Gifts In Kind: Maximizing Philanthropy Through Non-Monetary Donations

Gifts in kind are donations of goods and services rather than cash, offered to nonprofit organizations for their use or direct distribution to their beneficiaries. These non-monetary contributions can range from office equipment and supplies to services like printing or advertising, and even real estate. By donating goods and services, businesses and individuals not only provide immediate aid to charitable organizations, but they also may benefit from tax deductions, subject to the regulations of their jurisdiction.

Nonprofit organizations play a significant role in society by addressing various social, educational, and health-related issues. The reception of gifts in kind can substantially aid these organizations by allowing them to allocate their financial resources to other vital areas of their operations. For example, a donated venue for a charity event can save the organization significant funds and enable a larger portion of the raised funds to support their cause directly.

Charitable giving is a fundamental aspect of many cultures and economies, and gifts in kind represent a practical and impactful method of supporting nonprofit organizations. Beyond the financial relief they offer, these contributions often enhance the connection between the donor and the cause, fostering a deeper sense of community involvement and commitment to social good.

Types of In-Kind Gifts

In-kind gifts are non-monetary donations that organizations receive from donors. These contributions are vital resources and come in various forms, such as tangible and intangible properties, as well as services.

Tangible Property

Tangible property refers to physical items that can be touched and moved. Examples of in-kind gifts in this category include:

  • Goods: These range from food and clothing to furniture and equipment. They can be new or used, as long as they are in good condition. Category Examples Art Paintings, sculptures Equipment Medical devices, laboratory equipment Materials Construction supplies, educational materials Clothing Apparel, shoes Furniture Desks, chairs, bookshelves
  • Land: Donations of real estate, such as plots of land, can be particularly valuable, often providing a space for the organization’s operations or an asset to be sold for funding.
  • Computer Hardware: Items such as servers, computers, and peripherals are often needed by organizations to modernize their operations.

Intangible Property

Intangible property encompasses items that do not have a physical form but hold value. In-kind contributions in this area typically include:

  • Software: Licensed programs that can help a non-profit manage its operations more efficiently or provide services to its beneficiaries.
  • Patents: Companies may donate the use of technologies protected by patents, allowing non-profit organizations access to tools or processes that they would otherwise be unable to afford.
  • Copyrights: The rights to use creative works like music, literature, or software are often given to aid educational or promotional efforts.


Services as in-kind contributions are non-physical and involve the donation of professional expertise or time:

  • Professional Services: Skilled individuals may offer their expertise in areas such as legal counsel, accounting, or medical services. These individuals do not charge for their time, providing high-value resources to organizations. Field Service Examples Legal Consultation, representation Medical Health check-ups, surgeries Administrative Accounting services, strategic planning
  • Volunteer Services: Many organizations rely on the time and skills of volunteers for various tasks, from administrative help to on-the-ground support for program implementation.

Valuation of In-Kind Gifts

The process of valuing in-kind gifts is critical for both donors and recipients. It influences financial reporting and tax responsibilities. Accurate valuation ensures compliance with legal and financial standards.

Fair Market Value

Fair Market Value (FMV) is the price that the property would sell for on the open market. When assessing FMV, one must consider the item’s condition, any restrictions on use, and the time of valuation—typically the date of donation.

Valuation Techniques

Several valuation techniques can be applied depending on the nature of the in-kind gift:

  • Comparable Sales: Prices of similar items sold in comparable markets.
  • Replacement Cost: The cost to acquire an identical item at current prices.
  • Appraisal: Professional valuation services, especially for unique or high-value items.

These approaches ensure that the recorded market value on financial statements accurately reflects the worth of in-kind contributions.

Tax Implications

The valuation of in-kind gifts holds significant tax implications:

  • Donors may claim a tax deduction based on the FMV of the contribution.
  • Receiving organizations must report in-kind contributions on their financial statements which can affect their tax-exempt status if not reported accurately.

Therefore, precise valuation techniques are essential to satisfy both donors’ needs for tax deductions and organizations’ compliance with IRS regulations regarding charitable contributions.

Accounting for In-Kind Contributions

When a nonprofit organization receives gifts in kind, they must accurately account for these donations to reflect their true contribution to the organization. An organization’s reputation for transparency and accountability can significantly depend on the accuracy and clarity of these transactions in their financial statements.

Recognizing In-Kind Contributions

Gifts in kind can include nonfinancial assets such as goods or services, and they must be recognized if they provide value to the organization or represent savings in expenses. An organization should assess if the received asset or service enhances its ability to provide services, manage the organization, or raise funds. If the contributed services involve specialized skills and are generally compensated, organizations should record them at their fair market value.

