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Policy 4010 – Donations

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines for the review, acceptance, and refusal of donations.

Policy Document

I. Policy Value Statement

The Board of Education of Howard County is committed to an equitable and quality education and comparability of programs for all students. The Board welcomes and encourages donations from individuals, organizations, and corporations that enhance the educational or extracurricular experiences of students. The Board of Education recognizes, accepts, and appreciates the sovereignty of individuals, organizations, and corporations and their ability to conduct donations and donation campaigns independently. The Board also recognizes its need to ensure the appropriateness of the donations accepted. Therefore, the acceptance of donations, including donations from Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs), Parent Teacher Student Associations (PTSAs), Boosters, and other outside entities, must include a review of items to ensure their safety and usability by the school system. Accepted donations will be utilized in a manner that is consistent with the mission and vision of the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS).

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines for the review, acceptance, and refusal of donations.

III. Standards

  1. All accepted donations become the property of the Board of Education of Howard County.

  2. All donations will be used to supplement rather than supplant HCPSS educational programs.

  3. Donations and donation campaigns that have an estimated value of $500 or more and/or constitute an improvement to real property, will be presented to the Board for acceptance by formal action. Donations that are automobiles are excluded from the requirements of this standard.

  4. Donations and donation campaigns with a value of less than $500 do not require Board approval under the provisions of this policy. These donations must be presented to a school principal or department head for acceptance and approval, provided the donation meets all other provisions of this policy.

  5. If the donation is a fixed asset, it will be processed in accordance with Policy 4040 Fixed Assets.

  6. Donations submitted for acceptance must first be reviewed, inspected, and/or tested by HCPSS employees as appropriate. Certain donated items are required to meet specific industry certification. In addition, HCPSS employees may require that a donation be certified by an external source as meeting industry and HCPSS standards.

  7. Any donation constituting an improvement to real property must comply with Policy 6060 Community Improvements to School Sites or School Facilities.

  8. The provisions of this policy do not apply to gifts to individuals, which are addressed in Policy 2070 Ethics.

  9. Use of a crowdfunding platform or donation campaign by HCPSS requires pre-approval from the principal for the purpose, content, and approved vendor platform.

  10. Funds received through donation campaigns that exceed or fail to meet targets, will be used for other school educational needs. The potential needs will be detailed at the beginning of all campaigns.

  11. Donations and donation campaigns managed by employees, schools, and school-sponsored organizations must possess the following to be accepted:

    1. Have a purpose consistent with the mission and vision of the HCPSS.

    2. Impose no undesirable, unacceptable, or hidden costs in terms of resources (employee time, maintenance, budget, materials, etc.) to the school system.

    3. Place no unacceptable restrictions on educational or extracurricular programs or the school system.

    4. Not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, any business or product.

    5. Not begin, continue or reinstate a program which the Board is unwilling or unable to consider funding when the donated funds are exhausted.

    6. Meet all applicable federal, state, local, and school system regulations/guidelines associated with its construction or use.

    7. Meet current safety and security standards.

    8. Not be advertising. However, sponsorship of an activity is acceptable and recognition of sponsorship is permissible.

  12. Any individual or organization that presents donations from funds raised in a manner deemed incompatible with the mission of the school system or from donors that promote philosophies incompatible with the mission of the school system may be declined.

  13. A written letter of appreciation should be sent to the originators of accepted donations from the school or department receiving the donation.

IV. Responsibilities

  1. School principals and/or department heads will ensure that donations meet the criteria for acceptance in compliance with this policy.

  2. Each school principal and/or department head serves as the fiduciary agent for his/her school/department and will ensure that all donations are accounted for and that donated funds and items are used for legitimate education-related purposes.

  3. The Superintendent/designee will ensure that the donations he or she approves meet the criteria for acceptance in compliance with this policy.

  4. Each school principal or department head will submit to the Finance Office an annual report of all donations received during the year.

  5. The Superintendent/designee will prepare a monthly report of donations requiring Board acceptance in accordance with Policy 4010 Donations. This report will contain, by school, a list of donated items and their donor designation or planned use.

  6. The Superintendent/designee will prepare an annual donations report in accordance with Policy 4010 Donations and Policy 4020 Fundraising by Schools and School-Sponsored Organizations. This report will contain, by school or program, a summary of donations.

V. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent is authorized to develop all necessary and appropriate procedures to implement and monitor compliance with this policy.

VI. Definitions

Within the context of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. Advertising – The display of a message, logo, website, phone number, address, or photograph of an individual, service, or product on school property or in an official school communication in return for a fee.

  2. Crowdfunding Platform – The practice of funding a project or venture by soliciting donations, typically via the internet and using social media. A crowdfunding platform is a type of donation campaign.

  3. Donations – Equipment, materials, money, or property given to a school or to the school system for use in or in conjunction with educational or extracurricular programs.

  4. Donation Campaign – Organized outreach by a school-sponsored organization, school, or employee(s) to solicit donations either online, by mail, or in person.

  5. Educational Program – A grouping of operations or activities which is identifiable as a distinct entity with specific goals and objectives for budgetary, operational, and managerial purposes (e.g., music program, gifted and talented program, science program, etc.).

  6. Extracurricular Activities – Activities available to students beyond the regular school day which are voluntary, and not required for the satisfactory completion of a particular class.

  7. Fiduciary Agent – The person responsible for overseeing school activity funds in accordance with HCPSS policies and procedures.

  8. Fixed Assets – A financial resource that meets all of the following criteria:

    1. Is tangible in nature.

    2. Has an extended useful life, at least one year.

    3. Is not a repair part or supply item.

    4. Has a value of $5000 or more.

  9. Fundraising – This policy varies from Policy 4020 Fundraising by Schools and School-Sponsored Organizations in that a donation is given freely whereas fundraising efforts involve an exchange, typically monetary for goods or services.

  10. Improvement to Real Property – Materials and/or labor used to alter, modify or renovate the physical appearance or structure of a school site or facility.

  11. School-Sponsored Organization – Any organization (e.g., athletic teams, student groups) for which the school provides supervision. PTA/PTSA , Booster groups, and other outside entities are not school-sponsored organizations.

  12. Sponsorship – The act of supporting an event, activity, person, or organization financially or through the provision of products or services.

VII. References

  • Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, Sections 4-108, 4-114, and 4-118

C. Relevant Data Sources

  • Monthly Donations Report

  • Annual Fund Raising and Donations Report

D. Other

VIII. History

ADOPTED: June 24, 1982

REVIEWED: July 1, 2012


  • June 12, 2014

  • February 11, 2021


  • August 24, 1989

  • November 26, 2002

  • January 27, 2005

  • June 11, 2020

EFFECTIVE: February 11, 2021

Policy History Key

  • Adopted-Original date the Board took action to approve a policy
  • Reviewed-The date the status of a policy was assessed by the Superintendent’s Standing Policy Group
  • Modified-The date the Board took action to alter a policy that based on the recommendation of the Superintendent/designee did not require a comprehensive examination
  • Revised-The date the Board took action on a that policy based on the recommendation of the Superintendent/designee needed a comprehensive examination
  • Effective-The date a policy is implemented throughout the HCPSS, typically July 1 following Board action.