Gift Acceptance Policy

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Woodwell Climate Research Center solicits and accepts gifts that will help the organization further and fulfill its mission, and support its programs and operations.

The mission of the Woodwell Climate Research Center is to conduct science for solutions at the nexus of climate, people and nature. We partner with leaders and communities for just, meaningful impact to address the climate crisis.

The Board of Directors of Woodwell Climate has approved the following policies and guidelines that govern acceptance of gifts made to Woodwell Climate for the benefit of any of its operations, programs or services, and provide guidance to donors and their advisors when making gifts to Woodwell Climate. All prospective donors are urged by Woodwell Climate to seek the assistance of legal and financial advisors in matters relating to their gifts, including the resulting tax and estate planning consequences.

Gift Acceptance Committee

The Gift Acceptance Committee (GAC), as referred to in this Gift Acceptance Policy, will consist at a minimum of the President of Woodwell Climate, the Chairs of the Board’s Development Committee and Strategic Initiatives Committee, and the Chief Philanthropic Officer. The Chief Financial Officer will serve the GAC in an ex officio capacity. Members of the GAC may consult a Board member, staff member, or outside expert as deemed advisable in a specific situation.


Woodwell Climate encourages donors to designate Bequests and Beneficiary Designations under Trusts, Life Insurance Policies, Annuities and Retirement Plans to Woodwell Climate’s General Endowment Fund in order to support the long-term future of the organization. Gifts of this nature that are received without a specific designation will be allocated to a Board-Designated Endowment Fund.

Use of Legal Counsel

Woodwell Climate Research Center shall seek the advice of legal counsel in matters relating to acceptance of gifts where appropriate. Review by legal counsel is recommended for:

  1. Closely held stock transfers that are subject to restrictions on the security(ies) or buy-sell agreements
  2. Documents naming Woodwell Climate as trustee or requiring Woodwell Climate to act in any fiduciary capacity
  3. Gifts involving contracts such as bargain sales, or other documents requiring Woodwell Climate to assume financial or other obligations
  4. Transactions with potential conflicts of interest
  5. Gifts of property that may be subject to environmental or other regulatory restrictions
  6. Other instances in which use of counsel is deemed appropriate by the GAC.

General Policy

Woodwell Climate Research Center will not accept gifts that:

  1. Violate the terms of Woodwell Climate’s organizational documents
  2. Jeopardize Woodwell Climate’s status as an exempt organization under federal or state law
  3. Are too difficult or expensive to administer
  4. Are for purposes that do not further Woodwell Climate’s objectives
  5. Could damage the reputation of Woodwell Climate

Policy Regarding Specific Types of Gifts

  1. Gifts Generally Accepted Without Review
    1. Cash. Unrestricted gifts of cash are accepted in any form. Donations of cryptocurrency must be processed through a third party that will promptly sell and transfer the proceeds to Woodwell Climate in U.S. dollars.
    2. Marketable Securities. Unrestricted marketable securities may be transferred to an account maintained by Woodwell Climate at Gage-Wiley Inc. or delivered physically with the transferor’s signature or stock power attached. All marketable securities will normally be sold promptly upon receipt unless otherwise directed by the Gift Acceptance Committee (GAC).
    3. Bequests and Beneficiary Designations under Revocable Trusts and Retirement Plans. Donors are encouraged to make bequests to Woodwell Climate under their wills, and to name Woodwell Climate as a beneficiary under trusts and retirement plans. Woodwell Climate may accept the designation of beneficiary but such bequests and beneficiary designations shall not be recorded as gifts until the gift is irrevocable. When the gift is irrevocable, it shall be recorded in accordance with GAAP.
    4. Charitable Remainder Trusts. Woodwell Climate will accept designation as remainder beneficiary of a charitable remainder trust. Woodwell Climate will not accept appointment as trustee of a charitable remainder trust. Donors who create externally managed and trusteed trusts will be asked to provide Woodwell Climate with a copy of the trust document and annual investment reports for record-keeping purposes.
    5. Charitable Lead Trusts. Woodwell Climate will accept designation as income beneficiary of a charitable lead trust. Woodwell Climate will not accept appointment as trustee of a charitable lead trust. Donors who create externally managed and trusteed trusts will be asked to provide Woodwell Climate with a copy of the trust document and annual investment reports for record-keeping purposes.
    6. Anonymous Gifts. Woodwell Climate will accept anonymous gifts but prefers to know the identity of all donors. The Chief Philanthropy Officer may request any anonymous gift be approved by the GAC at his or her sole discretion. Woodwell Climate reserves the right to return the donation of any anonymous donor should it learn of their identity and determine there is a risk of damage to the organization’s reputation by virtue of the association.
  2. Gifts Subject to Review Prior to Acceptance
    Certain types of gifts or donated properties must be reviewed by the Gift Acceptance Committee prior to acceptance. All final decisions on the acceptance or refusal of a gift shall be made by this committee. Gifts subject to prior review include, but are not limited to:

