Seven Elements of a Gift Acceptance Policy

If your organization doesn’t have a Gift Acceptance Policy, first consider why you need one. If such a policy is already in place, consider reviewing it annually with board members and fundraising staff. This routine practice educates new members to the team and affords regular consideration of changes to the policy.

As you draft your policy, incorporate these seven elements:

1)     The organization’s mission and purpose. Your guiding principles should frame the decisions to accept—or decline—gifts to the organization.

2)     The purpose of this policy. The aim of this policy is not to restrict the organization, but rather to guide decisions and protect the organization’s assets, fundraising staff and donors.

3)     Use of legal counsel. Outline circumstances when legal counsel should be consulted, such as reviewing certain gifts, contracts and legal documents, transactions with potential conflicts of interests, etc. Specify when appraisals are required, and who will pay for the appraisal. 

4)     Consideration of a donor’s conflict of interest. The organization should encourage donors to consult with their professional advisors before making substantial gifts to the organization.

5)     Donor restrictions on gifts. What kinds of gift restrictions does the organization allow a donor to impose?

6)     Composition of a Gift Acceptance Committee. Inevitably, there may be rare exceptions to the gift acceptance policy or unique gifts which require consideration. Exceptions to the gift policy must be rare, well-supported and reasoned.

A small team of the organization’s financial governors may be named to a review board for consideration of these exceptions. These team members may include the chief financial officer, chief fundraising personnel, chief operations officer and president of the board. When applicable, the team may consult experts such as environmental analysts, property brokers and legal advisors.

7)     Types of gifts the organization receives. Small non-profits may not be able to accept all types of gifts, due to expertise in handling the gift or the resources available. Commonly, organizations receive gifts of cash, tangible personal property, marketable securities, real estate, life insurance. There may be reasons why an organization may decline any of these types of gifts. Such reasons for exemption should be outlined in the policy.

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