Frustrated by supporters who want to restrict their gifts? Maybe it’s time to rewrite your Gift Acceptance Policy so it can open a world of opportunity.

Across the Internet, we can find all kinds of essays about why it’s important to have a Gift Acceptance Policy. And most of them point you to pretty standard templates. But instead of thinking of how the policies can limit your liability, what if your Gift Acceptance Policy opened up opportunities?

Taking a cue from Creating the Future, let’s start by asking how a gift acceptance policy can support your mission, vision and values.

Looking around at your community, you see clients, staff, board members, and supporters. What should the gifts acceptance policy do for each of them? For your clients, you want to have the maximum amount of flexibility so you can serve them in whatever way is necessary. You want your staff to have clarity as to what they should do when offered a gift.  You want your board to know that the resources you receive are used appropriately and transparently.

And you want your supporters to know that the resources they are giving you – their gifts – are truly making a difference.

In a spirited online conversation among nonprofit consultants, we debated what to do about restricted gifts. How do we handle gifts that are designated for a specific program, but may not take into account administrative costs? That’s when Hildy Gottlieb produced a policy that is brilliant in its simplicity. Without tying anyone’s hands, the policy says to the donor – Thank you for caring about the people we serve. Thank you for using us as a way to help them. Let’s work together to figure out the best way that your funds can help.

“When we have the opportunity to receive restricted gifts, it is our policy to work with each donor to co-create the best possible result of improving life for the people we serve.

“As part of that policy, we will learn both the immediate thing / service the donor wants their gift to purchase, as well as understanding what the donor hopes that gift will make possible for the people we serve.

“As part of that policy, we will work with the donor to co-create how their intended results will be achieved, and the true allocation of resources for achieving that result – how their monies will be used, as well as how other resources will be leveraged to achieve that result.

“This policy of co-creating results is rooted in our core values of trust, transparency, and building deep relationships, because that is what builds strong communities.”

As John Baker, CFRE, Executive VP of Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement, commented, “I bet their gifts will soar. Simply being able to promote a policy like this in ones materials, and then to live it, leaves me with a reenergized sense for Resource Development.”

What does your gift policy say? Are you inviting your supporters to co-create your future?