Alumni Volunteers’ Travel Expenses Guide

Travel Reimbursement Policy

General Travel Policy: The basic rationale underlying all College-funded volunteer travel is the College seeks to incur the lowest practical and reasonable expenses while allowing volunteers to enjoy efficient, timely, and convenient travel arrangements. To allow the College and its volunteers to be effective stewards of the College’s limited resources, every effort should be made to make volunteer travel arrangements that keep expenses to a minimum while providing a reasonable level of comfort and convenience for the traveler. The safety of the traveler is of utmost importance when travel arrangements are being considered.

Quick Reference Guide: Please use our quick reference guide to find quick answers to your expense eligibility questions. If you have in depth questions around a specific expenses including dollar limits and how to request reimbursement, please refer to the information in the following sections.

Travel Reimbursement Procedures

Completion and Submission

The traveler must file their reimbursement paperwork with the Office of Development and Alumni Relations within 30 days of trip completion. To submit your paperwork, send it via email or mail to your designated DAR staff member.

Documentation Requirements

An original, itemized receipt for any expense is required to be submitted with the approved reimbursement form. Photocopies of receipts will only be accepted with an explanation of why the original is unavailable. Receipts, in order to be adequate, must show the amount, date, place and essential character of the expense. Credit card statements or record of charge slips accompanying credit card statements are not acceptable in lieu of original itemized receipts.

Reimbursable Expenses

Commercial Airfare:

  • Domestic airline tickets which are purchased at least three weeks in advance at the economy class rate will be reimbursed up to $400.00 unless otherwise arranged with the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.
  • International airline tickets which are purchased at least three weeks in advance at the economy class rate will be reimbursed up to $1,000.00 unless otherwise arranged with the Office of Development and Alumni Relations. Reimbursement will be provided based on the appropriate currency exchange rate on the date the ticket was purchased according to the convertor tool found here:
  • Reimbursement will not be made for flight cancellation insurance, additional life insurance purchased or program miles exchanged for travel tickets.

Personal Automobile:

  • Reimbursement will be made to the traveler using the standard mileage rate found on the College accounts payable web page.
  • The mileage rate includes all expenses incurred by use of the privately owned automobile when traveling on official College business including, but not limited to, gasoline, insurance, and maintenance.
  • Additional reimbursement will be made for tolls and parking fees incurred.
  • Mileage reimbursement will be paid out at a maximum of $400.00 unless otherwise arranged with the Office of Development and Alumni Relations. Please note this reimbursement will only be provided to the vehicle’s driver and not to passengers who carpool.

Rental Cars: Rental cars picked up at the Des Moines or Cedar Rapids airports, as well as driven to Grinnell from outside of the state of Iowa are eligible for reimbursement. In the case of a rental car, gasoline can be considered a reimbursable expense with receipts.

Miscellaneous Travel Expenses: The following is a list of miscellaneous travel expenses which are reimbursable according to College policy:

  • Baggage Check Fees (1 bag per traveler)
  • Parking fees for personal vehicle at your home airport
  • Personal automobile mileage to/from your home airport
  • Ferry/Taxi/Subway/Train Fares to/from your home airport

Non-Reimbursable Expenses (commonly asked):

  • Tips to baggage handlers or others unless documented on receipt
  • Meals during transit to/from Grinnell College or during your stay in Grinnell
  • Hotel accommodations during transit to/from Grinnell College
  • Overweight or surplus baggage fees
  • Special wi-fi or cell phone access during travel

In-Kind Travel Gifts and Tax Deduction Options

Below are expense reimbursement clarification items for volunteer events that will help you maximize your contributions to the College and in the determination of tax deductibility.

General Policy:  Volunteers are encouraged to donate travel expenses as a gift in-kind to Grinnell College as part of their philanthropic planning. All in-kind travel gifts will count towards your annual giving levels and recognition.  Travel expenses which are donated are eligible to be counted as itemized tax deductions if a volunteer’s annual charitable contributions are substantial enough to warrant such itemization. A tax professional can help you to determine your eligibility in this regard. Please note that travel expenses which are reimbursed (partial or full) cannot be claimed as tax deductions.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding In-Kind Travel Gifts

Volunteer travel expenses must be considered on an individual basis. The following outlines common questions regarding the benefits of various travel options:

Public transport or drive? If applicable, you should weigh the costs of public transport versus driving your personal car or a rental car.  Car rental expenses (including gas) from your home outside Iowa to/from Grinnell are reimbursable from the College. 

If you choose to drive your own car, you can go two routes with your mileage rates. First, if you want a tax deduction and gift-in-kind recognition, you may submit your expenses as a deduction on your annual taxes, currently at $0.14/mile and then the form to the College. Driving your personal car, you will submit the mileage to the College for reimbursement at the higher standard mileage rate found on the College accounts payable web page. 

Hotels? The College provides you with a hotel room in Grinnell, however you may choose to pay for your own room and ask for a reimbursement (up to the cost of the Grinnell-provided room) or for gift-in-kind credit. 

Matching Gifts? We ask that every donor to the College look into matching gift opportunities with their employer. This is a great way to increase your philanthropic impact to Grinnell.  If you have any questions, please contact our office as we may know if your employer participates in this type of giving.

As always, please contact our office should you need additional assistance. We thank you for your commitment to Grinnell College and for all the work you do on and off campus.