University of Washington Policy Directory

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*Formerly part of the University Handbook
Presidential Orders


Executive Order


No. 15



University of Washington Sponsorship Policy



1.  Statement of Purpose

This policy is designed to establish processes and provide guidance to University of Washington campuses, schools, colleges, departments, academic and administrative units, student government, and other University organizations that engage in sponsorship recognition, including designation as a sponsor, trademark rights, events, programs, media and communications, or other activities. This policy does not pertain to gifts through University Advancement. This policy shall guide sponsorship throughout the University, regardless of the financial value of the sponsorship.

Sponsorship will benefit the University community and the state of Washington when conducted in a manner consistent with the University's mission, values, message, and curriculum. As a non-profit public institution, the protection of the reputation, assets, and image of the University is imperative. Additionally, sponsors gain significant value from the exposure and association with the University through a sponsorship relationship, requiring that the University be compensated appropriately.

2.  Responsibility

The University Sponsorship Office (Sponsorship Office) is authorized to administer this policy. Policy questions and requests for approval or policy deviations should be directed to that Office.

The Sponsorship Office, reporting to the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, is responsible for overseeing the planning and execution of University-wide sponsorships and working collaboratively with other University units to provide a resource for sponsorship activities, managing the solicitation of campus-wide sponsorships, maintaining an asset inventory, and pricing and valuation of University assets and benefits.

A Sponsorship Advisory Committee shall be appointed by the University President and include representatives nominated by the Faculty Senate Chair and by the Presidents of ASUW, GPSS, and the Professional Staff Organization. The Sponsorship Advisory Committee shall advise on issues related to sponsorship, communicate broadly back to University units, and approve and monitor sponsorship policy. The Chief Marketing and Communications Officer may also appoint one or more specific work groups or task forces to provide advice on matters pertaining to particular sponsorship opportunities.

3.  Definitions

  A. Acknowledgment is a term used to signify the recognition of sponsorship support. Typical acknowledgment may include logo placement and/or sponsor information in the materials associated with a University event or activity being supported by the sponsor.

  B. Advertising is a paid service purchased by an entity (see Executive Order No. 40).

  C. Asset is a term used to describe the tangible items, programs, services, or activities owned by the University that provide a benefit to sponsors. These include, but are not limited to, marks, logos, signage, websites, materials related to activities supported by the sponsor, venues, media, events, programs, tickets, hospitality opportunities, and merchandise.

  D. Benefits are any item or service provided to a sponsor in return for the sponsorship of a University activity, event, or program. Examples may include, but are not limited to, acknowledgment, event tickets, food and beverages, merchandise, or access to University services (i.e. meeting rooms, job boards, etc.).

  E. Gifts are the voluntary provision of external support without any requirement of economic or other tangible benefit in return. Gifts may be made by individuals as well as by private organizations, and they may be designated for a specific purpose or left unrestricted by the donor. This includes underwriting gift support regarding events, radio, and television.

  F. In-Kind or Value In-Kind (VIK) is a product or service provided by a sponsor in lieu of cash to a campus, school, college, department, unit, or student organization as part of a sponsorship agreement.

  G. Licensing is a contractual agreement that allows the use of University marks, images, songs, and words for approved applications in exchange for a royalty payment to the University.

  H. Non-Qualified Sponsorship is a sponsorship where the financial, or other support, does not meet IRS guidelines for qualified sponsorship payments and would not be exempt from Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT). For detailed information on UBIT, contact the University's Tax Office.

  I. Qualified Sponsorship is a sponsorship where the financial, or other support, meets the IRS guidelines for qualified sponsorship payments. Qualified sponsorship payments are exempt from Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT). For detailed information on UBIT, contact the University's Tax Office.

  J. Research Grants and Contracts fund "sponsored projects," which are any projects receiving external support (including research, scholarly work, training, workshops, and services), that have defined performance requirements. The following conditions may apply: delivery of specific goods, services, or other deliverables by the University; performance milestones; transfer of intellectual property, ownership, or related rights; insurance, indemnification, or warranty; restrictions on publication of research results; or audit requirements.

  K. Sponsorship is a relationship with an entity where that entity provides money, goods and/or services to the University through a campus, school, college, department, unit, or student organization, and in return, the entity receives acknowledgment of the sponsorship via television or radio broadcasts, signage, tickets, programs, other print materials, or the Internet. The business entity may also receive other benefits. Sponsorships do not involve messages endorsing or comparing products or messages that relate to the quality of products. Sponsorships differ from corporate gift support generated by faculty and University Advancement staff, which is generally provided without expectation of tangible benefit.

  L. University Advancement engages stakeholders in meaningful interactions that foster pride, advocacy, and private support for the University. University Advancement staff members work with internal constituents, including deans, faculty, and staff, and external constituents—philanthropic individuals as well as private gift- and grant-making organizations—to cultivate resources that advance the mission of the University.

4.  Key Policy Provisions

  A. University-Wide Sponsorships

The University President may designate select sponsorship categories as exclusive University-wide categories, allowing for exclusive relationships across all areas of the University, including the Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma campuses, Intercollegiate Athletics, and UW Medicine (pending agreements with affiliate entities).

Individual University units may petition the Sponsorship Office to "opt out" of participating in a specific category or program, with a final decision to be made by the University President. Regardless of participation, no campus, school, college, department, academic or administrative unit, or student government or organization may enter into their own sponsorship agreement in a category once it has been declared a University-wide category. Sponsorship revenue will be distributed according to a specific distribution model approved by the Office of the Provost.

