Gift Acceptance Policies

Posted on 12.12.13

giftBy Ron Emanuel, CPA | Supervisor

Gifts to nonprofit organizations come in a variety of forms, from cash donations to donated assets. In most cases, your organization will accept donor gifts and thank them for their contribution.  However, what happens when a donor offers a nontraditional gift you are not familiar with?  Certain gifts may require the organization to incur expenses which reduce the benefit to the organization.  A gift acceptance policy could help your organization deal with these situations.

Benefits of Gift Acceptance Policy

Have you ever had to decline accepting a gift? In these cases, referring to the organizations gift acceptance policy will provide staff guidance on how to address this with the donor. A sound policy will provide development staff clear cut guidelines on what types of gifts the organization will accept, which gifts may require further information before accepting or which gifts your organization will not accept. This allows staff to focus on the day-to-day activities and direct their marketing efforts.

Gift acceptance policies can be shared with potential donors and be used to enhance relationships with current donors. For donors who may contribute to multiple organizations, the donor may think all organizations have the same policy. Not only will an acceptance policy help outline the differences of your organization, it can facilitate a conversation with the donor about creative ways to donate.

What should a Gift Acceptance Policy include?

There is no one size fits all gift acceptance policy. While many of the same elements may be incorporated into a policy, every organization should customize their policy to the organization based on its needs, resources and level of expertise within the organization. When drafting a policy, it should be a collaborative effort to include the development staff, executive management and board of directors.

Here are a few key items a policy should address:

  • Organization’s mission statement
  • Purpose of the policy
  • Description of the types of gifts that can be accepted, gifts that need further examination or approval by the board and gifts that will not be accepted
  • When to use legal counsel
  • Acknowledge of gifts
  • IRS filings
  • Additional roles and responsibilities of staff, the board, an donors
  • Review and changes to the policy

What next?

After adoption of a policy, there are several ongoing factors to consider. Here are a few key factors to consider:

  • Should the policy be reviewed by legal counsel?
  • How and when to implement the policy?
  • Does staff, management or new board members need training?
  • Should the policy be distributed to donors? If so, how?
  • How to handle “saying no” to donors due to unacceptable gifts based on the policy?

There are numerous examples of gift acceptance policies available which may be used as guides for establishing your organizations own policy. Many nonprofit organizations include their policies on their website.

Please contact Keiter with any questions regarding gift acceptance policies at 804.747.0000 | information@keitercpa.com.

The information contained within this article is provided for informational purposes only and is current as of the date published. Online readers are advised not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a professional accountant, as this article is not a substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, or financial advice from a professional accountant.

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