Potential Problems With Planned Giving

While at an event last week I meet a woman that heads the  planned giving department for a university. Intrigued I asked her more about what the department did on a daily basis and was absolutely floored when she told me what their responsibilities.

Perhaps I”m behind the times, but who on earth knew there was that much involved with taking something that someone wants to give away. And to think, she had to deal with hundreds of gifts a year?

Luckily (or unluckily depending on your perspective) most organizations don”t have to worry about working with gifts on the scale she does. But the potential problems still abound. And much like everything else the key is knowing that you don”t know. Then taking it a step further and doing the research to figure it out.

Having looked a little more into the topic, I wanted to outline some possible problems organizations can run into when dealing with gifts. But what good is knowing the problem if you don”t have solutions? So there”s also a quick discussion of best practices that follow.


Possible Legal Concerns

  • There are certain contributions that can place the organization”s status in jeopardy. For example, best online casino those that place  restrictions on what an organization may do and who it may service.
  • Staff could very easily fall into the trap of unlawfully practicing law by advising donors on what they should and should not do.
  • Along those same lines there could be a conflict of interest with an organization advising a donor on contributions and then taking a donation.
  • Certain gifts require actions to be taken such as a filing or report.
  • Gifts like bequests and trusts may require transactions be structured in a specific manner.

The list could go on and on. But clearly one can see the legal issues abound. Failing to familiarize one”s self with these issues can not only amount in fines (that possibly cost more than the original  donation) but place the organization”s status in jeopardy as well.


Things You Can Do

There are dozens of best practices an organization can utilize. First and foremost an organization must have a policy. What gifts may be accepted and what gifts are better left untouched? What gifts trigger special actions such as reporting or filing? Are there any Uniform Rules, ethics or standards that should be adhered to? The cycle of planned giving must be thought out thoroughly.  And more importantly it must be memorialized in a written policy provided to all staff and board members (more on this to follow).

Organizations might also consider a standing planned giving committee. Just a small group of individuals that keep an eye on gifts coming in, ensure that the organization isn”t being put at risk and is are able to quickly respond to any contributions or gifts that come up. Some people even suggest having a gift acceptance committee separate and apart from one for planned giving. Either way, it helps to have individuals familiar with and organization, and its books, to help out.


Further Reading….