April 28, 2024

How to give gifts that adhere to gifts and entertainment policies

Morgan Harris
Morgan Harris

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A lot of great things can happen when you integrate gift giving into your marketing and sales strategy. However, if you or your prospective customers work in a highly regulated industry, it’s likely that there are gift and entertainment policies that can limit what you can send, how much it’s worth, and even who you can send gifts to.

Typically, high-compliance industries include (but are not limited to):

  • Pharmaceutical
  • Legal
  • Government
  • Higher education (especially state-funded schools)
  • Energy
  • Finance/Banking

It’s a good idea to review a prospect’s gift giving policy (if they have one) before you start sending them anything that could even be remotely misinterpreted as a gift/bribe. If they don’t have one, you may also want to look for any federal or state regulations about gift giving just to make sure what you want to do is above board. It’s important to note that there are both federal and state regulations, and that these may vary slightly from state to state.

The reason is that many of these industries view gift giving as a form of bribery or kickback, even if that’s not the intention. Gift giving policies in some industries can be very strict, and non-adherence to them may not only result in a rejection of the gift and the customer’s business, but could also result in heavy fines for both your firm and your prospect’s.

What is a gift and entertainment policy?

A gifts and entertainment policy is typically a corporate policy in place that defines who may give a gift to its company employees, also known as company gift policy. Especially in highly regulated industries, it typically provides guidance to company employees about what is and is not appropriate to accept as a present, award, token of appreciation, offering and advertisement.

What is a gifts and entertainment policy threshold?

Some industries, like the government, institute gifts and entertainment policy thresholds, so as to clearly define the extent of acceptable gifts from most parties. In example, gifts of $20 or less per occasion are acceptable. And government employees are to not exceed $50 in accepting gifts in a year from one source. This helps remove potential conflicts of interest and ethical concerns.

What is a no gift policy?

Some companies practice a “No Gift Policy.” This is where all employees are prohibited from exchanging gifts in any form. This includes their dealings in their dealings with third parties such as vendors, partners, stakeholders, and the general public. Similar to government policies, some organizations adopt this form of gift policy to ensure they avoid conflicts of interest as well, with an eye on maintaining ethical work and business relationships.

So what are appropriate business gifts based on different gifting policies?

So how can you still give gifts to clients and prospects when they are in high-compliance industries? There are essentially two strategies you can take, depending on the level of gift giving allowed.

Let’s take a closer look at each.

If the Prospect or Client Can Receive Gifts

Some industries have company gift policies that allow organizations to receive gifts up to a certain dollar value (often $50, but double check before sending). Some industries not only limit the value of the gift, but also the type of gift, such as alcohol.

In this case, gifting is fairly easy as there are plenty of choices available that aren’t expensive and that can still send a strong message of gratitude. Here are a few appropriate inexpensive gift recommendations that work great. They can help you with securing a meeting or with standing out from the competition:

Energy Boost Bundle

  • Heat reveal mug
  • KUJU pour over coffee
  • Handwritten notecard with suggested messaging: “Power up your business.”
  • Estimated value of gift: $25

Ease the Stress Bundle

  • Blue light glasses with case
  • 3mm Magnet building balls
  • Handwritten notecard with suggested messaging: “We do all the hard work so you don’t have to.”
  • Estimated value of gift: $40

Take Note Bundle

  • JournalBook Mela Bound (5.5 x 8.5”)
  • Farella Bronze Pen
  • Handwritten notecard with suggested messaging: “Let’s get more done.”
  • Estimated value of gift: $25

Happy Hour Bundle

  • Craftmix, Single Serving
  • Copper Mule Mug
  • Handwritten notecard with suggested messaging: “This one’s on me.”
  • Estimated value of gift: $35
  • *This is particularly a good match for organizations with a no alcohol acceptance policy, or if you are delivering to a country or state with alcohol delivery restrictions.

Tee Time Bundle

  • Pitchfix Hybrid 2.0 Divot Tool
  • MarkerMate Magnetic Ball Marker
  • Handwritten notecard with suggested messaging: “See you on the links.”
  • Estimated value of gift: $40

Expand Your View Bundle

  • Custom Viewmaster with Custom Reel
  • Scratch Off Card
  • Handwritten notecard with suggested messaging: “Let us give you a new perspective.”
  • Estimated value of gift: $35

We’ve given you a couple of ideas for messaging to include with your gift, but it’s always good to personalize your marketing to boost ROI.

