Approved by Council in August 2018
This policy of the American Sociological Association (ASA) governs the solicitation and acceptance of gifts. The provisions in this policy apply to all gifts received by ASA. ASA’s Council reserves the right to revise or revoke this Policy at any time, and to make exceptions to the Policy.
The purposes of the policy are to provide guidance for the Council, staff, and members with respect to their responsibilities concerning gifts to ASA, and guidance to prospective donors and their professional advisors when making gifts to ASA.
The mission of the American Sociological Association is serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions and use of sociology to society. ASA is exempt from federal income tax under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and gifts to ASA are deductible charitable contributions, to the extent permitted under §170 of the Code.
This policy supersedes all previously adopted policies or portions of policies that address solicitation or gift acceptance by ASA.
1. Overarching Provisions
ASA may seek and accept charitable donations. The purpose of all gifts shall be to further the mission of ASA.
ASA will accept unrestricted gifts paid by cash, check (made payable to ASA), and credit card.
The policies below addressing non-cash gifts apply regardless of the form of the gift. For example, when a donor proposes to fund a charitable remainder trust with non-publicly traded securities, the policy addressing acceptance of non-publicly-traded securities governs.
ASA shall not accept gifts that:
- Violate the terms of the ASA’s Gift Acceptance Policy (unless an exception is approved by the Council);
- Jeopardize the ASA’s status as a tax-exempt organization under federal or state law;
- Are too difficult or expensive to administer;
- Are for purposes that do not further the ASA’s objectives; or
- Could damage the reputation of the ASA.
ASA has the right to decline any gift for any reason.
2. Considerations for Specific Forms of Gifts
ASA will accept gifts of publicly-traded securities. Publicly-traded securities may be transferred to an account maintained by ASA at one or more brokerage firms or delivered physically with the transferor’s signature or stock power attached. Publicly-traded securities shall normally be sold as soon as practical following receipt. In some cases, marketable securities may be restricted by applicable securities laws. In such cases, ASA shall determine whether to accept the restricted securities.
Securities that are not publicly-traded shall be sold as quickly as possible. Decisions about whether to accept closely-held securities, including debt and equity positions in non-publicly traded companies, interests in LLPs and LLCs, or other ownership forms, shall be based in part on the following factors:
- Restrictions on the security that would prevent ASA from ultimately converting the securities to cash;
- The marketability of the securities; and
- Any undesirable consequences for ASA from accepting the securities.
The Council must approve acceptance of any non-publicly-traded securities.
Retirement Plan Beneficiary Designations
ASA may accept designations as beneficiary of donors’ retirement plans. A designation will not be recorded as a gift until the gift is irrevocable. When the gift is irrevocable, the gift will be recorded in accordance with GAAP.
Donors may make bequests to ASA under their wills and trusts. A bequest will not be recorded as a gift until the gift is irrevocable. When the gift is irrevocable, it will be recorded in accordance with GAAP.
Donors should be advised that over the many years following the promise of a future gift, the needs, policies, and circumstances of ASA could change in unforeseen ways. ASA’s administration must have the flexibility to make use of funds in the best interest of the organization in accord with donor interests and specifications. Thus, donors are advised to describe the specific purposes of their gifts as broadly as possible and to avoid detailed limitations and restrictions.
In order to expedite Estate distributions, provisions in the donor’s will or trust agreements should include the statement: “I give, devise, bequeath [assets/percent share of the residue of my estate] to the American Sociological Association, with its principal office at 1430 K Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20005; Tax ID 13-5626343.”
If a bequest is subject to conditions or restrictions that violate this policy, ASA will disclaim the gift in accordance with applicable law.
Donors may name the ASA as beneficiary or contingent beneficiary of their life insurance policies. A designation will not be recorded as a gift until the gift is irrevocable. When the gift is irrevocable, the gift shall be recorded in accordance with GAAP.
ASA will accept ownership of funded life insurance policies. Unless the donor also funds the premiums, ASA will ordinarily surrender the policy for its cash value.
Gifts of real estate may include developed property, undeveloped property, or gifts subject to a prior life interest. A title binder shall be obtained by ASA prior to the acceptance of the real property gift when appropriate. The cost of this title binder will be at the expense of the donor.
The general policy on gifts of real property is to liquidate in a reasonable period of time to avoid liability on ASA assets. Decisions about whether to accept gifts of real estate shall be made by the Council, based in part on the following factors:
- Any concerns which an environmental audit reveals—prior to acceptance of real estate, ASA shall require a Phase I environmental review of the property to attempt to ensure that the property has no environmental problem. If the initial inspection reveals a potential problem, ASA shall retain a qualified inspection firm to conduct an environmental audit. The cost of the audit shall be at the expense of the donor.
- Whether the property is useful for the purposes of ASA and promotion of the mission;
- The marketability of the property;
- Any encumbrances, leases, restrictions, reservations, easements, or other limitations associated with the property;
- Any carrying costs associated with the property, including insurance, property taxes, mortgages, notes or other costs; and
- Restriction by the donor to keep and maintain the property, putting undue cost on ASA—ASA will accept a remainder interest in a personal residence, farm, or vacation property subject to the provisions above, allowing the donor or other occupants to continue to occupy the real property for the duration of the stated life. At the death of the life tenant(s), ASA may use the property or reduce it to cash. Expenses for maintenance, real estate taxes, and any property indebtedness shall be paid by the donor or primary beneficiary.
Tangible Personal Property
Decisions about whether to accept gifts of tangible personal property shall be based in part on the following factors:
- Whether the property furthers the mission of ASA;
- The marketability of the property;
- The restrictions on the use, display, or sale of the property; and
- Carrying costs and possible liability for the property
Charitable Remainder Trusts
ASA may accept designations as remainder beneficiary of a charitable remainder trust. ASA will not accept appointment as trustee of a charitable remainder trust.