Units may enter into sponsorships for singular activities or events and be bound by this policy, as long as the sponsorship is not a designated University-wide category. Intercollegiate Athletics may continue to develop sponsorships for their assets and programs in non-University-wide designated categories and apply their policies and guidelines.

The University of Washington Alumni Association (UWAA) and other University affiliate organizations can participate by opting into a sponsorship agreement and agreeing to be bound by this policy.

  B. Choice of Sponsors

Potential sponsors may be evaluated on a range of criteria, which may include the company's ethic, environmental, and corporate social responsibility, its local, national, and global position, its brand reputation and values, its public perception of such, its historic performance upholding these standards, and its history with the University. The University reserves the right to select or reject sponsors based on their alignment with the University's mission and core values. The Sponsorship Office, in consultation with the Sponsorship Advisory Committee, will review and research potential sponsors for appropriate alignment. Final decisions will be made by the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer.

  C. Prohibited Sponsors

Sponsorships involving controlled substances, tobacco brands, weapons manufacturers, and adult entertainment companies are not permitted.

  D. Limited Sponsors

    1) AlcoholSponsorship by alcohol companies is subject to the following limitations:
  • Alcohol sponsorships may not be directed at University students who are under 21 years of age;

  • Sponsorships may be for specific events and activities, but not campus-wide;

  • University marks may not appear on alcoholic products and/or packaging; and

  • Alcohol sponsorships may be subject to additional review by the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer (see also APS 47.5, "Acceptance of Gifts or Contributions from Representatives of the Alcoholic Beverage Industry").
    2) Gaming or GamblingSponsorship by organizations associated with gaming or gambling is subject to additional review by the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer.

  E. University Guidelines and Policies
  F. Sponsorship Limitations
  • The University President or Chief Marketing and Communications Officer must retain the right to dissolve sponsorship relationships if a sponsor does not meet University standards.

  • Only the Sponsorship Office may grant University-wide sponsorships. The Office may act as a University-wide representative or in conjunction with a University campus, school, college, department, organization, or unit.

  • A sponsorship arrangement with the University does not imply affiliation or endorsement.

  • Sponsorship acknowledgment is not permissible in University recruiting materials, course catalogs, and legal documents.

  • Exclusivity in any category shall not be granted to sponsors by schools, colleges, departments, academic and administrative units, and student government and organizations, except with explicit written approval by the Sponsorship Office.

  • The Sponsorship Office will not prepare or sign sponsorship agreements for student government and organizations. Student government and organizations must abide by this policy and should consult the Student Activities Office (SAO) Policy Guide or contact 206-543-2380 or sao@uw.edu for guidance.

  • The provisions in this policy relating to prohibited sponsorships and use of University marks or images apply to all University entities and are subject to additional review by the Sponsorship Office. This includes, but is not limited to, the Bothell, Seattle, and Tacoma campuses, student government and organizations, Intercollegiate Athletics, and UW Medicine.

  G. Specific Types of Sponsorships

    1) Cash and In-kind—Cash or in-kind goods and services are permissible as benefits to be provided to the University by a sponsor.

    2) Purchases of Goods and Services—Sponsorships involving the purchase of goods and services generally require a competitive RFP process—the Procurement Department must be consulted when the purchase of goods and/or services is involved. Furthermore, all goods purchased bearing University marks must be purchased from an approved UW licensee (see the University's Procurement Guide).

    3) Sales—Sales activity by sponsors on campus may be permitted under the following conditions:
  • The property or facility is available and not being used for a University purpose or program and the proposed use and/or activity has been reviewed by the appropriate Use of University Facilities Committee or other University departments or committees.

  • Appropriate contract agreements have been developed between the University and the sponsor, which may include a lease agreement or license as necessary.

  • Should the duration of use and/or activity be long term (more than 30 days), a lease agreement may be required.

    4) Use of Campus Facilities—Campus units or student governments and organizations seeking sponsorships for events held at campus facilities must follow the Reservation Guidelines for University Events set forth by the Office of the Registrar, division of Student Life, and the Use of University Facilities Committees (per Chapter 478-136 WAC).

    5) Sponsor Use of University Trademarks, Names, or Logos—In limited circumstances, a sponsor may be granted permission to use University trademarks ("marks"), names, or logos with the understanding that use must be consistent with University policies for usage of such assets. Sponsorship itself does not automatically grant the sponsor the right to use these University assets.

    6) Signage—All signage and signage placement must be approved in advance by the Sponsorship Office and the Grounds Management unit, and must be appropriate to the University environment. Where appropriate, approval by Intercollegiate Athletics or other University campus, school, college, department, organization, or unit may be required. No permanent sponsor signage may be placed on buildings, in Red Square, or in residence halls.

5.  Sponsorship Designations

University-wide sponsorship arrangements managed through the Sponsorship Office will be classified under various designated levels. Only the Sponsorship Office can grant official University-wide designations. Additional designations may be created and are subject to review and approval by the Sponsorship Office. Units may enter into sponsorships for a singular activity or event unless there is an existing sponsorship with a University-wide designation or the category has been identified as an exclusive University-wide category. Current exclusive University-wide sponsorship categories are listed on the Sponsorship Office website.

Schools, colleges, departments, academic and administrative units, and student government and organizations are encouraged to connect with the Sponsorship Office regarding available sponsorship opportunities.

November 12, 2013.


For related information, see:

  • Board of Regents Governance, Regent Policy No. 6, "Facilities and Spaces Naming Policy"
  • Chapter 478-136 WAC, "Use of University of Washington Facilities"
  • Executive Order No. 40, "Advertising by University Departments"
  • Administrative Policy Statement APS 47.5, "Acceptance of Gifts or Contributions from Representatives of the Alcoholic Beverage Industry"