The GNOME Foundation Travel and Reimbursable Expense Policy

Overview

This Travel and Reimbursable Expense Policy (Policy) applies to the The GNOME Foundation (The Foundation) and has been created to memorialize the Foundation's reimbursement policies relating to travel and other business expenses incurred by Foundation staff, project members, and project volunteers while engaged in business on behalf of, or at the behest of The Foundation (Travelers).

This Policy includes an Easy Reference Guide that can be used as a template for most of the travel covered under this Policy. When in doubt, refer to the more detailed sections below.

Purpose

The Foundation must maintain effective control of business-related expenses in order to maintain its financial viability and tax exempt status. The Foundation is also accountable to our donors to ensure that we manage their contributions wisely and maximize our ability to pursue our charitable mission. As such, The Foundation expects Travelers to use good judgment and to claim reimbursement for only those expenses that are necessary and reasonable. Excessive expenses, including but not limited to luxury accommodations and services unnecessary for, or unrelated to the furtherance of The Foundation's charitable mission are not eligible for reimbursement.

Any travel expense that adheres to this Policy is considered In-Policy and does not require special approval, so long as the trip itself has been approved in writing by The Foundation Board of Directors in a regular and documented Board vote. The Board can limit allowable travel expenses to an amount less than what would otherwise be considered acceptable according to this Policy. If so, the smaller budget is the maximum allowed expense.

Easy Reference Guide

Travelers should adhere to the following guidelines to stay In-Policy.

  • Flights.
    • Book 14 days in advance.
    • Air fares within $100 of the lowest fare (using standard airfare search tools) are In-Policy. Fares > $750 domestically and > $1,650 internationally require The Foundation's pre-approval.

  • Hotels.
    • Be sure the receipt from your hotel includes the dates of your stay, not just a total.
  • Receipts. Keep and submit PDFs of the following, as applicable:
    • Your fare search (i.e., a screen shot)
    • Your plane/rail ticket (e-confirmation of purchase is sufficient)
    • Your hotel/lodging invoice
    • Visa fees receipt
  • Per Diem.
    • Remember to pro-rata the per-diem on partial days of travel.
      • Try to be frugal - per-diem rates are rather generous.
      • When attending a conference where food is included, Do The Right Thing and claim a lower per-diem.
  • Reimbursement.
    • To receive reimbursement, send hotel and flight/rail receipt, along with a list of Per Diem days and totals to zana@gnome.org. Refer to the Expense Report section below for details.

    • Your complete reimbursement request must be submitted to zana@gnome.org within 90 days of the last date of travel. Untimely requests will not be reimbursed.

Reimbursement Procedure

Note that reimbursements are only processed once per week. While we usually can turn around reimbursements in about two weeks' time, please be advised that The Foundation officially does reimbursements on a NET-30 basis, starting from the date that complete materials are received. If this is an issue, The Foundation is available to pre-purchase expensive items like airline tickets on your behalf, so that you don't need to be reimbursed.

If you seek to be reimbursed for The Foundation expenses, please send the following, in a self contained email (with attachments as necessary):

  • a brief paragraph explaining what was accomplished for The Foundation during your travel and/or with the funds being reimbursed. This can be informal; it's just for our records to confirm the travel advanced the not-for-profit mission of The Foundation.
  • A brief report listing the items to be reimbursed.
  • Full receipt(s) for everything, unless the travel policy does not require receipts (e.g., for per diem expenses).

If your receipts are in a different currency than your preferred one for reimbursement, include documentation of the rate conversion (e.g., a redacted credit card statement in your preferred currency). Otherwise, The Foundation will use the prevailing rate for the date of the expense for conversion.

Please verify that the receipts that you submit are within the attached travel policy requirements.

  • How you'd liked to be reimbursed. The four payment options, in order of The Foundation's preference, are:
  • Paypal. For this, we need (a) the email address that is registered to the Paypal account that will receive reimbursement and (b) the preferred currency. (Please verify that PayPal supports transactions in your preferred currency before choosing one.)

    • Note that sometimes PayPal charges fees. Usually we're taking funds from our PayPal balance, which means no fees appear on our side, but they may appear on yours. In our experience, USA PayPal account holders physically in the USA are not typically charged fees; but we do advise you to check PayPal's fee schedule before choosing this method.