Charitable Lead Trusts
ASA may accept designations as income beneficiary of a charitable lead trust. ASA will not accept an appointment as trustee of a charitable lead trust.
Charitable Gift Annuities
ASA does not accept Charitable Gift Annuities.
ASA will not accept Non-Standard Gifts without specific approval by the Council. For this purpose, “Non-Standard Gifts” are non-cash gifts (1) that are not reasonably expected to be used to satisfy or further ASA’s exempt purposes (aside from ASA’s sale, rental, or licensing of the property to produce income); (2) for which there is no ready market in which to sell the item; and (3) the value of the item is highly speculative or difficult to ascertain.
3. Suspicious Transactions
Unfortunately, because of the tax benefits associated with contributions of appreciated non-cash property to charities, donors or prospective donors occasionally would like to give property to ASA and claim a deduction on account of the contribution in an amount greater than that permitted by the Internal Revenue Code. Other donors may simply be attempting to dispose of an “albatross” that may be costly to ASA. Staff should be alert to indicators of potentially suspicious transactions, including situations in which the donor is unwilling to provide full and complete information about the nature, condition, or value of the property, or in the case of securities that are not publicly traded, the business and assets of the entity in question.
When appropriate, staff should ask the donor for a copy of the most recent appraisal (if any) of the property.
4. Tax Deductions
- The donor is responsible for substantiating the amount claimed as a deduction for federal and state income, gift, and estate tax purposes. This includes, when necessary, timely obtaining a “qualified appraisal.” See IRS Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property.
- ASA will assist the donor by providing reasonable assistance and information and, when required, signing an appropriately completed IRS Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions.
- ASA will provide each donor with a written receipt or other acknowledgement of the donor’s gift that complies with the then-existing requirements of the Internal Revenue Code and regulations regarding substantiation of charitable contributions.
- In acknowledging the receipt of any noncash gift, ASA will accurately describe the property and any restrictions to which the property is subject, and will not indicate any monetary value attributable to the gift.
- When required, ASA will timely file IRS Form 8282, Donee Information Return, to report the sale or other disposition of certain property within three years after its receipt.
5. Additional Provisions
- Gift Agreements—Any gift of $5,000 or more with restrictions shall require a written gift agreement with the donor.
- Pledge Agreements—Acceptance by ASA of pledges by donors for future support shall be contingent upon the execution and fulfillment of a written charitable pledge agreement specifying the terms of the pledge.
- Fees—ASA will not accept a gift unless the donor is responsible for (1) the fees of independent legal counsel retained by donor for completing the gift; (2) appraisal fees; (3) environmental audits and title binders; and (4) all other third-party fees associated with the transfer of the gift to ASA.
- Donors may not determine investment strategy for donated funds.
- Restricted Donations—Restricted gifts for activities that are already underway will generally be accepted. Restricted donations for new activities of less than $5,000 may be accepted by the Executive Director, provided that the activity aligns with the mission of the ASA and does not require additional resources in order to achieve the intended outcome. Restricted donations for new activities of >$5,000 must be approved by ASA Council.
- Named funds require a minimum contribution of $25,000. The Council will set standards for organization-wide naming opportunities and other forms of donor recognition and must approve named funds. Naming agreements shall be in writing, and shall reserve ASA’s right to change the name if ASA’s continued public association with the named person would be likely to damage ASA’s reputation or its ability to accomplish its purposes.
6. Fundraising Authority
To ensure that all fundraising efforts on behalf of ASA conform with legal, financial, and other external requirements as well as the priorities of ASA’s mission:
No section, other subgroup of ASA, or individual member may engage in any development activities without prior approval.
The Executive Director may grant approval to solicit funds of $5,000 or less from a company or organization. For solicitations of more than $5,000 from a company or organization, approval must be granted by the President or Secretary-Treasurer.
The Executive Director may grant approval to solicit funds from individuals for an event or project requiring a campaign of $5,000 or less. For events or projects requiring more than $5,000 of combined individual contributions, approval must be granted by the President or Secretary-Treasurer.
If a section, other subgroup of ASA, or individual member is given approval to engage in a development activity, this policy and a standard set of requirements for implementation will be followed.
Although section-solicited named funds may not require a minimum contribution, naming agreements shall be in writing, and shall reserve ASA’s right to change the name if ASA’s continued public association with the named person would be likely to damage ASA’s reputation or its ability to accomplish it purposes.
Restricted section funds >$20,000 will be placed in an investment subaccount of the association.
If a section, other subgroup of ASA, or individual member is offered funds for an ASA-related activity by an individual or an organization without any solicitations, the Executive Director must give approval before the funds can be received. Approval will be based on adherence to the ASA Gift Acceptance Policy. No section, other subgroup of ASA, or individual member may accept a gift for the section or subgroup of ASA without adhering to this ASA Gift Acceptance Policy.
7. Implementation of this policy
The Executive Director is responsible for implementing this policy. The Executive Director will bring the following decisions to the Council for review:
- Acceptance of gifts of real estate;
- Acceptance of gifts of tangible personal property of over $20,000;
- Acceptance of restricted gifts of over $5,000 for new activities;
- Acceptance of gifts of over $5,000 that are ambiguous with respect to conformity with this policy;
- Acceptance of gifts that are exceptions to this policy;
- Anything else at the Executive Director’s discretion.
ASA shall seek the advice of legal counsel in matters relating to acceptance of gifts when appropriate.
ASA encourages prospective donors to seek the assistance of their own legal and financial advisors in matters relating to their gifts and the resulting tax and estate planning consequences.
Any questions regarding the interpretation or application of this policy to any particular gift should be directed to the ASA Executive Director.