Why You Need Gift Acceptance PoliciesWhite PaperWhy You Need Gift Acceptance PoliciesHow Thoughtful Planning about Non-Cash Gifts CanImprove Your Donor RelationshipsKatherine Swank, J.D., Consultant, Target Analytics, a Blackbaud Companyall gifts are not equal!Executive SummaryMany nonprofit organizations don’tbelieve their fundraising programsare sophisticated enough to requirea gift acceptance policy, especiallythose whose funding is primarilybased on memberships, annualHave you ever answered your office phone and received an offer of a donated timeshare? Hasa well-meaning volunteer approached you with a new and exciting way to promote futuregifts through a life insurance program? If not, let me assure you that it’s only a matter of timeuntil a scenario like this happens. And if it already has, you may have hesitated to commit ananswer and then struggled over the consequences of rejecting or accepting it. All gifts are notequal in their financial value to your organization, nor are they equal in value and impact fromone nonprofit to the next. A gift acceptance policy that clearly sets forth your organizationalposition on non-cash and deferred gifts not only provides you a road map but also removesthe development team from the decision-making process and puts it squarely with the boardof directors or trustees, where it, and special events. But it’sonly a matter of time before adonor offers you a remote desertproperty, a share in a race-horse, oranother unexpected gift. A wellcrafted policy can help you replacean awkward rejection with astructured discussion and eventualgift that is both meaningful to thedonor and appropriate to furtherWhen first considering gift acceptance policies, you should start with an inventory of thetypes of gifts you currently accept, coupled with gifts that have already been offered but thatyou have turned down. Add to your list gifts that you are considering accepting in the future.With this in hand, you are ready to start the process of formulating your organization’s giftacceptance policies.your mission.policies allow staff to maintain consistency andstandardsThe most practical application of gift acceptance policies is that they provide developmentstaff and volunteer leadership with a guide from which to solicit mission funds. Policies outlinethe types and forms of donations that will be readily accepted or may be accepted after furtherreview. This allows financial and development staff to concentrate on the day-to-day process ofaccepting, recording, acknowledging, and stewarding commonly received gift assets routinely.Equally, policies direct staff to seek leadership approval for certain gifts or even direct staff toreject an offered gift outright. By default, they frame the organization’s marketing efforts bothto insiders and to general constituents.what should the policies include?ContentsAll Gifts Are Not Equal!. . . . . . . . . . 1Policies Allow Staff to MaintainConsistency and Standards. . . . . . . 1What Should the Policies Include?. . 1Policies Drive Your FundraisingMarketing Efforts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2There are many examples and templates of gift acceptance policies available for generaluse through consultants and the Internet. Every organization, however, needs policies thatincorporate its specific requirements. Policies adopted by the local animal shelter will varyfrom those of a child advocate program; a youth organization dedicated to teaching sailingmay accept boats and boating equipment, while a public radio network may choose to rejectsuch gifts. While a simple planned gift program’s policies could be completed in less than tenpages, every organization should consider the following sections .Use Your Gift Acceptance Policies toEnhance Donor Relationships. . . . . 3Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4Non-Cash Gift Inventory. . . . . . . . 51

A statement on the organization’s mission and purpose of the gift policies; Guidelines on when to use outside legal counsel; A list of the types of gifts that can be accepted on behalf of the organization bydevelopment staff and the types of gifts that require approval from the chief executiveor chief financial officer; A description of the types of gift restrictions that are acceptable; A listing of the types of planned gift vehicles accepted; A description of the form of gifts accepted; A statement regarding the disposition of gifts accepted; A statement regarding the organization’s role in gift administration;About the Author A statement regarding the responsible party for legal and professional fees tocomplete the gift;Katherine Swank, J.D.A statement of appropriate reporting, counting, and valuation of gifts on thenonprofit books;nonprofit management experience, Regular review and changes to the policies.With more than 20 years of legal andKatherine Swank has raised approximately 215 million for national healthcare andpublic broadcasting organizations, as wellpolicies drive your fundraising marketing effortsas an independent law school. Prior toUp-to-date and flexible gift policies provide development staff with a list of current anddeferred gift types to market to appropriate donors. The exercise of creating and periodicallyreviewing the policies also educates paid and volunteer leadership on acceptable gift formsand may provoke interest in one or more giving methods amongst this group of insiders andloyal supporters.Swank was the national director of giftjoining Target Analytics in May 2007, Ms.planning at the National Multiple SclerosisSociety, where she provided fundraisingconsulting services to the Society’s chapterleadership and development staff for sixyears. She is an affiliate faculty memberFor example, a nonprofit board or development committee that sets about to understand andprepare to offer charitable gift annuities must look at several issues. These include whether todetermine a minimum initial gift value and whether to set a minimum entry age for donors.This could also include choosing an outside management firm to handle the administrationand legal reporting of the program and the decision to reinsure the contracts or not. Theprocess by itself educates and cultivates the committee members on the giving vehicles andcreates an inherent opportunity to qualify and solicit members to complete a charitable giftannuity contract.of Regis University’s master of nonprofitmanagement degree program in Denver,teaching classroom and online courseson wealth and philanthropy. She holdsan independent studies degree from theUniversity of Northern Colorado and a lawdegree from the Drake University School ofLaw in Des Moines, Iowa.The same is true for all deferred and non-cash gift subjects: If your policy does not allowthe acceptance of gifts of real estate, naturally you will neither promote such gifts nor useexamples of gifts that include the use of real estate in your marketing. The policies themselvesprevent you from sending mixed messages to your donors.Once your policies are written, you can begin to focus on promoting the gifts from which youexpect to receive the highest return. Maximize your chances for success by identifying andtarget-marketing your most likely prospect segments. Predictive giving behavior modelingfrom a technology provider is one such solution.2

