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Contracts & Events

Explore the categories below for financial management information related to catering and events.


The purpose of event contracts and the review process is to protect you, your department, the Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern University from liability. No event should be held without an authorized contract signed by the Vice Dean for Finance & Administration.

Please follow these rules:

  • Every hotel booking, restaurant, venue and/or caterer must have a signed contract/agreement and related documents as required.
  • A contract will not be endorsed until it has passed through the review process below (contracts and agreements cannot be signed at a departmental level).
  • Liability is of heightened concern when the event includes alcohol, whether it is on or off campus. The university does not carry alcohol liability insurance because we are not in the business of serving alcohol. The vendor must provide alcohol liability coverage or no alcohol can be served. Importantly, if your department is providing alcohol in any manner, even a casual gathering, you are required to hire a licensed bartender.
  • Departments should refer to Risk Management regarding liability insurance for serving of alcohol at events.

Document Review Process

  1. The sponsoring department obtains agreement/contract (any document that has a signature line requiring endorsement) from the hotel/restaurant/caterer/venue.
  2. Submit the package of documents to the Office of Finance & Administration via the Contracts for Hotels, Venues, Catering and Restaurants online form or by email to as soon as possible or at a minimum of at least two weeks in advance of the deadline to authorize the agreement. The package of documents includes the agreement and, when applicable, the Expense Policy Exception Form, Northwestern University Events Rider, certificate of insurance and event flyer or invitation. The rider and certificate are not required if you are using a Preferred Vendor.
  3. The Office of Finance & Administration will review the documents and alert the requesting department to any issues. Once all documents are in order, the final set of documents will be given to the Vice Dean of Finance and Administration for final review and signature. Any remaining issues are brought to the attention of the requesting department.
  4. The requesting unit provides final signed documents to the vendor.

Please include all other documents (i.e., certificate of insurance, events rider) in all correspondence with the vendor.

Contracts and Required Documents Checklist

 Charitable Donations

Northwestern University may provide donations to charitable organizations only as outlined in the Charitable Donations by the University Policy. Donations made at the direction of the president, provost or executive vice president or donations to attend or gain recognition at fundraising events require you to complete the Request Form to Provide Donations to or Fundraise for a Registered Not-for-Profit Charitable Organizations for approval from the requesting unit, school and university. Donations to for-profit businesses or organizations, foreign organizations and political activities are not permitted. To obtain school approval, the review process is similar to that of contracts.

Requests to make charitable donations should be submitted to the Office of Finance & Administration via the Charitable Donation online form. The package of documents should include:

The request will be reviewed by the Office of Finance & Administration and, if approved, signed by the Vice Dean of Finance & Administration. The request form to provide donations will be returned to the requesting unit for routing to the Senior Associate Vice President for Finance & Treasurer for university approval.

 Paying Vendors

When paying the vendor, the following documentation must be uploaded to the Requisition or Payment Request to ensure timely processing:

  • Approved documentation (e.g., contract, event rider)
  • Event flyer or invitation
  • Guest list
  • Approved Expense Policy Exception (if required)

For approved charitable donations, please remember to charge the tax-deductible amount to account code 78654.

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