      NOTE: Typically, when choosing PayPal as a payment opting, amounts owed in USD will be paid in USD, regardless of your preferred currency selection.

  • Issue you a check in USD from a USA bank, sent to you via post. For this option, I just need your postal address.
  • Wire the amount in your local currency to your bank account in your country. For this option, I need as much of the following information as it's possible for you to collect. While some of this information isn't always needed, the more I have, the less likely there will be problems with your wire. If a field is mandatory, it's noted in parentheses below. Mandatory fields differ by country of receipt.
    • Preferred Currency
      • (absolutely mandatory)
      SWIFT and/or BIC Code
      • (mandatory for non-USA wires)
      ACH or ABA routing number
      • (mandatory for USA wires)
      Correspondent Bank ACH and Name of that Bank
      • (This is not mandatory, but note that USA banks charge
        • fees during wire transit to direct an international wire. Since The Foundation's payment is coming from the USA, it's best if you ask your own bank what USA correspondent bank they prefer for USA wire transfers.)
      Account Number
      • (absolutely mandatory)
      Full Name of the Account Holder
      • (absolutely mandatory)
      Full Address of Account Holder Bank Name Bank Address IBAN
      • (mandatory for EU countries and Qatar)
      Tax ID of account holder
      • (mandatory for Ukraine, Colombia and Brazil;
        • In Brazil, this is your 14-digit CNPJ or 11-digit CPF)
      Phone Number of account holder
      • (mandatory for Colombia, Brazil, and the Ukraine)
      Bank Agency Code
      • (mandatory for Brazil)
      • IFSC code
        • (mandatory for India)
      "BSB" or "Bank" Code
      • (mandatory for Australia and Ukraine)
      Beneficiary INN
      • (mandatory for Russian Federation)
      Patronymic Name of Beneficiary
      • (mandatory for Russian Federation)
      VAT/VO Code of Beneficiary Bank
      • (mandatory for Russian Federation)
    • Note that if there is an intermediary bank involved in the USA, you should provide all this information for both the intermediary bank and the final bank. Note in particular that if the intermediary bank is in the USA, an ACH or ABA routing number is absolutely mandatory.
    • A check in your local currency, sent to you via post. For this option, we just need your postal address and what currency you want. Note that this is a more involved option to process and will usually take at least 30 days to issue payment. We do not recommend this method; please chose it only if you absolutely cannot receive a wire transfer for some reason.

Exceptions to the Policy

The Foundation foresees the need for periodic reasonable exceptions to this Policy. Persons working directly on behalf of The Foundation seeking an exception to the Policy must obtain written approval from The Foundation authorizing the exception.

Transportation

Overall transportation Cost

Domestic transportation costs greater than US$750 requires The Foundation approval prior to booking, even if all other Policy conditions have been met. International transportation costs greater than US$1,800 requires The Foundation approval prior to booking, even if all other Policy conditions have been met.

Advance Purchase

Tickets for travel by air or rail (excluding commuter train and subway) should be booked at least 14 days in advance, ideally longer. The cheapest flight prices for international flights are typically 2 - 3 months in advance. Any travel booked less than 14 days in advance requires written pre-authorization by The Foundation. Tickets for travel by air or rail beyond 365 days in advance also require written pre-authorization by The Foundation.

Air Travel

Class of Service

Coach and/or Economy Airfare is the only acceptable class for all flights (domestic and international) unless The Foundation provides a special exception and a valid reason (such as a need for business class due to a documented medical reason) to The Foundation for written approval. Travelers may select their airline of choice (e.g., for the purpose of collecting airline miles and rewards), provided that the resulting air fare otherwise meets the requirements of this Policy. Travelers should not book out-of-Policy trips (and thus pay a higher fare) in order to qualify for a mileage upgrade.

Low Fare

The Foundation aims to balance cost savings with time savings and convenience. Budgets for flights are set based on their travel time compared to the flight with the lowest available fare. Flights with fares that are within budget are in-Policy.