Recording of Financial Statements

In-kind contributions should be recognized as revenue in the financial statements at their fair value. Financial assets should be accounted for as follows:

  • Goods: Recorded as a debit to the appropriate asset account and a credit to in-kind contributions revenue.
  • Services: If they require specialized skill and would be purchased if not donated, record a debit to the expense or asset account that the service would normally be applied to, and a credit to in-kind contributions revenue.
Type of AssetDebitCredit
Nonfinancial (Goods)Asset account (fair value)In-kind contributions revenue
Nonfinancial (Services)Expense or asset account (fair value)In-kind contributions revenue

Disclosure Requirements

For reporting purposes, organizations should disclose their policy for recognizing in-kind contributions and provide a description and fair value of such donations. Additionally, they must outline the methods used to determine fair value. Separate disclosures for different types of in-kind contributions assist in providing clarity to stakeholders.

In summary, thorough and clear accounting for in-kind contributions is critical, not only to meet regulatory and accounting standards but also to convey the full scope of an organization’s resources and operational support.

Legal and Policy Considerations

When dealing with gifts in kind, organizations must navigate a complex landscape of legal frameworks and internal policies. These regulations and guidelines ensure the transparent and ethical management of donations.

Gift Acceptance Policy

Organizations often establish a gift acceptance policy to outline the types of donations they will accept and under what conditions. Policies typically address factors such as the organization’s mission alignment with the donation, potential conflicts of interest, and the donor’s restrictions on the use of the gift.

  1. Mission Alignment: Donations must support the organization’s objectives and not diverge from its established goals.
  2. Conflicts of Interest: Policies aim to prevent any conflicts that could damage the organization’s integrity or public image.
  3. Donor Restrictions: Organizations must consider and decide how to handle donor-imposed conditions on donations.

Legal Restrictions

Legal considerations are paramount when accepting gifts in kind. They may include tax implications, transfer of ownership documents, and adherence to government regulations regarding charitable donations.

  • Tax Implications: Both donors and organizations must understand the potential tax benefits and responsibilities associated with the donation.
  • Transfer of Ownership: Legal documents are crucial to record the transfer and protect all parties involved.
  • Government Regulations: Charities are required to comply with national and local laws that govern the acceptance and use of donations.

Use of Donated Items

Once an organization accepts a gift in kind, its use is often subject to certain conditions and restrictions. They must have policies and procedures in place to ensure that the use of donated items aligns with the donor’s intentions and the organization’s mission. The use of facilities for housing or displaying donated items must also comply with these policies.

  • Adherence to Donor Conditions: This ensures that the organization honors the donor’s specified conditions for the gift’s use.
  • Organizational Alignment: The use of the donation needs to advance the organization’s mission and services directly.

By meticulously following legal restrictions and internal policies regarding the acceptance and use of gifts in kind, organizations can maintain accountability, public trust, and compliance with laws and best practices.

Tax Reporting and Documentation

In order to comply with IRS regulations, organizations must accurately report the receipt and distribution of gifts in kind. Proper documentation is crucial for both tax reporting purposes and to ensure the integrity of the organization’s financial records.

Form 990

Nonprofit organizations are required to file Form 990, which provides the IRS with annual financial information. Specific details about non-cash contributions, including gifts in kind, must be reported on Schedule M (Form 990). This form requires the organization’s Tax ID Number and a detailed list of different types of non-cash contributions.

  • Section B, Line 29: Gifts in kind are reported under this section. Each item or group of similar items must be listed if the value exceeds $5,000.

Schedule M

Schedule M is attached to Form 990 for organizations that receive non-cash contributions over a certain threshold. It lists the types of property received and requires the organization to provide a description and the estimated value of each item.

  • Asset Categories: Schedule M has various categories for assets, and each gift in kind must be recorded in the appropriate category.

Acknowledgment Letters

Charitable organizations must provide an acknowledgment letter to the donor for any gift in kind received. This letter serves as a receipt for the donor’s tax records and must include:

  • The organization’s name and Tax ID Number.
  • A description of the in-kind contribution (without a value).

Note for Donors: Donors must keep the acknowledgment letter for records and may need to file a Form 8283 if the value of non-cash contributions exceeds $500.

Managing In-Kind Donations

Effective management of in-kind donations is crucial to maximize their benefit. This involves the systematic handling of goods, from storage to eventual distribution or utilization in fundraising activities.

