Procedures for Gift, Gift Card/Certificate and Flowers

Title: Gift, Gift Card / Certificate, and Flower Procedures
Effective Date: 05-31-2008
Issuing Authority: Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Contact: For Employee Gifts/Flower Orders: Human Resources at or 507-786-3068

For general questions regarding gifts and gift cards: Nate Engle at or 507-786-3502
Last Updated: 05-09-2016

Purpose of Procedures

The College seeks to recognize individual employees in an equitable manner with respect to use of College funds while complying with relevant federal and state guidelines. These procedures are intended to cover gifts or flowers provided to employees and students. The College recognizes that certain administrative offices will be providing flowers for constituents of the College (Dean of Students for students, President/Advancement and College Relations for all other constituents), and this is handled separately from these procedures.

Who needs to know these Procedures

These procedures apply to all St. Olaf faculty, staff, and student organizations.

Procedures for Employee Gifts

St. Olaf College does not allow gifts or flowers to employees to be purchased with college funds, except as noted below. It is St. Olaf College’s practice that recognition of faculty or staff contributions should be made either through monetary means (salary increases or other Human Resource programs) or through community celebratory activities (e.g. years of service recognition).

Allowed gifts:

  • In the event of the hospitalization of an employee or death of an employee or relative covered by these procedures, the Human Resources Office will send a gift, such as a floral arrangement “…on behalf of the entire St. Olaf College Community.”
  • In the event of the birth or adoption of a child to an employee, the Human Resources Office will send an appropriate, congratulatory gift, such as a floral arrangement to the hospital or home of the employee “…on behalf of the entire St. Olaf College Community.”
  • In the event of retirement or years of service, the Human Resources Office will coordinate a community celebration.
  • To recognize an employee who is leaving the College after more than a year of service, a department has the discretion to use departmental funds for a casual food/drink gathering. Supervisors should contact the Human Resources Office for general spending guidelines.

Disallowed gifts:

  • College funds are not to be used for gifts and flowers for other purposes (weddings, showers, birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, etc.).
  • College funds are not to be used for the purchase of gift cards or certificates of any amount, as they may create a taxable event for the employee (TAM-108577-04).

Definitions and Procedures

  • The employee’s department is responsible for notifying the Human Resource Office of the event that requires acknowledgement.
  • For flowers, the Human Resource Office will place the order with a local florist, providing the information provided by the employing department.
  • For the purpose of these procedures, covered relatives include: the employee, the spouse/partner of the employee, parents (including step-parents and in-laws), children (including step-children), siblings, and the employee’s grandparents.
  • The cost of flowers or donation will be covered by the Human Resources Department.

Procedures for Student Gifts, Prizes and Awards

Gift cards/Ole$ are not allowed to be purchased with College funds and given to a student if related to student work employment services, as they may create taxable income for the recipient that would be required to be reported as supplemental payroll wages. A department has the discretion to use departmental funds for modest gifts (excluding gift cards and not to exceed $25) for student workers when deemed appropriate (e.g. department student worker Christmas or graduation gift).

A gift, prize, or award to a student or non-employee that is not related to student work employment services(e.g. student organization prizes, survey incentives, etc.), should not exceed $25 in value and should be issued as Ole$ or tangible property gifts (e.g. T-shirt, mug, St. Olaf logo items, etc.).  Ole$ are to be used for students instead of gift cards for tax tracking purposes. Contact Savannah James in the Business Office or (507) 786-3298 for Ole$ procedures. If there is an extenuating circumstance where a gift card needs to be issued as a prize or survey incentive, contact the Business Office at (507) 786-3502 to determine if a Gift and Prize Card Form is needed for tax tracking purposes.