To find the lowest available fare, run a flight search that meets these criteria, and save the results:

  • The search must include fares from multiple airlines. Any widely-recognized airfare search site that lists results from multiple airlines is acceptable, including sites such as Orbitz, Kayak or Hipmunk

  • The search must cover only the dates of relevant travel. For example, if you're attending a conference that runs Monday through Friday, the search must have you arriving no earlier than Sunday, and leaving no later than Saturday.
  • Except as allowed by Policy, the search must not use filters that might exclude the least expensive fare. For example, you may filter out flights with two or more connections, since the Foundation does not consider those reasonable. However, you may not filter out specific airlines, or flights without WiFi.

Save the results of this search. A PDF printout of the first page of results from your browser is ideal. A screenshot can work too. Just make sure the output shows the search criteria and the lowest available fare. When you send your reimbursement request, attach these results.

The budget for a flight is set depending on how its cost and travel time compares to the flight with the lowest available fare. Travel time is measured from the scheduled departure time of the first flight in the itinerary to the scheduled landing time of the final flight. We use the following table to determine the budget:

If the travel time for a flight is…

the budget for that flight is…

less than three hours shorter than the flight with the lowest fare

the lowest available fare + US$100

between three and six hours shorter

the lowest available fare + US$200

between six and ten hours shorter

the lowest available fare + US$350

at least ten hours shorter

the lowest available fare + US$600

Any flight with a total cost that is within its corresponding budget is within Policy. Any flight with a cost over its budget requires written pre-authorization by Conservancy. Travelers may book their tickets on different dates or a different site as long as they used a qualifying fare search site to determine that the booked flights are within Policy.

Reasonable Flights

The Foundation asks that Travelers allow for flexibility with respect to departure times during a desired day of travel, as well as longer trips in order to reduce cost. However, The Foundation does consider flights with two or more connections as unreasonable and does not expect Travelers to consider those flight options to be reasonable.

Excess Baggage

Should a Traveler travel on an airline that charges for a single piece of checked baggage, such a baggage expense is eligible for reimbursement. Travelers are responsible for charges on any baggage beyond a single piece, unless that additional baggage is materials specifically related to the The Foundation's mission (i.e., bringing t-shirts and other promotional materials to an event).

Out-of-Policy Bookings

All air travel not adhering to the above Policies are considered Out-of-Policy and require written pre-authorization by The Foundation.

Cancellation Fees

Cancellation fees and other penalties incurred result of a change of plans are reimbursable at The Foundation's discretion. In general, The Foundation shall reimburse such fees if the Traveler can submit a valid reason for the change of plans. Acceptable reasons include The Foundation canceling or altering the trip or unexpected delays in flight connections. In instances where these fees are incurred without adequate explanation, The Foundation reserves the right to refuse to reimburse the cost of the fees.

Other Transportation

Ground Transportation

Ground transportation necessary as part of authorized trips is considered to be a reasonable expense. Public ground transportation, such as taxis, shuttles, buses and municipal transit, are generally the most cost-effective options and are the standard for eligible ground transportation reimbursements. All car rentals require pre-authorization by The Foundation. When car rentals have been pre-approved, the rental of compact cars is encouraged; mid-size vehicles are authorized when necessary (e.g., when compact-sized vehicles are not available or the number of passengers or volume of baggage makes a compact vehicle impractical).

Rail Transportation

Rail transportation as a means of travel for an authorized trip is considered to be a reasonable expense. All rail transportation must be in economy and/or coach class.

Use of Personal Vehicles

When circumstances require Travelers to utilize their personal vehicles for The Foundation purposes, they can be reimbursed at the current USA IRS rate per mile, plus any related parking expenses and toll fees. Drivers are encouraged to find the lowest cost reasonably parking area nearby their destination.

Visas

The Foundation will reimburse reasonable visa fees for standard applications. Travellers should attempt to apply for visas in plenty of time before they are required, and not rely on any priority-handling services. Where there is a requirement for a quicker visa application, pre-approval must be sought from The Foundation.

Lodging

Travelers are expected to be cost-conscious and prudent when booking lodging for approved trips, and to verify that rates are within the established per-diem rates for the geographic area of travel.

If the cost per-diem of lodging chosen by the Traveler exceeds the United States General Services Administration's Per Diem calculator's Max lodging column and/or United States Department of State's ''Foreign Per Diem Rates by Location'' calculator's Maximum Lodging Rate column for the given location (per Traveler), the Traveler must obtain written pre-approval from The Foundation before booking the hotel. If written pre-approval is not sought or is not granted, The Foundation will only reimburse up to the amount in the rate table above.