use your gift acceptance policies to enhancedonor relationshipsMake your gift acceptance policies a conduit for your major and planned giving programs. Ifyou accept bequests through wills and trusts, you will want to collect stories of both living anddeceased donors who have completed these gifts. If donors routinely give you gifts of stocksor securities, be sure that your annual fund solicitations reveal this fact. Don’t assume that allof your donors want to make a gift using a check or a credit card. Non-cash gifts can be easyto accept and, generally, they are larger than cash-equivalent gifts. Frequently, a non-cash ordeferred gift reflects a close bond that a donor feels with your organization. Pay attention!Your donor is raising his hand when he gives you a gift of stock. Your volunteer is indicatingher intention to create a closer relationship when she mentions that she has left you a gift inher will.Use these indicators to move a seemingly ordinary donor or volunteer into your pool ofconstituents who receive extraordinary attention. People who care enough to include you intheir final plans alongside their loved ones or reach into their portfolio of long-term financialinvestments are special. Statistically speaking, they will become more consistent and largerannual donors, and their planned gifts may turn out to be ten times, a hundred times, or evenseveral thousand times larger than their average annual gifts.Additionally, these extra–special people create a very personal collection of real-life donorstories that provides you with ready-to-use examples for marketing materials, such asnewsletter articles, pictorial advertisements for internal publications, and your website. Listsof donors who have completed planned gifts, both living and deceased, make a vivid statementthat you accept deferred gifts, you are prepared to steward them correctly, and you appreciatethem.Remind your donors at every opportunity of the types of gifts that you accept. Start byinforming and periodically reminding your leadership and staff. Expand your efforts by targetmarketing specific gift ideas to your most likely constituents. Here is a short list of ways tokeep your policies current and relevant to your mission funding efforts, as well as to encourageyour constituents to make such gifts: Publish your gift acceptance policies on your website and in your annual report; Recognize donors who have completed legacy gifts in your regular publications; Provide check-off boxes, a website address, and the name and contact information ofthe person who can provide information about planned gifts.For more ideas on marketing planned gifts to your constituents, read How the Right MarketingStrategies Can Enhance Your Planned Giving Program, a white paper by Lawrence Henze.Make certain that your leadership and staff have the opportunity to hear about and considerplanned gifts as well. After all, your closest, most active, and committed friends may well bethe first to consider and complete a planned gift. To do this: Include your gift acceptance policies in your board of directors orientation materials; Make certain the review of the policies is on the board agenda at least annually;3

Include them in your staff orientation materials;About Blackbaud Give staff members a copy of your donor stories and invite them to ask questionsabout making planned gifts;Blackbaud is the leading global providerHighlight board and staff members who complete a gift, and make them part of yourrecognition society.specifically for nonprofit organizations,Consider special recognition in your annual report for staff and leadership withplanned gift commitments.efficiency, build strong relationships, Also create a simple hand-out sheet that lists the different “ways to give” to your organization.Generally, such a marketing tool can be one page in length and gives a short description ofthe types and forms of gifts you accept. Your gift acceptance policies provide you the list.This piece should be easy to read, and you should stay away from technical language. Talkingto donors about planned gifts is more like going on a date than it is like having a financialmeeting. To find out how to start these conversations, read another one of my white papersHow To Talk with Donors about Planned Gifts.conclusionGift acceptance policies provide a well-lit path upon which donors can find their way.Determining which non-cash and deferred gifts are most appropriate for your organizationnot only focuses your solicitations but hones your marketing resources toward those groups ofprospects most likely to respond. Use the attached sample checklist to get started today!of software and services designedenabling them to improve operationaland raise more money to supporttheir missions. Approximately 19,000organizations use one or more ofBlackbaud products and services forfundraising, constituent relationshipmanagement, financial management,direct marketing, school administration,ticketing, business intelligence, websitemanagement, prospect research,consulting, and analytics. Since 1981,Blackbaud’s sole focus and expertisehas been partnering with nonprofitsand providing them the solutions theyneed to make a difference in theirlocal communities and worldwide.Headquartered in the United States,Blackbaud also has operations in Canada,the United Kingdom, and Australia.For more information about Blackbaudsolutions, contact a Blackbaud accountrepresentative. In the United States andCanada, call toll-free 800.443.9441. InEurope, call 44 (0) 141 575 0000. Visitus on the web at June 2008, Blackbaud, Inc.This white paper is for informational purposesonly. Blackbaud makes no warranties, expressedor implied, in this summary. The informationcontained in this document represents the currentview of Blackbaud, Inc., on the items discussed asof the date of this publication. If you have questionsabout how this white paper’s content applies toyour organization, you should seek advice fromappropriate professional counsel.All Blackbaud product names appearing herein aretrademarks or registered trademarks of Blackbaud,Inc. The names of actual companies and productsmentioned herein may be the trademarks of theirrespective owners.4

non-cash gift inventoryUse this inventory to lead a discussion on your organization’s desire to accept, administer, and dispose of the each of the following noncash gift types:Gift TypeAcceptance StatusGift AcceptancePolicy StatusoooMutual fund ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooAutomobiles, boats, and other vehiclesoooooReal property (land and/or buildings)Tangible personal propertyBequestsCharitable gift annuitiesBargain salesLife income arrangementsLife insuranceDistributions from retirement plansOil, gas, and mineral interestsTimeshares and partial interests in real estateBusiness interestsClosely held securitiesNeeds to be updated/included in giftacceptance policiesWill not acceptoacceptance policiesMay accept in thefutureoDistributions from commercial annuitiesIs included incurrent giftCurrently acceptStocks and securities5

of Regis University’s master of nonprofit management degree program in Denver, teaching classroom and online courses on wealth and philanthropy. She holds an independent studies degree from the University of Northern Colorado and a law degree fro