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Gift Cards Donation to Students

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  • 1.  Gift Cards Donation to Students

    Posted 01-04-2022 04:02 PM
    Hello - I've read through various posts on gift cards, but haven't found exactly what I need. We are a public university with a 501(c)(3) foundation that accepts charitable donations. We just learned today that a donor contacted the president's office before the holidays and donated 20 AMEX cards to be given to students in need; the gift cards were sent to the Dean of Students office for distribution. 

    As the foundation did not solicit nor receive the gift cards, I don't think we can record/count as a GIK: am I correct? Since this donor is a major gift prospect, we intend to have his gift officer send a letter of thanks, not mentioning any value for the gift cards.

    Thanks so much!
    Jeannie Patch

    Jean Patch
    Senior Director, Advancement Services
    Salem State University

  • 2.  RE: Gift Cards Donation to Students

    Posted 01-04-2022 04:49 PM

    I would think you could count them. It is not uncommon for non-foundation units to receive gifts and Presidents always and Deans often have fundraising responsibilities. In-kind gifts often do not physically pass through the hands of a related foundation. As long as they pass your gift acceptance policy requirements, and meet all other standards for gifts, I don't see an issue.


    I agree with not mentioning the value as this is an in-kind gift. Donor's tax deductibility is based on cost if less than face value....can't go to Costco and pay $75 for $100 in gift cards and get a $100 deduction. :)



    John S


  • 3.  RE: Gift Cards Donation to Students
    Best Answer

    Posted 01-04-2022 04:53 PM
    I am not sure these qualify as deductible gifts.  I thought those had to be limited to tuition, room, and board.  There's an IRS Publication that talks about this (Publication 970).

    You might want to review that publication.  I'm also concerned about the selection process - who decides which twenty students deserve these?

    I'm only suggesting that a quick review by Counsel might be appropriate.


    John H. Taylor
    John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC
    2604 Sevier St.
    Durham, NC   27705
    919.816.5903 (cell/text)

    Serving the Advancement Community Since 1987

  • 4.  RE: Gift Cards Donation to Students

    Posted 01-04-2022 05:06 PM
    Thanks so much John & John for your helpful replies. I wondered if I was interpreting the tuition/room/board requirement correctly, so I'll take a closer look at Pub 970.



    Jean Patch
    Senior Director, Advancement Services
    Salem State University

  • 5.  RE: Gift Cards Donation to Students

    Posted 01-05-2022 08:37 AM
    Hmm... I would have thought that an AMEX gift card would be a cash equivalent, not a GIK. They can be used most anywhere, they don't expire, and they are transferable. In any case,  I think the issues raised by John Taylor need to be addressed, regardless of how the gift is characterized in terms of cash vs GIK.

    Thank you,
    Isaac Shalev
    Data Strategy Expert
    Sage70, Inc.
    (917) 859-0151

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