Lodging documentation submitted as part of a reimbursement request must include a copy of the hotel invoice detailing all charges (credit card receipts alone are unacceptable). In particular, since The Foundation only reimburses for room charges (plus relevant taxes and fees) for the necessary travel dates, the receipt from the hotel must clearly show the dates of stay, and separately list room charges and any food or service charges. The Foundation will not reimburse Travelers for any costs associated with an upgrade of room accommodations.

In some cases, The Foundation, may decide to book lodging on behalf of Travelers. In this case, The Foundation-booked lodging is always considered In-Policy.

Other Reimbursable Expenses

The Foundation will reimburse persons for Foundation related expenses that are incurred while traveling on approved Foundation business. Only necessary, ordinary and reasonable expenses are eligible for reimbursement, and only those categories of expenses listed in this document qualify.

Meals and Incidental Expenses

Overview

Travelers can submit for a per diem for meals and incidental expenses for every day of a trip devoted to Foundation related mission work, including the day(s) of travel itself. Maximum per diem rates for travel within the United States shall be based on the United States General Services Administration's Per Diem calculator, using the ZIP code of the travel destination. For example, a Traveler based in Palo Alto, CA heading to a conference in Atlanta, GA (with a layover in Dallas, TX each way) will use the ZIP code of the destination in Atlanta to calculate the maximum per diem for the entire trip, including days of travel.

Maximum per diem rates for locations outside of the United States shall be based on the United States Department of State's ''Foreign Per Diem Rates by Location'' calculator's Meals & Incidental Expenses (M&IE) column, using the name of a listed city closest to the travel destination. For example, a Traveler based in Palo Alto heading to a conference in London, England (with a layover in New York City) has a maximum per diem of the M&IE per diem listed London for the entire trip, including days of travel.

These per diem rates are the maximum daily rate Travelers can claim. Note that these are for full 24 hour days. On days which you are travelling (ie: at the start and end of each trip when you depart or arrive from home on that day) add 3/4 of the standard allowance amount.

If a conference has provided food, or food is provided in some other form, or the costs the Traveler incurs are lower than this rate, then the Traveler should reasonably reduce their per diem claim. In addition, The Foundation generally encourages Travelers to be conservative with per diem submissions, and consider asking for less if the full per diem amounts allowed were not used during travel.

The Foundation has the authority to set lower per diems than those generated by the calculators above. In those instances, Travelers will only be able to submit for the lower per diems.

Group Meals

For groups of Travelers on an In-Policy trip, each Traveler should pay for his/her own meals, seeing as all participants will have an opportunity to submit for separate per diems after the trip.

For clarification purposes, this Policy does not relate to planned group events that include meals and/or refreshments (e.g., a Foundation organized conference that includes lunch for all attendees). Further, events and/or The Foundation retain the right to allocate a separate budget for anticipated large group meals beyond the individual per diem limits of each Traveler, provided that they are within the event's objectives and/or The Foundation's mission. Travelers anticipating a need to cover such a large group meal should seek pre-approval from The Foundation for such expenses before the trip.

For any such group meal, The Foundation will require a written paragraph summary of the meeting, indicating what was accomplished for The Foundation's mission.

Meals For Organizational Development

Travelers may occasionally have the need to invite third parties, e.g., prospective donors, contributors, community members, etc., to meals in order to further the The Foundation's mission. The Foundation recommends that Travelers seek pre-approval from The Foundation for such meals.

For any such organizational development meal, The Foundation will require a written paragraph summary of the meeting, indicating what was accomplished for the The Foundation's mission.

Phone Call Charges Part of Per Diem

Charges for personal phone calls (e.g., made from a hotel, or via a mobile phone in international travel) are not reimbursable as an expense separate from the allocated per diem.

Currency Conversion Charges Part of Per Diem

Any fees associated with currency conversion are not reimbursable as an expense separate from the allocated per diem.

Conference Registration Fees

The Foundation will reimburse conference registration fees up to $100 per day for Travelers on approved Foundation business. For example, a $250 registration fee for a 3-day conference is In-Policy; however, a $225 registration fee for a 2-day conference is not.