Now, perhaps you’re looking more for a gift that shows your appreciation. This might be more for an existing customer who recently placed a larger order than usual. Or even a new customer who just signed onto a hefty contract. Whatever the case may be, here are a few appropriate gift ideas that can demonstrate your customer appreciation, show that you are thinking of them, or just thank them for meeting with you.

Relax & Snack Bundle

  • Scented tumbler candle
  • Sugarfina champagne bubbles cube
  • Handwritten notecard with suggested messaging: “Take a minute to unwind.”
  • Estimated value of gift: $35

For the Kiddos Bundle

  • Jigsaw puzzle
  • Coloring book and pencils
  • Handwritten notecard with suggested messaging: “Go ahead and have some fun. We’ll do all the work.”
  • Estimated value of gift: $30

Travel Bug Bundle

  • Collapsible water bottle
  • Retractable charging cord
  • Handwritten notecard with suggested messaging: “We’re going places.”
  • Estimated value of gift: $35

If the prospect can’t receive gifts (aka has a no gift-giving policy)

Just because a prospect can’t receive monetary gifts because of either government regulations or a no gift-giving policy, there are still plenty of things you can send them to keep your product or service top of mind. These include lots of direct mail options, such as:

  • Video Brochure:  A new way to send videos in a printed format, this innovative approach makes videos tactile with its 5” video screen embedded into a 5”x7” card. The video itself can be a product tour, a series of case studies and testimonials, or even a personalized message you create for each prospect.
  • Custom Printed E-book:  People who say print is dead don’t really understand the value of receiving something that’s well-produced and customized to the prospect’s needs. And thanks to digital technology, most companies can have these printed on-demand, which means they can be updated and changed on the fly without having to commit to printing up large quantities that are quickly outdated.
  • Marketing One-Pager:  Similar to an e-book, a one-pager could be a clever, self-contained mailer that highlights the best that your firm has to offer. Pro tip:  Be sure to print on both sides and take advantage of all the real estate the page offers.
  • Handwritten Note:  There’s something to be said about people who take the time to send handwritten notes. But if you’re busy (or have terrible handwriting), you might want to enlist our help with automating these. Of course, customizing your messaging is a major key to success whether you’re sending gifts or just beautiful printed materials. If you’re not sure where to start, check out these proven puns that combine clever messaging with purpose.

For more information about gift giving in highly-regulated industries, check out our other articles on gift acceptance laws for more. Or check out our Ultimate Corporate Gifting Guide for more gift giving best practices, professional gift ideas, and gifting etiquette.

Rather not deal with the headache? Request a demo to learn how our corporate gifting solutions can help you navigate all of the gift giving policies of your prospects, customers, or employees today.

Disclaimer:  The above information is not legal advice, just gift giving ideas. You are responsible for reviewing your client or prospect’s gift giving laws and policies and to meet compliance requirements when sending them a gift. Please consult with your legal counsel prior to gifting to determine how to best adhere with compliance obligations.

About the author: Morgan Harris is the Senior Manager of Send Curation & Supply Planning. She is a beach bum turned dessert gal–and loves it! Originally from Orange County, CA, she now resides in Phoenix, AZ where she is devoted to her cute golden retriever named Theo. She started at Sendoso as an Enterprise Onboarding Specialist where she was charged with many enterprise accounts–making them feel welcome, confident, and satisfied with their Sendoso experience.

Her happy customers and expertise has led her to be a keystone within Sendoso. As the head of the Send Curation team, aka Sendoso’s in-house “gift experts,” her team meets the difficult challenge of producing creativity for all gifting scenarios. Her team manages everything from supply planning, partnerships, curating our diverse gift marketplace, and seeking vendors aligned with the latest trends, charities, and values, such as being woman-owned, minority-owned, and eco-conscious, to name a few.

When she is not leading her team to create clever puns, standout dooropeners, and high-quality gift ideas, she makes time for fitness, good food, and traveling.

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