Storage and Distribution

Organizations must maintain a detailed inventory system for In-Kind Donations to ensure efficient Storage and Distribution. Essential considerations include:

  • Cataloging Items: Each item should be logged with specifics such as type, quantity, and condition to keep track of the inventory.
  • Storage Space: Adequate space that is secure and climate-controlled preserves the quality of donations.
  • Distribution Channels: Establishing partnerships with Thrift Stores and Community Closets helps in the effective disbursal of goods to those in need.

Fundraising and Auctions

In-Kind Donations can significantly support Fundraising efforts through Auctions. Organizations should:

  • Identify Valuable Items: Careful selection of items for auctions ensures higher fundraising potential.
  • Transparent Valuation: Clarity about the item’s worth promotes trust during the auction.

In-Kind Donations thus not only serve immediate community needs but also play a pivotal role in sustaining charitable organizations through thoughtful management.

Communication and Promotion

Effective communication and targeted promotion are critical in the context of Gifts In Kind. They ensure that the message reaches the right audience and acknowledges the donors’ generosity.

Social Media Engagement

A strategic Social Media plan is essential in promoting Gifts In Kind. Organizations must:

  1. Utilize the expertise of a social media manager to craft campaigns that highlight in-kind contributions.
  2. Share stories and updates about the utilization of these gifts to actively engage with your followers.

By doing so, they raise public awareness and can drive further contributions.

Donor Recognition

Implementing Donor Recognition programs is a strategic move that encourages continued support. Organizations should:

  • Publicly acknowledge donors through social media shout-outs and appreciation posts.
  • Provide Professional Services as a form of public relations, helping donors leverage their philanthropy in their marketing efforts.

This approach not only incentivizes further donations but also strengthens the relationship with current contributors.

Case Studies and Examples

Gifts in kind play a significant role in fostering partnerships between businesses and charitable organizations, offering tangible benefits to both parties. These collaborations illustrate practical applications of goods and services donations in the nonprofit sector.

Successful Campaigns

In 2020, a major retail company launched a campaign where they donated excess inventory, including clothing and home goods, to several nonprofits that aid the homeless. The donation not only cleared warehouse space but also provided essential items for individuals in need. This partnership showcased how in-kind gifts can lead to successful outcomes when aligned with a nonprofit’s mission.

Tech for Good, a program initiated by a well-known technology firm, illuminates another successful case where a corporation provided hardware and software to educational charities. This contributed to bridging the digital divide, demonstrating the high impact of in-kind gifts in both goods and services.

OrganizationType of In-Kind GiftBeneficiary Outcome
Major Retail CompanyClothing, Home GoodsSupported homeless individuals’ needs
Technology Firm (Tech for Good)Hardware, SoftwareImproved educational resources

Lessons Learned

A comprehensive study of various campaigns underscores vital lessons drawn from the distribution of in-kind gifts. One nonprofit focused on disaster relief found that coordinating logistics with businesses ahead of natural disasters ensured a prompt response when crises occurred. The pre-planning allowed for an efficient utilization of donated goods.

Conversely, a charitable organization aiming to support small businesses learned that overly specific donations could become burdensome. They noted the importance of aligning in-kind gifts with the actual needs of the recipients, emphasizing the need for clear communication between businesses and nonprofits to enhance the effectiveness of donated goods and services.

Case StudyLesson
Disaster Relief NonprofitPre-planning logistics enhances response efficiency
Small Business Support CharityEnsure alignment of gifts with recipient needs


Gifts in Kind (GIK) are an integral part of many nonprofit entities’ operations and their accounting practices. According to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), these non-cash donations require specific attention to ensure their proper representation within an organization’s financial statements. The oversight offered by recent Accounting Standards Updates (ASU) compels nonprofits to provide a more transparent and detailed account of such contributions.

For fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2021, nonprofits must adhere to updated guidelines that dictate the presentation of GIK within their financial documents. These standards necessitate that nonprofits distinctly report these items within their statement of activities. The representation must not only quantify the GIK but also describe them in narrative form to give stakeholders a clear understanding of their nature and utility.

Main Points:

  • Nonprofit entities must accurately report Gifts in Kind.
  • The FASB’s ASU outlines how to present GIK in financial statements.
  • Nonprofits should include both quantitative and qualitative details.

Reflective Actions:

  1. Ensure compliance with FASB guidelines.
  2. Publish a clear statement of GIK in financial records starting with the relevant fiscal years.
  3. Provide a narrative explanation alongside the numerical value of donated goods and services.

Following the FASB’s mandate ensures that Gifts in Kind are not only acknowledged but are also depicted in a manner that upholds the transparency and reliability of the nonprofit’s financial reporting.