Travelers seeking reimbursement for registration fees that exceed $100 per day must obtain prior approval from The Foundation.

Internet Access

Internet access/wi-fi fees charged by a hotel are reimbursable, provided that they are listed on the hotel/lodging invoice submitted for reimbursement, and the total of the access fee and lodging is less than the per diem rate. Other internet access fees (e.g., airport internet services, personal wi-fi hotspots, internet cafes) are not reimbursable except as incidental expenses to be covered by a Traveler's per-diem.

Additional Days of Travel

Travelers often seek to add extra days before or after an approved trip (e.g., the weekend before a conference). A Traveler may seek approval for the expenses associated with an extended stay prior to booking the trip, provided that the additional days are solely to enable a Traveler to conduct work within The Foundation's charitable mission or objectives, or to get a particular airfare that *reduces* the overall cost of the trip. Travelers may seek approval to book travel itineraries that include extra days for personal reasons, so long as the cost of the flight meets the other requirements of this Policy. Other expenses incurred during extra personal days beyond transportation costs are not reimbursable.

Non-reimbursable Expenses

Non-reimbursable expenses are identified throughout this policy. The following items are typically non-reimbursable expenses:

  • Partner, spouse, and/or companion travel
  • First class travel (unless medically necessary)
  • Upgrades to air travel, car rentals, or hotel rooms
  • Purchase of clothing, luggage, toiletries and other miscellaneous personal items
  • Supplemental travel or car rental insurance
  • Fines, penalties, or legal fees
  • Personal entertainment or recreational expenses beyond the allotted per diem

Travelers are permitted to pay for their own upgrades, or use bonus programs to upgrade Foundation reimbursed expenses. However, Travelers must ensure that The Foundation does not receive nor reimburse any charges for any such transaction.

Satisfaction of IRS Requirements

Reimbursed travel expenses are subject to examination by the USA Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Travelers are responsible for retaining documentary evidence that all expenses are strictly for Foundation-related purposes, not personal in nature, and therefore not includable as taxable income to the Traveler. Receipts are required for all expenses, no matter the amount.

Approvals

Travelers traveling on behalf of The Foundation must seek approvals and submit expense reports to The Foundation's Director of Operations. The Foundation staff must seek approvals and submit expense reports to The Foundation's Treasurer or to another The Foundation Board Member designated by The Foundation's Board.

Expense Reporting

Travelers seeking reimbursement must submit an expense report to the appropriate channel with the following information:

  • Name of Traveler
  • Brief description of trip and trip's purpose (e.g., August 2011 trip to XYZ conference for ABC project, served as planning committee member; Feb. '12 FOO hackfest in Portland, OR; contributed code)

  • A brief paragraph explaining what was accomplished for The Foundation during your travel.
  • Number of days traveled (with documentary evidence, e.g., conference itinerary, etc.) and associated per diem
  • List of expenses not covered by per diem (e.g., transportation, lodging) with substantiating receipts (or scans of receipts).

In the event that it is impractical to obtain a required receipt and/or if such receipt has been inadvertently destroyed or lost, the Traveler should furnish a written statement to that effect, as well as an explanation of the expenditure involved. When possible, secondary documentation (such as a redacted credit card bill) should be provided instead of the lost/destroyed receipt.

Any expense without a substantiated receipt and/or a supporting written statement will not be reimbursed.

The Foundation requests that all expense reports be submitted within two weeks of travel. Expense reports filed more than 90 days after the last day of travel (or for other reimbursable expenses, the day expenses are incurred) will not be reimbursed.

Reimbursements are paid by The Foundation on a NET-30 basis, from the date of receipt by The Foundation of the fully complete report and supporting documentation for the travel.

Consequences of Policy Violations

Failure to comply with this policy may result in the denial of, or delay in payment for, reimbursement requests.

Policy Changes

The Foundation reserves the right to change any terms of this Policy from time to time. The Policy of record shall be the Policy most recently distributed by The Foundation.

Feedback on this document

Time requested and required for reimbursement and expenses report vary. Some are two weeks request with 90 days requirement, some are 90 days request and on the parent level of this page is 1 month request. We should streamline this. -- CarlosSoriano

Foundation/TravelPolicy (last edited 2017-10-09 09:19:51 by NeilMcGovern)