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3.1.6 Charitable Donations by Stanford University to Other Charitable Organizations

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Approved by the Vice President for Business Affairs and Chief Financial Officer.
Last Updated
Effective Date

This memo describes the limited circumstances when a charitable donation may be made by Stanford to an outside organization.

1. Policy Statement

Stanford University is a non-profit public charity that receives its funds from sponsors, donors,  parents/students and others in furtherance of our educational, research and patient care missions. Accordingly, provision of University funds to other US charitable institutions as donations is highly restricted. When considering support of another charitable organization, Stanford personnel must first consider whether the objective should be achieved through a contractual arrangement or other form of written understanding with the potential recipient institution, spelling out services and deliverables that align with Stanford’s purposes. Coordinate with the Office of Community Engagement to assess potential collaboration opportunities, as needed.

All approved donations from Stanford are limited to US charities with current Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501(c)(3) status. No donor funds or sponsor-restricted funds may be used in support of other charitable organizations. 

2. When Donations to Other Charitable Organizations Are Permissible

  1. A donation may only be made at the direction of the President, the Provost, the Vice President for Business Affairs and Chief Financial Officer, or the Chief External Relations Officer.
  2. A donation may be made to the charity of the family’s choice in the case of the death of an employee or a member of their immediate family, in lieu of customary flowers (Limit: $100).
  3. Upon recommendation by a donor, a donation may be made from the portion of their donor-advised fund available for such designation. Recipient charities must be vetted and approved by senior management of the Office of Development.

3. Exceptions to Policy

Exceptions to the policy are rare. The Office of Community Engagement (OCE) and the Office of Government Affairs (OGA), under the direction of the Chief External Relations Officer and in close coordination with related offices, will respond to inquiries about exceptions and guide the university’s response to external community requests.  

Following review, requests for exception must be approved by the Vice President for Business Affairs and Chief Financial Officer or the Chief External Relations Officer. Requests should state:

  1. How and over what period Stanford-provided funds would be spent by the intended recipient.
  2. What  Stanford goals would be achieved by the donation.
  3. Why such goals could not be achieved through any other form of relationship with the charity.
  4. That the recipient will provide written acknowledgement of the funding, certify that the funds were used for Stanford’s intended purpose and detail what results were achieved.
  5. A description of the intended recipient charity and proof of its tax-exempt status.

The Offices of the Vice President for Business Affairs and Chief Financial Officer and the Chief External Relations Officer will annually create a list of such donations for each fiscal year, including the name, address, Federal Employer Identification Number and Section of the Internal Revenue Code under which the organization is granted tax-exemption (typically IRC Section 501 (c)(3)), and the amount of cash or extent of property being donated for any recipient of more than $5,000 from the university within that year. A copy of this list is to be forwarded to the Tax Department within Financial Management Services to include this information on Stanford’s annual Form 990 filing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).