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Gift Cards

Standard Operating Procedure

**UPDATE: Effective 11/1/18, we will be implementing a newer, more straightforward Gift Card Procedure. Updated Gift Card Standard Operating Procedure effective 11/1/18

View PDF of Updated Gift Card Standard Operation Procedure - Effective 11/1/18

View PDF of current Gift Card Standard Operating Procedure

Gift cards/gift certificates (referred to as gift cards) may be purchased using CSUSM Corporation funds for recognition of students, faculty, staff, or incentives for individuals who participate or volunteer in events or activities in support of University programs. The use of gift cards must comply with the mission of CSUSM Corporation and CSUSM and adhere to the CSUSM Corporation Public Relations Fund and Hospitality Policies. All gift cards purchased with sponsored program funds must follow grant guidelines (including state and federal regulations if applicable) and CSUSM Corporation purchasing policies and procedures.

The dollar value of individual gift cards cannot exceed $50 unless approved by the Executive Director. Only one gift card can be awarded to a recipient per event or activity. Gift cards can only be awarded infrequently to the same individual. If the recipient has received a total of $600 or more in multiple gift cards in a calendar year, the value will be reported as taxable income for the recipient. Non-employees will receive a 1099; for employees, it will be reported as income on their W-2.

Use of gift cards should only be considered when no other option is viable, should be infrequent, and conservative in value.

Departments should make an attempt to purchase gift cards from CSUSM Corporation partners (ex. Follett and Sodexo). Visit Commercial Services for a complete list of partners.

Campus Program and CSUSM Corporation Central Office Funds Procedure

This procedure below applies to all gift card purchases with campus program funds.  

  1. The event or activity coordinator will fill out the Gift Card Request Form
  2. This form must be filled out a minimum of ten days prior to the distribution of the cards. If the gift card amount on the request is over the $50 limit per card, CSUSM Corporation staff will request approval from the Executive Director to make the purchase and notify the requestor that the request has, or has not been approved.
  3. Once the form has been submitted, the CSUSM Corporation staff will purchase the cards on the requestor’s behalf and charge them to the chartfield provided on the form.
  4. The requestor will be notified by the CSUSM Corporation staff when the gift cards are available for pickup.
  5. Once the cards are picked up, the requestor is responsible for tracking the distribution of the cards which includes getting signatures from the gift card recipients on a gift card log.
  6. For ProCard reconciliation, the CSUSM Corporation Staff who purchased the cards will include the purchase receipt and a copy of the gift card log.

Gift Card Log: Once the gift card has been given to the recipient, the recipient is required to sign the gift card log verifying receipt of the gift card. The following information is required for each gift card:

  • Value of Card - Card Number - Name of Recipient - Employee/Student ID Number - Signature of Recipient - Date of Receipt by Recipient - Event or Purpose of Gift Card
  1. Once gift card log is complete, (i.e., all cards have been distributed) requestor must submit completed log to CSUSM Corporation.
  2. The log will remain at the CSUSM Corporation business office for audit purposes. Gift cards that are not immediately issued to recipients will be stored at the department in a locking file cabinet or other secure device. CSUSM Corporation reserves the right to periodically audit the amount of unissued cards by requesting the card log for review. The department will be responsible for the cost of any missing or unused cards.

Sponsored Projects / Grant Funds Procedure

Offering incentives to individuals for participating in research projects may be allowed with IRB approval. If the gift card amount is over the $50 limit per card, the appropriate OSP SPA must be notified by the purchaser prior to purchasing in order to obtain approval from the Executive Director. Once the request has been approved or denied, OSP Staff will notify the requestor who can then make the purchase.

All purchasers must follow the procedures stated below in Section 1 “Purchasing Gift Cards and Supporting Documentation” and Section 2 “Purchaser Responsibilities”. If the purchaser prefers NOT to make the purchase themselves, they are able to follow the Campus Program Funds Procedure stated above.

Purchasing Gift Cards and Supporting Documentation

CSUSM Corporation ProCard

Purchasers must follow all appropriate ProCard guidelines and reconciliation proceduresReview the CSUSM Corporation ProCard manual for more detailed information. Purchasers must submit the receipt for the gift cards and a distribution log if available at the time of reconciliation (see Purchaser Responsibilities, Section b).

Direct Pay Form

Purchasers must complete a Direct Pay Form if a personal card was used for the purchase and the employee is requesting a reimbursement. Purchasers must submit the receipt for the gift cards and a distribution log if available at the time of reimbursement request (see distribution log under Purchaser Responsibilities, Section b).

Purchaser Responsibilities

  1. Prior to distribution, keep gift cards in a secure location in accordance with the CSUSM Cash Handling Policy.
  2. Maintain a gift card incentive distribution log that contains the following information:
    • the quantity ordered,
    • name of each recipient (name can be participant A, B, C etc. for confidential recipients),
    • dollar value of card for each recipient, AND
    • confirmation of receipt of gift card (initials, signature, email confirmation).
  3. Report to CSUSM Corporation by emailing when an individual is paid $600 or more in a calendar year so a 1099Misc form can be issued.
  4. Retain and make available to CSUSM Corporation all related documents in accordance with CSUSM Corporation Records Retention Policy and governing laws and regulations for auditing purposes. CSUSM Corporation has the right to audit these files at any time in partnership with the CSUSM Institutional Review Board, if applicable.

Related policies, procedures, and guidance: