Reply To: Questions regarding Deeds of Gift

Janice Klein

Sorry, let’s try that again without the cat on keyboard.    There are three legal requirements for a gift to take place:

1. an offer

2. an acceptance

3. a transfer of property

If you have something that says “I’d like to give this to you” and something that says “Thanks very much” and the objects, then all the legal requirements of a gift have taken place.   A Deed of Gift is an internal museum document that pulls the first two requirements together in a neat package (often with some more standard language about copyright, authority to make the gift and the usual IRS disclaimer about “no goods or services”).   However, it is not a legal requirement.

Next, a Deed of Gift (or offer and acceptance documents) can list items that the donor is giving to the museum but are not being added to (i.e., accessioned) the permanent collection.    Again, the law (and the IRS) makes no distinction about accessioned vs non-accessioned.    [There is a different between items accepted for a use related to the museum’s mission and those not-related, but we’ll leave that for another day.]    There should be a document somewhere that lists everything a donor is giving you.    I suspect your donor added those items because from her perspective you seem to have forgotten to list everything she is giving you.     Shannon is right that you should let her know that some of these items will not be added to the permanent collection, but used in other ways (e.g., education).   But there’s no problem with putting all of them on the Deed of Gift and identifying some as “not to be accessioned”.

Finally, you don’t need to send her a new Deed of Gift.    If the appropriate museum officer has not yet signed the Deed s/he can do it now; if it was already signed by said person, s/he can just initial the changes and you can send a copy back to the donor.