2.5 Donations and Gifts

A donation is a gift of equipment or tangible property to the University without an expectation by the Donor of anything in return. A donation may be directed for use by a particular department, research program, or PI; however Stanford University is the owner of all donations, without exception. Donations are not the property of faculty, staff or students, even if they may have been the primary contact or delivery point for the donation and the designated end user. Department staff, PIs, the Department Property Administrator (DPA), the PMO and the Office of Development (OOD) all must work together to accurately and completely document and report equipment gifts received by the University.


Questions about this policy can be answered by:

Dunn, Stan

Associate Director

Property Management Office

(650) 725-0081

To report a broken link or send comments/suggestions about property management content, send email to:


1. Donations—Use and Restrictions

Stanford must retain all corporate and private donations of equipment for at least 3 years from date donated to the University unless the donor authorizes otherwise in writing. During the retention period, donations may not be transferred in exchange for money, other property, or services.

If the item is disposed of prior to the three year limit, both the donor and the IRS may need to be notified. Exceptions to the three year limitation are supplies or materials that have a useful life of less than one year. For more detailed interpretation of these regulations, please contact your University Property Administrator (UPA).

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2. Donations Intended for Immediate Sale

Donations of property intended for immediate sale must be processed expediently.  As soon as possible after receipt of the donated equipment by the department, the DPA should contact Surplus Property Sales (SPS) to coordinate the sale.  The sale should occur within a reasonable time frame after receipt of the item by the department. Donations intended for sale are handled on a case-by-case basis. For guidance, please contact your UPA or OOD if your department is receiving this type of donation.

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3. Non-Capital Asset Donations

Donated items of equipment that are valued less than $5,000 (non-capital asset donations) do not require recording in the Sunflower (SFA) property management database. It is required, however, that the DPA notifies the PMO as soon as possible. Copies of all documentation must be submitted to PMO so the donation can be properly accounted for by PMO and reported to the OOD and to the Controller’s Office for IRS purposes.

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4. Donation Documentation

Per Administrative Guide Memo 4.2.3 – Records of Donated Equipment, donations of property having a fair market value of $5,000 or greater must be recorded in the SFA property management database by the DPA. For IRS purposes, the PMO must be notified of all donations of equipment, regardless of value. Timeliness in notification is critical to ensure that all applicable regulations are adhered to and correctly documented. For complex donation transactions, involving the PMO at the negotiation stage is recommended.

The following documentation is generally required for donations of equipment or other tangible property. Find the Donated Equipment Transmittal Form below in the Documents tab in Related Items.

  • letter of intent to donate and/or donation agreement from donor
  • itemized list of the donated items, with complete descriptions
  • shipping and receiving documents; e.g. packing list, if applicable
  • established value (new equipment – the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, used equipment – estimated fair market value; from donor or as determined by PMO or both)
  • any additional documentation regarding the donation, if any

Copies of the above documentation should be submitted to your UPA.

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5. Equipment Donation—Operational Procedure

The department receiving the donation shall generate a zero dollar purchase order in the  iProcurement system, using the following guidelines:

  • Create a one dollar ($1.00) Standard.Capital Equipment category requisition. Use the donor as the vendor, individually list the items being donated and use a gift account (award range GAAAA-JZZZZ) with the expenditure type 53125 (SU EQUIP GIFTS).
  • Check the Contract box on the requisition to ensure that the requisition goes to a buyer.
  • A receiving event in iProcurement is required. This will trigger the information to flow into the PO Interface of the SFA property management database to be used in the creation of the property record(s).
  • Create records in the SFA property management database for those donated items with a fair market value of $5,000 or greater. The PMO will ensure Accounts Payable (AP) creates an invoice for property donations valued at $5,000 or greater, and financially reconcile the value in the Oracle Fixed Assets (FA) system.

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6. Gift Acknowledgement

Gift Processing in the OOD will prepare and send an official university gift receipt for gifts of equipment and other tangible personal property, including gifts valued at less than $5,000. Such receipts should not be generated by local departments. 

Thank you notes or similar acknowledgements from departments or individuals are appropriate, but official University acknowledgement of receipt of a donation should only be generated by Gift Processing. These receipts confirm delivery of described items and the date the gift was received, but do not include the value of the item(s). IRS rules require donors, not the university, establish the value of items donated for their tax-related purposes. Receipts may be requested by contacting OOD. If Stanford obtains an appraisal, it is to be used internally only. See Administrative Guide Memo 4.2.2.

Some donors may request completion of an IRS form 8283 (Non-Cash Charitable Contributions). If so, the form should be forwarded to your UPA. Per Administrative Guide 42.2, the form can only be signed by the University Accounting Officer or the authorized designee in the PMO. Departments are not authorized to sign the IRS form 8283 on behalf of the University.

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7. Federal Agency or Other Sponsor Furnished Equipment

Equipment or other property may be provided to Stanford for specific use on a sponsored project.  Ownership (title) remains with the sponsor unless authorized in writing by an authorized Sponsor representative.

Sponsor-furnished property of any value must be identified and approved within the grant, contract, or other agreement. The documentation and process of these transactions are often unique and complex. The PMO should be included in the early planning stages when sponsor-furnished equipment is being considered. 

Upon receipt, the DPA must be notified to ensure the tagging and recording of the asset is completed in a timely manner. The PMO must subsequently be notified to link the asset record to the appropriate agreement for accountability and reporting purposes.

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