    1. Tangible Personal Property. The GAC shall review and decide whether to accept gifts of tangible personal property based on the following considerations:
      • Whether the property furthers the mission of Woodwell Climate
      • Marketability of the property
      • Restrictions on the use, display, or sale of the property
      • Carrying costs and possible liability for the property
    2. Closely-Held Securities. Closely-held securities, including debt and equity positions in non-publicly traded companies, interests in LLPs and LLCs, or other ownership forms shall be reviewed and a decision made based on the following factors:
      • Restrictions on the security that would prevent Woodwell Climate from ultimately converting the securities to cash
      • Marketability of the securities
      • Any undesirable consequences for Woodwell Climate from accepting the securities
    3. Life Insurance. Woodwell Climate will accept designations as beneficiary and owner of a life insurance policy. The life insurance policy will be recorded as a gift once Woodwell Climate is named both beneficiary and irrevocable owner of the policy. The donor must agree to pay, before due, any future premium payments owing on the policy. The gift shall be valued in accordance with GAAP.
    4. Charitable Gift Annuities. Woodwell Climate may offer charitable gift annuities. The minimum gift for funding is $25,000. The minimum age for life income beneficiaries of a gift annuity shall be 60. Where a deferred gift annuity is offered, the minimum age for life income beneficiaries will be 60. No more than two life income beneficiaries will be permitted for any gift annuity. The GAC may make exceptions to these minimums. Woodwell Climate follows the American Council on Gift Annuities suggested rates.
      • Payment Schedule. Annuity payments may be made on a quarterly, semi-annual, or annual schedule. The Gift Acceptance Committee may approve exceptions to this schedule.
      • Illiquid Assets. Woodwell Climate will not accept real estate, tangible personal property, or any other illiquid asset in exchange for current charitable gift annuities. Woodwell Climate may accept real estate, tangible personal property, or other illiquid assets in exchange for deferred gift annuities if there is at least a five (5) year period before the commencement of the annuity payment date, the value of the property is reasonably certain, and the GAC approves the arrangement.
    5. Real Estate. All gifts of real estate are subject to review by the GAC. Prior to the acceptance of any gift of real estate, Woodwell Climate shall require an initial environmental review, inspection, and/or title search by a qualified professional as determined by the committee. In the event the initial review reveals a potential problem, Woodwell Climate may discuss or negotiate the costs of amelioration and repairs with the donor. Criteria for acceptance of gifts of real estate include:
      • Whether the property is useful for the purposes of Woodwell Climate
      • Marketability of the property
      • Any encumbrances, leases, restrictions, easements, or other limitations associated with the property
      • Any carrying costs associated with the property such as insurance, property taxes, mortgages, notes, or other costs
      • Any concerns that the environmental audit, inspection, or title search revealed
    6. Remainder Interests in Property. Woodwell Climate will accept a remainder interest in a personal residence, farm, or vacation property. The donor or other occupants may continue to occupy the real property for the duration of the stated life. At the death of the life tenant(s), Woodwell Climate 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. The remainder interest will not be recorded as a gift until the gift is irrevocable and then will be recorded in accordance with GAAP.
    7. Corporate gifts: sponsorships, grants and donations. The guiding principles and goals for acceptance of corporate gifts is that the:
      • support the Center’s ability to achieve maximum possible societal benefit
      • sustain the Center’s research objectivity, independence and credibility
      • prohibit significant risk to the Center, financially, reputationally or otherwise
      • preserve the Center’s mission-driven culture

      Criteria for acceptance of corporate gifts include:

      • The Center will conduct due diligence research and assess risks that might arise from association with such corporation
      • The Center retains ownership of all climate science research related to or supported by said corporate gift and retains all rights to disseminate and/or publish results of such research
      • Exclusive relationships are discouraged. In the unlikely circumstance of an exclusive relationship with a corporate funder, the terms of exclusivity shall be proactively discussed, agreed upon and documented within the terms of a written gift agreement.

Additional Provisions

  1. Securing appraisals and legal fees. It will be the responsibility of the donor to secure an appraisal (where required) and independent legal counsel for all gifts made to Woodwell Climate.
  2. Valuation of gifts. Woodwell Climate will record a gift received at its valuation for gift purposes on the date of gift except that, when a gift is irrevocable, but is not due until a future date, the gift may be recorded at the time the gift becomes irrevocable in accordance with GAAP.
  3. Responsibility for IRS filings upon sale of gifts. The Gift Acceptance Committee is responsible for filing IRS Form 8282 upon the sale or disposition of any asset sold within two [three] years of receipt by Woodwell Climate when the charitable deduction value of the item is more than $5,000. Woodwell Climate must file this form within 125 days of the date of sale or disposition of the asset. Form 8282 with Filing Instructions is attached as an appendix to this policy.
  4. Written Acknowledgment. Woodwell Climate will provide written acknowledgment of all gifts made to Woodwell Climate and comply with the current IRS requirements in acknowledgment of the gifts.
  5. Woodwell Climate endorses the Donor Bill of Rights created by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, the Council for Support and Advancement of Education, and the Giving Institute: Leading Consultants to NonProfits. The Donor Bill of Rights is attached as an appendix to this policy.

Changes to Gift Acceptance Policy

This policy has been reviewed and accepted by the Gift Acceptance Committee of Woodwell Climate. The GAC must approve any deviations from this policy. The GAC shall periodically review the policy to ensure that it continues to accurately describe the policies of Woodwell Climate with respect to acceptance of charitable gifts, and shall propose to the full Board of Directors ratification of any revisions that the GAC determines to be necessary or appropriate.

Approved on the 10th day of February, 2023
by Woodwell Climate Research Center Board of Directors