The University of Oregon recognizes that many of its activities provide potential sources of revenue or other non-financial benefits through legitimate and worthwhile opportunities for sponsorships and other promotional activities.
But it’s also necessary to recognize that the UO is a public institution and that its reputation and image must be protected. Therefore, the University of Oregon has adopted the following policies applicable to the granting of sponsorship rights to non-university entities. Please note, university entities should be mindful of the significant value to non-university entities that results from the exposure and association with the UO that a sponsorship relationship provides.
This Policy provides guidance to schools, colleges, departments, academic or administrative units and registered student organizations (RSOs) on the sponsorship of university or RSO events, programs, publications or other activities by non-university entities.
Sponsorship of school, college, department, unit or RSO activities, programs or events by non-university entities can, when conducted in an appropriate manner, be beneficial to the sponsored school, college, department, unit or RSO, as well as to the sponsoring entity, to the university community and to the state. However, it is also necessary to recognize that the university is a public institution and that its reputation and image must be protected, and that it must not serve to unduly advance the interests of one non-university entity or organization over another. Questions pertaining to the policy, and requests for approvals or deviations from the policy should be directed to University of Oregon Sponsorship Committee.
It is generally permissible for the university, schools, colleges, departments, units, and RSOs to accept external support, or sponsorship, for events, programs, publications or other activities, provided the following:
Acknowledgment of sponsorship is not the same as paid advertising.
Sponsorship support from tobacco companies, political candidates, political parties, political campaigns, and elections is not permitted; sponsorship by alcohol companies or organizations associated with gaming is subject to additional review.
Depending on the unit or event, it may be advisable and is permissible to decline support or sponsorship from a particular company or organization.
The support, or sponsorship, may be in the form of a gift of money or a gift-in-kind of goods and/or services.
The procedures and the type of documentation and/or approvals required may vary based on the nature of the acknowledgment and/or any return benefits, the business of the sponsor (e.g., an alcohol company or distributor) and certain aspects of the arrangement (e.g., sponsor’s request to use university trademarks or for an “official” designation).
Sponsorship is further divided into:
- Qualified sponsorship that meets the IRS guidelines for “qualified sponsorship payments” and, as a result, is not subject to Unrelated Business Income Tax (“UBIT”).
- Non-qualified sponsorship that does not meet those IRS guidelines. An acknowledgment of sponsorship may not include an endorsement by the university, department, unit or RSO.
These policies apply to web-based sponsorships and acknowledgments. Links to sponsor web sites should be to the sponsor’s home web page. University and unit-specific policies regarding appropriate use of information technology resources may also apply to web sponsorships and acknowledgments.
Special guidelines apply when a department or unit uses campus facilities as part of a sponsorship. Campus facilities must be scheduled in advance.
Special guidelines apply when a department or unit uses a sponsor’s name and/or logo together with a university or RSO name and/or logo in an acknowledgment or in the marketing or promotional materials for the sponsored activity.
Sponsors may only use a university name, trademark, logo or mascot with permission from UO Brand Management.
Special policies and procedures apply in any situation where a department or unit may want to grant an “official” designation.
- Sponsorship means the provision by a non-university entity of money, goods or services to a school, college, department, unit, or RSO in support of one or more activities, events or programs. In return, the sponsor may be provided an acknowledgment of the sponsorship. Sponsorships, and sponsorship acknowledgments, are not advertising, which is governed by a separate policy, and may not include an endorsement. Sponsorships may fall into one of two categories.
- Acknowledgment is a term used to signify the recognition of sponsorship support. A typical acknowledgment of sponsorship is the placement of a sponsor’s logo, and/or certain information about a sponsor, in the promotional material for a UO event or activity being underwritten or supported by the sponsor. This might be on signage or a departmental website, or in the marketing or promotional information about an event. An acknowledgment on an institutional website may contain a link to the sponsor’s website. Acknowledgments are not advertising, which is governed by a separate policy.
- Return Benefit is any item or service provided to a sponsor in return for the sponsor’s support, or sponsorship, of a university activity, event or program.
- Endorsement shall mean any statements or depictions which can be reasonably construed to contain or imply a preference by the university, by any of its units or employees speaking or acting as representatives of the UO, or by an RSO for one non-university interest over any other.
- Qualified sponsorship means a sponsorship where the financial or other support meets the IRS guidelines for “qualified sponsorship payments.” This means that the return benefit to the sponsor is an acknowledgment of the sponsorship that contains only such information as the sponsor’s location, telephone number, internet address, value neutral descriptions of sponsor’s products or services and the sponsor’s logo, established slogan, brand or trade name. A qualified acknowledgment may not contain qualitative or comparative statements, price information or indication of savings or value. Qualified sponsorship payments are exempt from unrelated business income tax (“UBIT”).
- Non-qualified sponsorship means a sponsorship where the financial or other support does not meet the IRS guidelines for “qualified sponsorship payments.” A sponsorship may fall into this category because the acknowledgment or the return benefit(s) go beyond what is permissible to be considered a qualified sponsorship.
- Gift-in-kind is a product or service donated, in lieu of a cash gift, to a school, college, department or unit.
- Gift of money is a cash donation or pledge made directly or through the University of Oregon.
Except for the restriction on sponsorship by tobacco companies, political candidates, political organizations and all political agendas and campaigns, and the special reviews required for sponsorship by alcohol companies or organizations associated with gaming, any corporation, other organization or individual(s) that offers and does provide support or underwriting for university events or activities may be sponsors. It is also permissible to decline an offer of support or sponsorship. There may be other considerations that factor into a decision whether to accept or decline an offer of sponsorship.
