Purpose: To provide guidance for giveaways at meetings hosted or funded by the Foundation that are consistent with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (the “RWJF”) Guiding Principles which call on us to act as good stewards of its private resources and cultivate diversity, inclusion, and collaboration.


Background: RWJF recognizes the importance of gathering in meetings, whether in-person or virtual, to build relationships, collaborate, and advance the work of building a Culture of Health grounded in equity and the goals of those with whom we work. We seek to host and support meetings that address barriers to full participation and support a culture in which participants feel included.


Giveaways (e.g., bags, notebooks, water bottles, care packages for virtual meetings) are often used as one tool to build a sense of community and as a token of acknowledgement of the time individuals are taking to participate. However, we recognize that there are downsides in allowing RWJF funds to be used for giveaways. Some of these considerations are costs and the environmental impact of purchasing and shipping these tangible items and the trade-offs of other potential use of those funds (e.g., participant stipends, additional grants).


After weighing the competing interests and our Guiding Principles, we have made the decision to not use, or to permit the use of, RWJF funds for the purchase of giveaways.


Guidance: Foundation funds should not be used to provide RWJF-branded or other giveaways at meetings for cost, environmental, and other reasons. For purposes of this guidance, “giveaways” are defined as items that are unrelated to the purposes of the meeting (e.g., bags, notebooks, water bottles, or care packages, and similar). When RWJF is only partially sponsoring an event, RWJF funds should not be used for conference giveaways. However, we do not prohibit a grantee from using funds other than RWJF’s funds for those purposes.


Giveaways do not include items related to the purposes of the meeting (e.g., meeting materials, copy of book to be discussed at the meeting), participant stipends, or reimbursement of travel or caregiving expenses. Further, RWJF funds may be used to support activities designed to engage participants during the course of the meeting such as offering snacks/meals for communal bread-breaking, arts/cultural speakers or activities, meditation, or other similar sessions during the course of a meeting to enhance the shared experience of the participants and align with the RWJF brand and vision of building a Culture of Health.


Finally, grantees may use RWJF funds for a contribution of no more than $5,000 to a public charity that is tied to the meeting purpose. Consider letting attendees know that RWJF is not providing giveaways or care packages to meeting participants for cost, environmental, and other reasons, and instead is making a charitable contribution.


Questions about the application of this guidance should be directed to the program financial analyst for the grant or program.