Keeping It Ethical is our weekly blog series highlighting the 33 Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice. Throughout the series, we hope to highlight the importance of each Principle and the helpful resources associated with it and learn more from you about how you’ve incorporated these Principles into your charitable organization.
Is it me, or are the Principles getting shorter and shorter the closer we get to the end of our blog series?
Anyway, let’s get to it. Without further delay, the “official” and “straight, no chaser” explanations for Principle 26.
Official explanation: A charitable organization should neither pay for nor reimburse travel expenditures for spouses, dependents or others who are accompanying someone conducting business for the organization unless they, too, are conducting such business.
“Straight, no chaser” explanation: If you’re a nonprofit employee, and your relative, spouse, or friend wants to go with you on business travel (and isn’t employed by or working on behalf of your nonprofit) – they can go right ahead and enjoy the trip. But, their enjoyment won’t be on the organization’s dime. They’ve got to foot the entire bill.
Of course, there are always “special circumstances.” For instance, if for some reason an organization decides it’s OK to cover expenses for a relative or acquaintance accompanying an employee on business travel, the reimbursement payment must be treated as compensation to the employee (not the relative or acquaintance). And sometimes the expense is so trivial or minor (officially called “de minimis”), it may not be necessary to apply the principle, like meal costs for non-employee guests at organization functions (but be sure to check and confirm this first).
And that’s pretty much it! If you’d like to check out additional resources on expense reimbursement, here are a few to peruse:
- US Nonprofits: Best Practices for Expense Reimbursement, MissionBox
- Nonprofit Travel and Expense Policy Best Practices, Cook & Company
- Payment and Reimbursement Disclosures, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits