The purpose of the Gift Acceptance Policies is to give guidance and counsel to those individuals within The Westport Library (“the Library”) concerned with the planning, promotion, solicitation, receipt, acceptance, management, reporting, use, and disposition of private sector gifts.
These policies must be viewed as flexible and realistic in order to accommodate unpredictable situations as well as donor expectations, as long as such situations and expectations are consistent with the Library’s mission and policies. Flexibility must be maintained since some gift situations will be complex, and proper decisions can be made only after careful consideration of all related factors. These policies may, therefore, require that the merits of a particular gift be considered by the appropriate staff and/or committee of the board along with legal counsel and trustees if necessary.
All fundraising activities and their day-to-day implementation, are designed and managed by the Development Director and appropriate staff, are supervised by the Library Director and are subject to approval by the Board.
The Board, through the Development and Finance Committee and the Library Director, is responsible for the Gift Acceptance Policies. These policies and authorizations shall be reviewed by the Development Committee on an annual basis or as circumstances warrant.
Any exceptions to these Gift Acceptance Policies may be made only in exceptional circumstances, on an individual basis, and shall require the approval of the board.
These Gift Acceptance Policies may be amended by the board, upon recommendation from the development committee, or as deemed appropriate.
I. Receipt of Gifts
It is the responsibility of the Board to determine that gifts to the Library are evidence of philanthropic intent and that the donor’s philanthropy is in accord with the stated mission and goals of the Library.
Unrestricted, outright gifts of cash, check, credit card, and online and publicly traded securities do not require board approval. Such routine gifts are accepted and administered through the Director of Development, with final authority to accept routine gifts lying with the Library Director.
Unsolicited, unrestricted gifts of $10,000 or less, the purpose of which is not specified by the donor, go into the annual fund, and unsolicited, unrestricted gifts above that amount, the purpose for which is not specified by the donor, are directed to wherever the Board approves, upon recommendation of the finance committee.
The Westport Library accepts gifts designated in memory of or in honor of a loved one. Funds can be designated for the Library’s annual appeal which supports programs and services, the Library’s general endowment, or to benefit the Library's Capital Projects.
If a donor wishes to designate the funds for something specific within the above mentioned categories, donors must communicate with the Library beforehand to ensure that such designation is consistent with the Library’s mission and strategic plan and is acceptable to the Library.
Publicly traded securities will be counted at the average of the high and low market value on postmark date if mailed, or the date and time of transfer if electronically transferred to the Library’s broker. Securities that are not readily marketable (closely held stock, limited partnerships, joint venture interests, etc) must be approved by the finance committee of the Board on a case by case basis and may be valued at the per-share cash purchase price of the most recent transaction, or as established by a qualified appraisal.
All securities may be held or sold immediately upon receipt into the account in the discretion of the Finance Committee. The funds available after the sale will be invested in accordance with the Library’s Endowment Investment & Spending Policy.
Noncash gifts will be accepted only when it is reasonably expected they can be converted into cash within a reasonable period of time or when the Library can utilize the property in its operations and the gift is consistent with its mission and goals. Generally, nine months shall be considered reasonable for conversion to cash. All noncash gifts to the Library will be sold at the discretion of the Library, whose express policy will be to convert the property to cash at the earliest opportunity, keeping in mind current market conditions and the potential use of the property in the accomplishment of the mission of the Library.
Property encumbered by a mortgage or other indebtedness cannot normally be accepted as a gift unless the donor agrees to assume all carrying costs until the property is liquidated. Exceptions to this guideline can be made when the value of the property exceeds the anticipated exposure, or will produce income, or will be used by the Library in its programs.
Associated expenses of a non cash gift made to the Library are to be borne by the donor.
Gifts of Property
Any gifts of property valued at $5,000 or more must be approved by the board or designated committee of the board.
Donors of property gifts of over $5,000, except for gifts of publicly traded stock, must obtain an appraisal by an independent third-party appraiser in accordance with current tax law requirements. Donors are responsible for obtaining their own appraisals for tax purposes of real property or tangible or intangible personal property being given to the Library and for any fees or other expenses related to such appraisals.
The Library retains the right, at its own expense, to obtain its own qualified appraisals of real property or tangible or intangible personal property being offered as a gift.
The Library will acknowledge receipt of gifts of tangible personal or real property in accordance with the federal tax law and will sign any IRS form or other documents necessary for the donor to obtain a tax deduction for such gifts, so long as such acknowledgment does not entail valuing the gift.
Gifts of art, furniture, books, stamps, coins, and other collections must have values assessed by properly accredited independent appraisers retained by potential donors for appropriate gift tax credit. The Library shall acknowledge receipt of such properties but must not verify values.
