Gift Acceptance

Gift Acceptance


29 September 2020


By David Allen, Development for Conservation


On vacation this week, so I’m reposting a piece I wrote several years ago that seems still relevant. See you next week!


When I was raising money for The Nature Conservancy, a former board member approached us about gifting the Conservancy a number of shares of privately-held stock. His intent was that we would hold it for a period of several months while he was taking the company public. Following the Initial Public Offering (IPO), the Conservancy would be able to sell the stock for an estimated $1,000,000.

If this was you, what would you do? There are significant risks involved with accepting and holding stock anyway (it is NOT recommended), and the fact that it was privately held stock made it worse.

Still, it was a million dollars!

If a donor wanted to give you any 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 – tradeland? (See also, Gifts of Real Estate – Tradelands)

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?
  • How about “new money” like Venmo, PayPal, Google Wallet, and so on?
  • 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)
  • Gifts from Corporations and Businesses
  • Acknowledgement Policies
  • Benefits:
    • 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?


The Land Trust Alliance’s Gift Acceptance policy is on their website. I like it and it is worth reviewing both as a starter document and to help you think through all the possibilities. But it’s more complex than most land trusts need.

Do you have one you like? If so, I’d like to post it as alternative examples.

What’s in your organization’s gift acceptance policy? (When was the last time you formally reviewed it with your Fundraising Committee?)


Stay safe and stay well,




Photo by Travel Photographer courtesy



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1 Comment
  • Heidi Habeger
    Posted at 15:20h, 01 October

    Impeccable timing, as I have a development volunteer helping us put together a gift acceptance policy. It’s embarrassing that we don’t already have one. And fortunately have never needed one to politely decline a gift. I’ll be curious to see what policies others like…