Understanding Corporate Funding
Our Office offers a comprehensive view of Northwestern's relationship with a company and an integrated approach to engagement. We manage across schools and units to facilitate corporate partnerships. Corporate engagement can take many forms, be it gifts, research, sponsorship or advertising. We are here to help you navigate the different funding opportunities across campus.
Gifts, Sponsorship and Advertising - What's the Difference?
Gifts and sponsorships are processed and accounted for differently than advertising revenue. Gifts and sponsorships are tax-exempt. Advertising revenue must be taxed and requires different processing and accounting. Corporate Engagement cannot assist with or offer resources for groups to solicit or process advertising revenue.
Gifts are forms of support, either cash or in-kind, that are offered with no strings attached. They cannot be taken away once given, entail no deliverables and are subject to University policy. While gifts may have only minimal reporting requirements, offering summaries of a gift’s impact can be a valuable stewarding tool.
Corporate sponsorship of units, or their respective event(s) and activities, can be categorized as gifts as long as the aforementioned criteria and following factors are met:
- An acknowledgment of a company as sponsor of a unit or its activities and event(s).
- The sponsor should not expect or receive a substantial return benefit (i.e. valued in dollars) for payment other than name acknowledgment and/or promotional value.
- Use of a sponsor’s logo or slogan (so long as they do not contain qualitative or comparative descriptions of the sponsor’s products, services, facilities or company) in connection with an exempt organization’s activities. Simple name or logo placement on websites, t-shirts, brochures, newsletters, etc. is acceptable.
- A list of the sponsor’s locations, telephone numbers or internet addresses and value-neutral descriptions on the nonprofit’s website or in connection with its activities.
- Sponsorship is not contingent on event attendance, ratings or public exposure.
Advertising is defined as messages that contain qualitative or comparative language, price information, indications of savings or value, endorsement or inducement to use a company, service or product. If your recognition of corporate sponsors constitutes advertising, the support is not countable as a gift and does not qualify for tax deduction or tax receipts.
University units may use advertising as a means of procuring funds with the understanding that it is not a gift. The University does not accept or approve external advertising to promote products, entities, images, persons, names or services that could negatively impact students.