What is a Gift?

Has anyone ever asked you what a gift is?

One morning I was having breakfast with the late Jimmie Alford who, by the way, was a very nice man.  I asked him, “We talk about gifts all the time, but how exactly would you define a gift?”

“Rob, that’s a very good question, actually.  No one’s every asked me that before, I confess.  Can you give me some time to think about it?”

Here’s what Jimmie sent me:

“We define a gift as any asset conveyed by the donor to the ownership of the organization that can be applied to its work and mission and that can be expressed in dollar form on the organization’s financial records and donor database.

“Gifts may include contributions of cash, appreciated securities or mutual fund shares, other gifts of real property that the organization chooses to accept and that can be converted to cash at some time, gifts in kind that the organization judges to be applicable to its work and mission, and irrevocable pledges or bequest expectancies.  Standard campaign pledges may be recorded on the donor database and counted toward a campaign goal but will not be considered as gifts.  If we are listing a gift in kind for recognition purposes, the donor’s valuation of the gift will be used.

“There will be certain circumstances when a ‘quid pro quo’ is offered in exchange for a gift.  When that offer involves a naming opportunity or other gift stewardship of negligible donor value it will not impact the status of the gift.  When the gift is made in ‘purchase’ of an ad, a raffle ticket, etc., care will be taken to advise the donor as to the tax deductibility of the gift.”

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