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Volunteer Reimbursement

This new policy replaces both the SIGCHI Reimbursement Guidelines for SIGCHI Sponsored Conferences and the SIGCHI Reimbursement Policy and was approved by the SIGCHI EC. This is effective starting March 23, 2016 and was most recently updated in Jan 2019 on time limits around when claims should be submitted.


In SIGCHI, all volunteer activity is unpaid. This policy describes reimbursement of non-travel expenses associated with SIGCHI Sponsored Conferences and travel expenses associated with budgeted conference travel or approved SIGCHI duties. Persons traveling at SIGCHI’s expense are spending membership dues and conference attendee fees, and accordingly are expected to take care to travel economically. Claims for non-travel expenses should be submitted within 3 months of the expense date. Claims for travel expenses should be submitted within 3 months of the end date of travel. Claims after this date will require an exception to this policy and may not be reimbursed.

Any exceptions to this policy must be approved, in advance, by the ACM SIGCHI’s President or by an officer to whom the President delegates that authority. For conference related travel, the ACM SIGCHI VP Conferences has delegated authority to grant exceptions.

SIGCHI is the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction and is a volunteer led organization. As such, volunteers provide significant effort to SIGCHI without any compensation for their time, effort or expertise. In the course of activities SIGCHI has specific tasks performed by professional staff or outsourced tasks that require specific expertise, labour, and time availability, against appropriate compensation. However, when a volunteer takes on such a task, they are, by definition a volunteer activity and are not subject to compensation.

Where volunteers spend money related to travel, in the course of their volunteer duties or tasks, allowable costs can be reimbursed according to the volunteer travel policy here. Where the employer of a volunteer is willing to reimburse the abovementioned expenses, the volunteer is expected not to apply for ACM SIGCHI reimbursement.

In SIGCHI there are a number of occasions when volunteers are asked to travel to locations, including SIGCHI executive committee and conference management committee meetings, or planning meetings and site visits (subject to our Statement on Inclusiveness) in advance of a conference etc. Such travel may be covered by the conference (or SIGCHI) budget if prior approval is obtained, as outlined below. In practice, conferences that intend to include volunteer travel reimbursement must budget for this in their TMRF.

Approval of Volunteer Travel

All SIGCHI-paid travel must be pre-approved by the President of SIGCHI or by an officer to whom the President delegates that authority.  Unless otherwise noted, delegated authority to grant travel approval does not include authority to grant exceptions. Examples of such approval or delegation include:

  1. Travel to scheduled SIGCHI Executive Committee meetings is approved through an invitation from the ACM SIGCHI President, or other authorized individual.
  2. Travel to scheduled SIGCHI CMC meetings is approved through an invitation from the ACM SIGCHI VP Conferences, or other authorized individual.
  3. Travel to scheduled CHI conference planning meeting is approved through an invitation from the ACM SIGCHI President, or other authorized individual.
  4. Approval of a conference TMRF includes delegation of authority for travel approvals to the conference chair for all travel budgeted in that TMRF.
  5. Approval of SIGCHI’s budget includes delegation of authority for travel specifically budgeted to the officer under whose portfolio or area that travel occurs.
  6. Unbudgeted travel by SIGCHI’s President should be pre-approved by the SIGCHI VP for Finances.
  7. Unbudgeted travel by a conference Chair must be pre-approved by the SIGCHI President.

Key policy points which apply to volunteer travel

All SIGCHI volunteers agree to abide by both our SIGCHI travel policy restrictions on travel and the ACM’s Volunteer Travel Policy and volunteers should note that financial support for travel should only be requested and approved if no other source of funding is available.

