Sep 5, 201701:14 PMThe Gray Area
with Donna Gray
A guide to business gifting
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With the fourth quarter coming up, companies that send gifts to their clients are already looking for the perfect gift. One of the big questions is how to send corporate gifts that will make an impression and won’t end up in the garbage. I think everyone has at some time or another received a gift from a company — sent to say “Thank you” — that ends up in the junk drawer or the circular file, aka the trashcan. The quest is to find gifts that are appreciated and will strengthen the relationship between the company and the client.
There are some general rules set up by the IRS that allow a business to deduct up to $25 for business gifts given to any one person per year. There’s no limit on how many people a company can give gifts to during the year, nor how much can be spent on each gift; however, business gift deductions are limited to that $25 per recipient.
Promotional items like pens, key chains, plastic bags, etc. that have the company logo imprinted, cost less than $4, and are widely distributed, can be deducted without limitation.
According to surveys, most business gifts are given to major clients and after that to employees and then to prospective clients. The Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) has conducted its own surveys that show vendors who give gifts are twice as likely to increase their chances of being contacted by recipients as those that don’t have a gift program.
Before giving any gift, you should know if either the giving or receiving company has policies regarding gifts. Many companies in the fields of financial services, insurance, retail, and medical fields do not allow gifts. Restrictions on the value of a gift can enter into the picture, as well.
The etiquette of gifting requires that the gift is appropriate to the business relationship. Timing is crucial in gifting and the most popular time, of course, is the holiday season. There’s always the question of whether to present the gift in person or by mail. Mailing reduces feelings of obligation and can be a great surprise in the middle of the workday. However, an in-person delivery can show the real caring that goes into a gift.
Another question is whether to logo or not to logo. For many businesses, customized gifts keep the giver top of mind for the client, especially when the gift is a practical one that might be used every day. Some items are great trade show premiums or “leave behinds”; however, self-promotion type items are obviously not considered personal, heartfelt gifts.