Original Issuance Date: June 3, 1997
Last Revision Date: January 27, 2020

1. Policy Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish parameters for purchasing institutional or organizational memberships to professional associations, societies or organizations with UW System funds.

2. Responsible UW System Officer

Vice President for Finance

3. Scope

This policy applies to all UW System employees seeking to purchase an institutional or organizational membership with any university funds, whether paid directly or reimbursed through university business processes.

4. Background

Memberships in professional associations, societies, organizations, etc., are often essential for effective performance of University of Wisconsin System academic or administrative operations. It is necessary to delineate those circumstances where purchase of a membership is considered appropriate.

5. Definitions

Employee: Faculty, staff, or students who work for the university in exchange for remuneration.

Institution: All research and comprehensive UW System universities and branch campuses, UW-Shared Services, and UW System Administration.

6. Policy Statement

When an annual or multi-year membership to a professional association, society or organization is paid or reimbursed through university business processes, the membership must be deemed necessary to the effective performance of University of Wisconsin System operations. UW Institutions are generally prohibited from purchasing a membership if the primary beneficiary of the expenditure is the individual unless expressly permitted by this policy.

When membership is deemed essential, an institutional or organizational membership should be the first option considered.

Because not all professional societies, associations, and organizations offer institutional or organizational memberships, individual memberships may be purchased under the following circumstances:

  • No institutional or organizational membership is available; or
  • The cost of the individual membership is considerably less than an organizational or institutional membership, and there is a clear advantage to the University in obtaining the individual membership. Advantages should include the following:
    • Reductions in fees for conferences and seminars which departmental personnel normally attend, and/or
    • Receipt of publications, newsletters or other mailings that are an important part of departmental operations, particularly those that would ordinarily be ordered at additional cost to the University.

There may be instances where it would be appropriate for an institution, college or department to have more than one membership in the same organization. If an exception is made to allow for an individual membership or multiple memberships, proper justification and approval should be provided by the Dean or Director of the College or Division or an administrator at an equivalent level.

A university business address should be listed for all memberships.

The individual or entity purchasing the membership should be prepared to justify to any internal or external constituency, including the media, the necessity of obtaining a membership.

7. Related Documents

None Listed

8. Policy History

Revision 1: January 27, 2020
First approved: June 3, 1997

9. Scheduled Review

January 2025