As a tax-exempt, Illinois non-profit, Start Early (formerly known as the Ounce) encourages the solicitation and acceptance of gifts in furtherance of its mission – to give children in poverty the best chance for success in school and in life. This Policy has been developed to outline the principles and procedures for accepting charitable gifts. Additional principles that guide gift acceptance can be found in the Donor Bill of Rights provided in this Policy.
Conflicts of Interest
Start Early reserves the right to refuse or decline any charitable gift based upon the fact or appearance of an actual or potential conflict of interest in accordance with its Conflict of Interest Policy. Gifts that may suggest a “quid pro quo” transaction will be closely scrutinized and require full disclosure of the relative benefits a donor might receive in return for the gift.
Each gift is recorded according to the designation indicated by the donor. If specific restrictions are indicated and the donor’s restrictions are impractical to follow, the gift will not be accepted. Gifts are acceptable in multiple forms; details of gift acceptance and procedures for gift recording may differ based on the type as described in this Policy. In general, organizational policies concerning restrictions imposed by donors are as follows:
- Unrestricted Gifts: The primary fundraising goal is to obtain unrestricted dollars to support Start Early’s mission and any special initiatives. Unrestricted gifts may be added to the annual budget to fund current operations to impact as many children in poverty as possible.
- Restricted Gifts: While Start Early is appreciative of gifts in all sizes, restricted gifts will only be accepted provided the following are met:
- The gift restriction is either for an existing program or a new program for which a demonstrated need exists.
- The gift parameters as restricted by the contributor are amenable to Start Early.
- The restriction does not have the potential of becoming administratively onerous or costly.
- The gift is in the amount of $25,000 or more, unless determined to be of mission-based importance as determined by Start Early.
Restricted gifts must include language that allows for applying the gift to other purposes if the designated purpose is no longer feasible. In addition, gifts will not be accepted if restrictions are purported to discriminate against any individual on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or national or ethnic origin.
These gifts include cash and cash equivalent securities, charitable IRA rollover and personal property.
- Cash and Cash Equivalents: Cash gifts of any amount are acceptable, except as otherwise prohibited in this Policy. Gifts of cash and equivalents may take the form of currency, check or credit card contribution. Cash or checks may be delivered in person, by mail, by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) or by wire transfer. For acknowledgement and recognition purposes, gifts will be considered public in nature except those gifts specifically designated by the donor as “anonymous.” Gifts are booked for internal purposes as follows:
- Checks mailed are booked by the deposit date.
- If gifts are transferred by EFT or wire, the date of the gift is the date the money is transferred into the bank account.
- c. When gifts are received by credit card, the date of the gift is the date the credit card charges are processed.
- Securities: Publicly traded securities (stocks, bonds, and mutual funds) are acceptable. Gifts of securities are valued at the average of the high and low quoted selling prices on the date the donor relinquished dominion and control of the assets in favor of Start Early. If the security was not traded on that date, Start Early will use the average valuation of the trading days immediately prior to and immediately after when the security was given. Neither losses nor gains realized by Start Early’s sale of the securities after their receipt, nor brokerage fees or other expenses associated with the transaction should affect the value reported to the donor.
- Charitable IRA Rollover Funds: Charitable IRA rollover funds are acceptable in accordance with IRS guidelines.
- Personal Property or Gifts-in-Kind*: Start Early may consider gifts of tangible personal property (gifts-in-kind) – including but not limited to works of art, literary works, motor vehicles, computer hardware and software, patents, and intellectual property – only after a review indicates that the property is either readily marketable or needed for use related to education, research, or another aspect of the mission. Gift property must have a clear and unencumbered title. Donated rent, items for sale/auction, and in-kind for federally funded programs are acceptable to the extent permitted by law. Any gift-in-kind that involves any of the following circumstances, must be approved by the Chief Financial Officer or Chief Operating Officer:
- Acceptance of the gift involves significant or unbudgeted additional expense for its present or future use or display, maintenance, transfer, insurance, fees, or other organizational costs.
- Financial or other burdensome technical, service obligation, or expense is or will be directly or indirectly incurred as a result of acceptance.
- Acceptance or subsequent utilization of the property would result in an “unrelated activity” as defined in unrelated business income tax law.
- Gifts of Services: Charitable deductions for gifts of service are not permitted by the IRS; however, Start Early may acknowledge and thank the donor for the services, without specifying a dollar amount or generating a receipt. For services that are 100% donated, a statement of fair value will be requested, which should include the value and type of the service and benefited program for internal recording purposes.
- Cryptocurrency: Gifts of cryptocurrency are not accepted.
- Animals: Gifts of horses, livestock, or farm animals are not accepted.
*Generally, gifts with a fair market value exceeding $5,000 will be receipted at the values placed on them by qualified independent appraisers as required by the IRS for valuing non-cash charitable contributions. It is the donor’s responsibility to order and pay for the qualified appraisal.
Endowed gifts are typically accepted with restrictions imposed upon the use of the investment earnings they generate. Usage restrictions and other terms of endowed gifts must be agreed between the donor(s) and Start Early and clearly documented in a gift agreement. Due to endowed funds’ perpetual nature, terms should be defined in a manner which will provide for their productive use both at the time of their establishment and far into the future, with the recognition that operating conditions and the course of business in later years may be quite different from those of the present.
Deferred gifts including charitable bequests, gifts of life insurance and retained life estates are acceptable. Where applicable, payout and terms will follow IRS guidelines.
Pledges and Matching Gifts
Commitments (pledges and conditional pledges) for future gifts along with matching gifts are acceptable. In addition, gifts from employees, memorial, and honorary gifts are welcomed.
Tax Receipting and Written Disclosure Statements
A receipt/acknowledgement is sent to each donor reflecting the amount or type of the gift and the value of any benefits received by the donor. To obtain a charitable contribution deduction for Federal income taxes, the IRS requires substantiation of any charitable contribution of $250 or more. Such written acknowledgement provided by Start Early will include: (1) name of organization, (2) amount of cash contribution, (3) description (but not value) of non-cash contribution, (4) statement that no goods or services were provided by the organization, if that is the case, and (5) description and good faith estimate of the value of goods or services, if any, that was provided in return for the contribution.
Confidentiality of Information
Donor Bill of Rights
Adopted 1964, Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Copyright AFP, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Philanthropy is based on voluntary action for the common good. It is a tradition of giving and sharing that is primary to the quality of life. To assure that philanthropy merits the respect and trust of the general public, and that donors and prospective donors can have full confidence in the not-for-profit organizations and causes they are asked to support, we declare that all donors have these rights:
- To be informed of the organization’s mission, of the way the organization intends to use donated resources, and of its capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes.
- To be informed of the identity of those serving on the organization’s governing board, and to expect the board to exercise prudent judgment in its stewardship responsibilities.
- To have access to the organization’s most recent financial statements.
- To be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.
- To receive appropriate acknowledgement and recognition.
- To be assured that information about their donation is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by law.
- To expect that all relationships with individuals representing organizations of interest to the donor will be professional in nature.
- To be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers, employees of the organization or hired solicitors.
- To have the opportunity for their names to be deleted from mailing lists that an organization may intend to share.
- To feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful and forthright answers.
- In-Kind Contributions Policy
IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions; IRS Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property
If you have questions regarding this Policy or would like access to the resources or references noted above, please contact Start Early at the below address or submit your request to Info@StartEarly.org.
Attn: Development Operations
33 W. Monroe Street
Chicago, IL 60603