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Corporate and Foundation Engagement

Corporate and Foundation Engagement

Through its institutional partnerships with corporate and foundation entities, Harvard is able to enable mutually beneficial goals through enhancing the impact of its education- and research-driven enterprise. The Office of the Vice Provost for Research acts as the primary facilitator in assisting organizations navigate the university and identify potential campus partnerships. While these partnerships reflect a variety of funding arrangements for research and programs, three common opportunities exist through corporate gifts, corporate grants, and industry-sponsored events.

Corporate Gifts and Grants

Corporation gifts: Gifts from corporate donors are guided by the same fundamental policies and philosophies that apply to individuals and other donor types, as summarized in the University Gift Policy. The Guidelines on Gifts from Corporations highlights additional considerations for corporate gifts, with special attention to named gifts. Please note that philanthropic gifts are separate from sponsored research arrangements, which are coordinated through the Office of Sponsored Research under their policies (see below – “Gift vs. Grant”). Likewise, the following Gift Agreement Instructions provide a template for research gifts under $100K.

Gift vs. Grant: The following checklist may be used to help determine whether for-profit corporation funding of $100,000 or less is a gift or a grant. Please obtain and review all the relevant documentation associated with the funding (e.g. proposal, application, funding agreement) prior to filling out this checklist. One or more checks on the “Grant Characteristics” side means that the funding should be initially treated as a grant and routed through the relevant submitting office (Office for Sponsored Programs (OSP), Harvard Medical School Office of Research Administration (HMS ORA), or Harvard Chan School of Public Health Office of Research Administration (HSPH ORA)) for appropriate administrative review. Otherwise, the funding should be routed through Alumni Development Services (ADS). For the full Policy on Distinguishing Gifts vs. Sponsored Awards in External Funding Received by Harvard, please see the Harvard Office of Sponsored Programs website.

Foundation engagement: For all inquiries related to Foundations, please contact

Industry-sponsored Harvard events

Guidelines for Events at Harvard University Sponsored by For-Profit Entities

Revised March 2019

Philanthropic support from for-profit entities can enable important academic activities, including conferences, symposiums, and other events for which sources of funding may otherwise be difficult to obtain. We hope to enable such support while also protecting the University’s name and reputation. We ask faculty and administrators to utilize the guidelines below when organizing events on Harvard’s campus.

These guidelines are not intended to cover other projects, programs, or initiatives funded by gifts or grants from for-profit entities.

Planning and content

  • For-profit entities with significant commercial interests in the substance of an event should not influence its content.  The perception of such influence must also be avoided. The content of an event, including decisions about speakers or panelists, should be determined solely by Harvard faculty, based on academic considerations.
  • Events should not be co-branded with for-profit entities.  For example, “The Harvard-XYZ Conference on [Subject]” is not acceptable.
  • For-profit entities that sponsor academic events should not receive special “access” to Harvard students, faculty, or resources.  For example, while such an entity may want to hold an open, separate reception for students attending a conference, the entity should not be given a list of those students.
  • There should be no “trade show” element to the event, involving on-site or online marketing of the for-profit entity’s products and services.


Acknowledging sponsors

Harvard organizers of events should disclose all sponsorship by for-profit entities, at the event itself and in related materials. Acknowledgements must comply with the University’s use-of-name policies.  Specifically:

  • In materials created for the event, any Harvard name and logo should be perceptibly more conspicuous than any for-profit entity name. Such names should be positioned and scaled accordingly.  Sponsorship acknowledgements should be clearly indicated, for example within a separate acknowledgement section at the end of the event materials or on a separate page.
  • Acknowledgements of an event’s sponsorship by for-profit entities may include the entities’ logos along with their names, subject to the following guidelines:
    • The size and placement of the logo should be consistent with the standard stated above for acknowledgements generally.  In other words, logos should appear in a separate acknowledgements section and should be sized appropriately for the text of that section.
    • Harvard logos may not be positioned in conjunction with the logos or names of for-profit entities.
    • The backdrops behind speakers should not include logos of for-profit entities.
    • Logos of for-profit entities may not appear on websites.
  • The acknowledgement should not contain any content that may be construed as advertising, or as promotion of the for-profit entity. Entities’ slogans or taglines may not appear as part of the logo or acknowledgement.
  • Acknowledgements may not contain hyperlinks.


Financial arrangements

  • All gift terms and/or associated memoranda of understanding must be approved by the relevant gift office within the School or unit prior to being submitted for review and signature by Alumni and Development Services.
  • Any sponsorship by a for-profit entity which involves contracts, fees for service, or specified deliverables will be handled through the Office for Sponsored Programs.
  • The Office of the Vice Provost for Research can assist in determining which type of gift or sponsorship policy applies. Please contact


Please contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Research if you have any questions about corporate sponsorship of events:

For questions about how to acknowledge corporate sponsors, please contact your School’s use-of-name representative or the Harvard Trademark Program at

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