The university has the right to and will refuse sponsorship from unacceptable sources, or with an unacceptable message. For example, a sponsorship is unacceptable that
- Is in conflict with university policies;
- Adversely affects the university’s reputation;
- Appears to create an endorsement by the university of a particular company, product, political candidate, or position regarding public policies;
- Is considered to contain obscene, indecent or profane material;
- Ridicules, exploits or demeans persons on the basis of their age, color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation; or
- Promotes tobacco products.
Alcohol companies or distributors
Sponsorship by alcohol companies or distributors should not be assumed to be permissible and must be submitted for review and approval prior to acceptance. When permitted, the content of any alcohol beverage sponsorship acknowledgment may not encourage underage drinking or the misuse of such beverages and must include specific warnings against abusive or unsafe use of alcohol and/or must conspicuously promote responsible use of alcohol.
If a sponsorship does not involve any return benefit other than a qualified acknowledgment and does not involve an alcohol company or distributor, a school, college, department or unit may enter into a sponsorship arrangement once it is approved.
If a sponsorship arrangement provides a sponsor with a return benefit in addition to a qualified acknowledgment, the terms of the arrangement need to be reviewed before being accepted or the qualified acknowledgment provided.
If a Sponsorship arrangement does not meet the criteria to be considered a qualified sponsorship, the terms of the arrangement(s) need to be reviewed before being accepted or any acknowledgment provided. This is to determine whether there are implications related to the nature of either the acknowledgment or the return benefits. As part of that review, a determination will be made about the nature of any written agreement that will be required.
When a sponsorship arrangement with a school, college, department or unit includes a gift-in-kind of products (not services), the school, college department or unit should prepare and submit a gift-in-kind transmittal form prior to or at the time the gift-in-kind is accepted.
Use of University Marks or “Official” Designations
If a sponsorship arrangement contemplates either the use of UO marks by the sponsor or an “official” sponsor designation, see the additional requirements in Use of UO Marks [link to: Use of UO Marks page].
Use of Campus Facilities
Campus units or RSOs seeking sponsorships for events held at campus facilities must reserve those facilities.
Sponsorship payments are exempt from Unrelated Business Income Tax (“UBIT”) when the only Return Benefit to the sponsor is a qualified acknowledgment, which is defined within the definition of qualified sponsorship.
Acknowledgments must be secondary and subordinate to the name, marks, and other representations of the university school, college, department, unit, program or event to which the sponsorship relates. For example, a banner promoting a departmental conference should prominently identify the conference and the department, with sponsor logos or other acknowledgment placed on the bottom of the banner in a smaller script. Institutional or unit-specific policies may restrict locations on institutional websites where acknowledgments may be placed.
Sponsor Use of UO Trademarks, Names, or Logos
In limited circumstances, a sponsor may be granted permission to use university trademarks, names or logos but not without permission from UO Brand Management. Sponsorship of a university or RSO activity or event itself does not automatically give the sponsor the right to use any university trademarks, names or logos.
Naming an “Official” Sponsor of a University Activity or Event
Because the use of the term “official” in connection with a sponsorship activity may constitute a prohibited endorsement, the UO will permit use of the “official” designation only under certain conditions. “Official” sponsorships are different than a standard sponsorship.
Use of the term “official” may be permitted and would not constitute a prohibited endorsement when: the “official” designation is used in connection with an established vendor or sponsor of the university, or an entity under contract to manage a university activity; the vendor’s or sponsor’s products or services are actually sold at a campus venue or used by the UO in connection with an activity or event; the “official” designation extends only to the campus unit or activity with which the business, product or service relates, and not to the university as a whole; the rationale for permitting the “official” designation, and the method for determining the value of the designation, is clear from the documentation on file to support how the business, product or service was selected. In terms of selecting the vendor or sponsor, use of a competitive solicitation process is preferred; the vendor’s or sponsor’s promotional or marketing activities in connection with the “official” designation do not indicate an endorsement of or preference by the university for the vendor’s or sponsor’s business, product or service, and any acknowledgment by the university school, college, department or unit meets the requirements of this Policy.
Other Sponsor Benefits Besides Acknowledgments
When a sponsor provides a gift-in-kind of goods or services to the university that would ordinarily be obtained through the purchasing system, providing tangible return benefits to the sponsor has the potential to be seen as circumventing purchasing requirements. If the return benefits provided to a sponsor are valued at $5,000 or less, the transaction is exempt from purchasing requirements. If the return benefits to the sponsor are valued at more than $5,000, and the value of the return benefits provided to the sponsor is 10 percent or less of the value of the goods or services provided by the sponsor, the transaction would still qualify as a sponsorship and not a purchase. If the return benefits to the sponsor are valued at more than $5,000 and exceed 10 percent of the value of the goods or services provided by the sponsor, then the purchasing rules apply to the transaction.
Unrelated Business Income
Sponsorship is not subject to UBIT if the only return benefit to a sponsor is an acknowledgment and certain insubstantial other return benefits. Providing tangible benefits to a sponsor has the potential to make the entire sponsorship payment subject to tax. The nature of the return benefits must be evaluated to determine if UBIT applies to the sponsorship. If the return benefits are sufficiently insubstantial (e.g., generally considered anything valued at less than 2 percent of the amount of the sponsorship payment), no portion of the sponsorship payment is subject to UBIT.