You are here

How should we treat gifts to team members?

Your Legal Questions Answered

How should we treat gifts to team members?

We are a nonprofit search & rescue team. We often get donations from persons we help. One person in a group recently sent individual gift certificates to each individual on the team as a thank you. How should we treat this event?

As an opportunity to create a policy on individual gifts to team members. 

Many organizations, particularly those like nursing homes that deal with particularly vulnerable people, have a policy that prohibits employees from accepting gifts or gratuities from the patients or clients.  Development offices usually have policies that prohibit acceptance of gifts from potential donors except in unusual situations, like lunch at the donor’s home or club.  Other organizations prohibit gifts over a certain dollar value, or require that gifts to be turned over to the organization.  (We had a nursing home client with an absolute prohibition on gifts that had to tell a nurse that accepting a $1 million bequest from a resident would cost her her job.  You can guess what choice the nurse made.)

There is no absolutely right or wrong answer to the question, although most organizations don’t want their employees or volunteers to use their positions for personal advantage.  The important thing is to have a policy so that everybody knows the rules in advance and you don’t have to ask what to do when the event arises.

Monday, September 7, 2015


I have a friend whose Mother left her nursing home LPN in her will. The LPN was promptly fired. She was a single Mother who wanted to go to nursing school and in no way solicited the gift. She worked hard and was always kind and friendly and if extra services were needed, stayed late. She even bought my friend's Mother her favorite cupcakes when she was at the store.

I appreciate the issue of preying on vulnerable patients, but good care is really hard to find. This was a faith based organization. As a result of the firing, a number of donors stopped giving and have taken the institution out of their estates. EVERYONE in the home wanted to know why the nurse was fired. My friend, who continues to periodically visit her Mother's old pals, spilled the beans to anyone who was willing to listen.

My major point is that you really need to think through the affects on the entire institution.

Add new comment

Sign-up for our weekly Q&A; get a free report on electioneering