In the midst of ongoing responsibilities of cultivating relationships and increasing funds for your organization, developing foundational policies can be overlooked.
If your organization doesn’t have a Gift Acceptance Policy, here’s why you need one:
- Not every gift is a “good” gift. For many non-profit organizations, this basic statement can be difficult to reconcile. There can be a number of reasons a donor’s gift may burden an organization. Consider hidden costs such as taxes, fees and liability coverage to keep the gift; the costs of staff time to manage or care for the gift; and the likely market or environmental factors which may implicate selling the gift. A gift acceptance policy helps an organization from receiving gifts with unexpected costs of the organization’s time, money and exposure to liability.
- A policy guides fundraising staff. When a donor wants to make a gift to the organization, fundraising staff are conditioned to accept it. But if not every gift is a good gift, fundraising staff may see declining a donor’s gift as threatening to the relationship they have worked so diligently to cultivate. A gift acceptance policy defuses the urgency of deciding with a pending gift, affording the fundraising staff to pass along the unusual gift offer to the gift acceptance team for consideration.
- A policy protects the organization. It’s not unusual for gifts to come with unexpected costs such as professional fees, appraisal expenses or other dues. A well-developed policy outlines who will pay for these costs. Detailing very clearly how assets are handled by the organization eliminates misunderstanding from the donor as to what is expected.
If you already have a Gift Acceptance Policy, it’s important to review the document annually with board members and fundraising staff. The policy, meant to guide—not restrict—your team, may require changes unique to your organization’s circumstances, which may restrict or expand types of gifts received. The policy should allow rare exceptions for specific consideration, and should explicitly state how those rare exceptions should be handled.