20 Jan Gift Acceptance Policy (and Another Suggestion about Policies)
I’ve been writing about year-end tasks that seemingly always need to be done, but also seem to quickly fall off the table in favor of more urgent activities. Things like taking time to thank the donors who make your organization’s work possible, reviewing 2009 giving information so you understand what happened and areas for improvement, and cleaning up your data and paper files. January is also a good month to review your policies, and your gift acceptance policy in particular.
If a donor wants to give you stock, do you know what to do? Is your organization capable and ready to receive such a gift? Do you have a broker who will handle it for you? Will you sell it right away (preferred policy!), or keep it as an investment? What about gifts of other items, such as a car or truck, a piece of furniture, jewelry, or art? How about Life Insurance? Or land that has little or no conservation value?
These are issues commonly handled in a Gift Acceptance Policy. You should have one, your Board (especially your Fundraising Committee) should be familiar with it, and you should review it periodically.
A good gift acceptance policy will address the issues above and more. Here is my starter checklist:
- Cash and cash equivalents – do you accept credit cards? Debit cards? Automatic periodic transfers?
- Gifts of appreciated stock
- Gifts of real estate (both conservation land and non-conservation land) – will you accept land without stewardship funding?
- Gifts of other real property
- Gifts of time (in-kind services)
- Temporarily and permanently restricted gifts – can you handle the accounting?
- Gifts of Life Insurance
- Estate Gifts
- Other Planned Gifts (annuities, remainder trusts, and so on)
- Acknowledgement Policies
- If someone gives you a restricted gift, are they considered a member?
- Are higher level membership benefits based on a single gift decision or on cumulative giving? Do matching gifts count?
While I’m on the topic of policies, let me offer one other suggestion: Dedicate the majority of one Board meeting each year to policy review. For every organization, but especially for land trusts seeking accreditation, it is important that Board members know what policies the organization has in place and where to find them easily for review.
This dedicated meeting (I suggest each year in February) could be the one meeting each year to adopt new policies, review existing policies, and make any needed changes. Delegate a set of policies to each Board member for specific review and recommendations, and ask that members briefly present the policy to the Board.
“I reviewed our Conflict of Interest Policy and can’t see any changes necessary this year. In my opinion, we followed this policy consistently last year. We will want to watch the new IRS definition of “independent individuals” in the future, but it doesn’t seem to be an issue right now. Does anyone have a question about our Conflict of Interest Policy?”
That’s about all it takes. If each Board member takes a small set of policies to review and report on, and if that set is different each year, Board members will become increasingly aware of how land trusts work and increasingly valuable because of it.
What’s in your organization’s gift acceptance policy?
As always, your comments, responses, and questions are welcomed here and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org