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Gift Acceptance Policy

1. Introduction

First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Arlington (First Parish, the Congregation) solicits and accepts gifts to fund its activities and fulfill its mission. First Parish urges all prospective donors to seek the assistance of personal legal and financial advisors in matters relating to their gifts, including the resulting tax and estate planning consequences. The following policies and guidelines govern acceptance of gifts made to First Parish for the benefit of any of its operations, programs or services.

First Parish will not accept gifts that:

  1. would result in First Parish violating its articles of incorporation or applicable state or federal laws and/or regulations,
  2. would result in First Parish losing its status as a tax-exempt organization,
  3. are too difficult or too expensive to administer in relation to their value,
  4. would result in any unacceptable consequences for First Parish including harm to its reputation, or
  5. are for purposes outside First Parish’s mission.

Decisions on the acceptance or refusal of a gift in a form other than cash or marketable securities shall be made by the Parish Committee for gifts to the operating budget or special campaigns or by the Trustees for gifts to the endowment (Trust Funds).

2. Restricted and Unrestricted Gifts

First Parish encourages its donors to make unrestricted gifts to the Congregation. Unrestricted gifts provide First Parish the greatest flexibility to direct resources where they are most needed at any particular time. For that reason, unrestricted gifts are always preferred. First Parish accepts restricted gifts as follows:

  1. Purpose-Restricted Gifts: First Parish will accept gifts restricted as to the purpose for which they can be used when they support activities included in the annual budget or for purposes specified in a special campaign. The minimum amount for purpose restricted gifts is $10,000. Gifts for other purposes must be reviewed and approved by Parish Committee.
  2. Permanently Restricted Gifts: Gifts for the endowment will be invested with the Congregation’s other endowment funds and overseen by the Trustees. The minimum amount for purpose restricted gifts is $10,000, and such gifts must be reviewed and approved by the Trustees. Amounts will be paid out from the fund in accordance the donor’s restrictions, if any, and with Trust Funds spending policy, which may change from time to time. As with other gifts, the payout from the endowed fund may be unrestricted or purpose restricted.

3. Types of Gifts

A. Gifts of Cash

Cash is acceptable in any form. Checks shall be made payable to “First Parish UU of Arlington” and shall be delivered to the Office Manager in the First Parish administrative office.

B. Gifts of Securities

  1. Marketable securities may be transferred to the Congregation’s brokerage account which is managed by the Trustees. Contact the website or the Office Manager for specific instructions. All marketable securities for the operating budget or specific campaigns shall be sold upon receipt. First Parish will send the donor an acknowledgment of the gift valued on the day the securities are received.
  2. Securities for which there is no active market, which include not only debt and equity positions in non-publicly traded companies but also interests in LLPs and LLCs or other ownership forms, can be accepted subject to the approval of the Parish Committee, or by the Trustees for gifts to the endowment. Gifts must be reviewed prior to acceptance to determine that:
  • there are no restrictions on the security that would prevent First Parish from ultimately converting those assets to cash,
  • the security is marketable,
  • the security will not generate any undesirable tax or other financial consequences for the Congregation, and
  • the gift transaction does not involve tax or other financial planning in which First Parish would not wish to participate.
  • If potential problems arise on initial review of the security, further review and recommendation by an outside professional may be sought before making a final decision on acceptance of the gift. The final determination on the acceptance of closely held securities shall be made by the Parish Committee, or by the Trustees for gifts to the endowment, with the advice of legal counsel when necessary. Every effort will be made to sell non-marketable securities as quickly as possible. Valuation of the securities is the responsibility of the donor. However the church reserves the right to refuse the gift if it disagrees with the valuation or to request a second valuation.

C. Gifts of Real Estate

Gifts of real estate may include developed property, undeveloped property, or gifts subject to a prior life interest. Valuation of the gift is the responsibility of the donor. Prior to acceptance of real estate, First Parish shall require an initial environmental review of the property to ensure that the property has no environmental damage. In the event that the initial inspection reveals a potential problem, the Congregation shall retain a qualified inspection firm to conduct an environmental audit. The cost of the environmental audit shall generally be an expense of the donor. When appropriate, a title binder shall be obtained by First Parish prior to the acceptance of the real property gift. The cost of this title binder shall generally be an expense of the donor. Prior to acceptance of the real property, the gift shall be approved by the Parish Committee, or by the Trustees for gifts to the endowment. Criteria for acceptance of the property shall include:

  • Is the property useful for the purposes of the Congregation?
  • Is the property marketable?
  • Are there any restrictions, reservations, easements, or other limitations associated with the property?
  • Are there carrying costs, which may include insurance, property taxes, mortgages, or notes, associated with the property?
  • Does the environmental audit reflect that the property is not damaged?

