 2020
  • Revised April 1, 2021
  • Revised March 23, 2022

[1] UNC Charlotte’s accountable plan, as established per IRS Regulation Section 1.62-2 (c-g) & (i), requires employee requests for reimbursements to be made within 60 days after the expense is paid or incurred in order for the reimbursement to be excluded from the employee’s wages and not subject to withholding taxes. Requests for reimbursements such as those made on a Direct Pay Request (DPR) or travel reimbursement form made after the 60-day period will be included in the employee’s gross income and reported as wages or other compensation on the employee’s Form W-2.

[2] The gross-up calculation can be found on the Financial Services website:

[3] The moving expense procedures can be found on the Financial Services website:

[4] Refer to OSBM Budget Manual, Section 6.4.5, “Membership Dues.”

[5] Refer to OSBM Budget Manual, Section 6.4.6, “Academic Assistance – Tuition, License, and Certificate Fees.”

Last Updated: March 23, 2022