To avoid conflicts of interest, the unauthorized practice of law, the rendering of investment advice, or the dissemination of income or estate tax advice, all donors of noncash gifts must acknowledge that the Library is not acting as a professional advisor, rendering opinions on the gift. All information concerning gift planning from the Library is to be for illustrative purposes only and is not to be relied upon in individual circumstances. The Library may require a letter of understanding from a donor of a property gift, along with proof of outside advice being rendered, before such a gift will be accepted.
All gifts of life insurance must comply with applicable state insurance regulations, including insurable interest clauses.
Bequests & Planned Gifts
The Library accepts gifts from annuities, charitable remainder trusts and charitable lead trusts but does not serve as an administrator or guarantor for such gifts.
All receipts above $10,000 from unrestricted bequests, annuities, charitable remainder trusts, or charitable lead trusts shall become a part of the general board restricted endowment, unless the executive committee determines a particular unrestricted gift of the type enumerated in this paragraph should be deposited in a different account.
Upon request, the Library may provide to the donor sample bequest language for restricted and unrestricted gifts to ensure that a bequest is properly designated. The Library may also provide, upon request, IRS-approved prototype trust agreements for review and consideration by the donor and his or her advisors. The sample nature of such language or agreements shall be clearly stated on all documents given to donors, and donors shall be advised that consultation with their own legal advisors is essential prior to use of such standard language or specimen agreements.
While the Library is happy to offer assistance to attorneys and other professional advisors by providing specific language to be used in charitable giving instruments, it cannot pay any attorney’s or advisor’s fees associated with this work.
The Library shall encourage donors to seek their own counsel in matters relating to their bequests, life income gifts, tax planning, and estate planning.
II. Unacceptable Gifts
The Library reserves the right to refuse any gift that is not consistent with its mission and goals. In addition to and without limiting the generality of, the following gifts will not be accepted by the Library:
1. Gifts that violate any federal, state, or local statute or ordinance
2. Gifts that contain unreasonable conditions (e.g., a lien or other encumbrance) or gifts of partial interest and property
3. Gifts that are financially unsound
4. Gifts that could expose the Library to liability
The board shall assure itself that all philanthropic promotions and solicitation are ethical and that no board members or Library personnel benefit personally by way of commissions or other devices related to gifts received.
Conflict of Interest
The board will assure itself that trustees and Library personnel are circumspect in all dealings with donors in order to avoid even the appearance of any act of self dealing. Those individuals who normally engage in the solicitation of gifts on behalf of the Library shall not personally benefit by way of commission, contract fees, salary, or other benefits from any donor in the performance of their duties on behalf of the Library. (The definition of individuals includes each of the categories of employees of the Library, including its trustees, as well as members of their immediate family. Individuals are further defined to include associations, partnerships, corporations, or other enterprises in which a member of the staff holds a principal ownership interest.)
Commissions for gifts
The Library will not pay commissions or finder’s fees as consideration for directing a gift to the Library. This includes and is not limited to work with fundraising consultants, financial advisors and real estate agents.
IV. Professional Counsel
On occasion the board may retain legal counsel to review legal documents, contracts, and other donor agreements. All agreements shall follow the formats of the specimen agreements to be approved by legal counsel unless counsel has agreed in writing to a change for a specific agreement. Prospective donors shall be responsible for their own legal, accounting, appraisal, transportation, and other fees related to the Library.
The Library will be responsible for good stewardship toward its donors by following these guidelines:
1. Upon acceptance of any gift, the Library will endeavor to uphold all donor intentions expressed in writing at the time of the donation.
2. All gifts will be acknowledged within the required, or otherwise reasonable, period of time.
3. All gift acknowledgment letters/receipts will be prepared by the Library Director or his or her designee.
4. Files, records, and mailing lists regarding all donors and donor prospects are maintained and controlled by the Library. Maximum use will be made of information and contacts that members of the board, various volunteer groups, or the staff have with potential donors. Written reports of interviews and solicitations will be maintained in the donor prospect file and/or computer.
5. This information is confidential and is strictly for the use of the Library board and staff. Use of this information shall be restricted to organization purposes only. Donor has the right to review his or her donor fund file(s).
6. Gifts to the Library and accompanying correspondence will be considered confidential information, with the exception of the publication of donor recognition activities. All donor requests for confidentiality will be honored.
7. Names of donors will not be provided by the Library to other organizations, nor will any lists be sold or given to other organizations.
VI. Conformity to Federal and State Regulations
Adherence to the Law
The board of trustees will assure itself that fundraising activities comply with local, state and federal laws.
Required Reporting of Gifts to the Internal Revenue Service
Should the Library sell, exchange, or otherwise dispose of any gift (other than checks, cash, or publicly traded stocks or bonds), within two years after the date of the gift, the Library will furnish the Internal Revenue Service and the donor with a completed Form 8282 (Donee Information Return).
Adopted by the Library Board of Trustees May 18, 2011. Revised and adopted by the Board of Trustees on June 18, 2014.