Key points of the ACM policy are:

a)    Air travel should be economy (coach) class.

b)   Travel and subsistence should be at the lowest overall cost to ACM.

c)    If you need to stay an extra night to obtain a better airfare, and the total subsistence is less than the difference of the flight cost, do so, as long as it doesn’t interfere with personal requirements.

d)   If you stay extra time for personal reasons, and the resulting airfare is lower, hotel and meal costs should not be charged to ACM.

e)    If you are combining an ACM trip with regular business, then airfare and subsistence should be paid on a pro-rata basis.

f)     Use of your personal automobile is permitted where this is reasonable and convenient. Mileage will be reimbursed at the IRS allowable rate along with reasonable amounts for parking and tolls. Gasoline, oil, insurance, depreciation, etc., are included in this allowance.

g)    Transportation from airports and train stations should be by the lowest commercial carrier available except when it is more appropriate to take a taxi, as in the case of time constraints or number of people traveling.

h)   Reimbursement for meals are based on a maximum daily rate and are determined by geographical areas. The maximum subsistence is $60 Per day in the United States and $75 per day outside the United States. Meal reimbursements will be for actual expenses up to these amounts, and would not apply if one is attending an ACM meeting or function where a meal is provided.

i)     Reasonable laundry and cleaning expenses will be reimbursed for travel over three (3) days.

j)     Gratuities for emergency situations at conventions (last minute resets, moving of materials, etc.) are permitted only by a senior staff member or other headquarters personnel authorized by the COO.

k)    Original receipts are required for any airline and/or rail transportation, hotel, laundry and cleaning expenses.

Two further additional ACM policy points are that:

l)     Frequent flyer miles are not an approved travel reimbursement expense. Flights should be purchased as cash expenses.

m)  It’s against ACM policy for volunteer leaders to collect points or awards for any hotel expenditures that are paid for by ACM.

In addition, SIGCHI has four further policy restrictions on travel:

n)   Business class travel, while noted within the ACM policy in (a), is typically not permitted for ACM SIGCHI travel reimbursement. Justified exceptions must be pre-approved by SIGCHI’s President.

o)    Those travelling may upgrade to a higher (i.e., non-economy) class if they pay the difference between the economy fare and the higher fare class themselves. That is, they may only request reimbursement for the economy fare, which they must document. (tis point was revised in Nov 2016)

p)   Travel by air or train may not exceed $750 USD (for within-continent travel) or $1500 USD (for travel between continents). Justified exceptions must be pre-approved by SIGCHI’s President.

q)   Hotel accommodations must be at SIGCHI-contracted hotels, when so provided. When SIGCHI has not contracted for hotel space, accommodations should be at hotels no more expensive than 150% of the US State Department per diem hotel rate for the location. Justified exceptions must be pre-approved by SIGCHI’s President.

Non-Travel Expenses

Conference organizers are permitted to pay out of pocket for small budgeted expenses and to subsequently submit paperwork to the ACM for reimbursement. Conference organizers should submit timely requests for reimbursement as delaying reimbursement could negatively impact on the budgeting of the conference. This approach should never be used to pay for large items or for a large percentage of the conference expenses. In practice, this approach should only be taken in the event that the ACM is unable to pay for such expenses directly.

Reimbursable expenses include

  • Committee dinners
  • Office/Registration Supplies
  • Online expenses that require credit card payment
  • Low-cost or local, printing or t-shirts
  • Shipping and postage

Expenses, which cannot be reimbursed, include but are not limited to

  • Subscriptions or memberships
  • Equipment including laptops and audio visual equipment (please contact ACM for exceptions)
  • Volunteer labour or services
  • Gift cards or other monetary gifts (small tokens of appreciation are appropriate with prior approval from ACM SIGCHI required)

We remind all volunteers with financial authority or responsibility that they are governed by the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, including conflict of interest and professional behavior.

Effective Date: March 23, 2016
Replaces: SIGCHI Reimbursement Guidelines for SIGCHI Sponsored Conferences and the SIGCHI Reimbursement Policy
Responsible SIGCHI Officer: SIGCHI President
Last update: Jan, 25 2019

Other important pages to note from here:

[ACM Code of Ethics] [ACM Volunteer Travel Policy] [Conflict of Interest]
[SIGCHI Conference Policies] [Organizing a Conference] [People]

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