D. Gifts of Tangible Property

All other gifts of tangible personal property shall be examined in light of the following criteria:

  • Does the property contribute to or further the mission of the Congregation?
  • Is the property marketable?
  • Are there any undue restrictions on the use, display, or sale of the property?
  • Are there any carrying costs for the property?

The final determination on the acceptance of other tangible property gifts shall be made by the Parish Committee for gifts in support of the annual budget or special campaigns or by the Trustees for gifts to the endowment. Unless otherwise agreed with the donor, the property will be sold as soon as practicable. Valuation of the gift is the responsibility of the donor.

E. Legacy Gifts

  1. Charitable gift annuities (CGA): First Parish encourages its supporters to consider charitable gift annuities during their lifetimes. The minimum for a CGA is $10,000. Such gifts can provide lifetime income, income tax deductions, and support to the Congregation. Donors interested in planned gifts should contact one of the Trustees for guidance.
  2. Other planned gifts: The acceptance of other planned gift instruments, such as Pooled Income Trusts, Charitable Remainder Trusts, and Charitable Lead Trusts are subject to the approval of the Parish Committee. Donors interested in making such gifts should contact one of the Trustees.
  3. Bequests: Donors and supporters of First Parish are encouraged to make bequests under their wills and trusts. Such bequests will not be recorded as gifts to the Congregation until such time as the gift is irrevocable. When the gift is irrevocable, but is not due until a future date, the present value of that gift may be recorded at the time the gift becomes irrevocable.
  4. Life Insurance Beneficiary Designations: Donors and supporters of First Parish are encouraged to name the Congregation as beneficiary or contingent beneficiary of their life insurance policies. Such designations shall not be recorded as gifts until such time as the gift is irrevocable. Where the gift is irrevocable, but is not due until a future date, the present value of that gift may be recorded at the time the gift becomes irrevocable.
  5. Life Insurance: First Parish must be named as both beneficiary and irrevocable owner of an insurance policy before a life insurance policy can be recorded as a gift. The gift is valued at its interpolated terminal reserve value, or cash surrender value, upon receipt. If the donor contributes future premium payments, First Parish will include the entire amount of the additional premium payment as a gift in the year that it is made. If the donor does not elect to continue to make gifts to cover premium payments on the life insurance policy, First Parish may continue to pay the premiums, convert the policy to paid-up insurance, or surrender the policy for its current cash value.

F. Other Gifts

Other more complicated and esoteric gifts – such as remainder interests in property; oil, gas and mineral interests; or bargain sales – may be accepted by First Parish, but only with the approval of the Parish Committee, or by the Trustees for gifts to the endowment. Consideration will be given to the time and costs involved in assessing and structuring the gift before accepting it.

4. Gift Valuations

First Parish shall follow accepted guidelines for income recognition and the valuation of gifts such as stock, real estate, personal property, and life insurance that require specific methods of valuation for the protection of both the donor and First Parish. In general, valuation of non-cash gifts for tax purposes is the responsibility of the donor.

5. Stewardship

First Parish will be responsible for good stewardship toward its donors by following these guidelines:

  1. All gifts will be acknowledged within the required, or otherwise reasonable, period of time.
  2. Gifts to First Parish and accompanying correspondence will be considered confidential information, with the exception of the publication of donor recognition lists. All donor requests for confidentiality will be honored except as may be required by law.
  3. Lists or data files including the names of donors or other personal information will not be sold or given by First Parish to other organizations.

6. Conflict of Interest

Those individuals who normally engage in the solicitation of gifts on behalf of First Parish 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 First Parish, nor should any benefit be received by a family member or business of the solicitor. The active participation of the minister and First Parish staff in stewardship activities is not considered a conflict of interest.

Note of acknowledgment: This policy is largely based on a policy shared by First Parish Needham.

—Adopted by the Parish Committee March 18, 2013

630 MASSACHUSETTS AVENUE   ♦   ARLINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS 02476   ♦   781-648-3799

Copyright 2017 First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Arlington

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