Gift compliance and the “yes, we do that” advantage

When a request comes to your team to enable a giving arrangement that seems a bit exotic, is your response “Yes, we do that!” or is it “Uhhhh – is that legal?” Are you ready with a mechanism to make a business transaction happen, or will it take six months to wend its way through Legal and Finance because it’s something you’ve never done before?

Changes in tax regulation, succession in donors’ family businesses, financial and estate planning … these events open up opportunities to work with donors with ability to make significant gifts, if we’re ready. A charity sophisticated enough to work with donors and their advisors on creative giving strategies will attract money for their mission before it flees elsewhere.

It’s great if you’ve had the experience of taking six months to enable a novel gift arrangement. You’ve learned something new, and the next time will be that much easier. But can we get out ahead of some of these opportunities?

There’s an element of competitive advantage: You want to be known in your donor community as a charity that can do things, and do them quickly.

This is not about fundraisers promising donors the moon and then politicking it through gift administration and compliance. (Which can work but is just as likely to lead to frustration, embarrassment, or worse.) It’s actually the opposite: It’s about developing the processes and mechanisms now in order to make those infrequent but high-value complex gifts possible later.

Development naturally leads the way in this area, and Operations is the key partner. But we can be proactive as well. Staff in gift administration and compliance can explore emerging approaches to enable future opportunities, working with internal and external experts in legal and finance.

New ways come with new risks. Taking the initiative gives us the luxury of time to deal with them.

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