Deed of Gift Agreements not signed

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    • #131729
      Lorna Ball

      We have three donors who donated artefacts to our Museum but will not return a signed Deed of Gift Agreement. Legally, what should our Museum do with the artefacts? The donors stated on the Temporary Custody Receipt that they don’t want the artefacts back. What do other Museums do in these situations?

    • #131731

      If you have reason to believe that the donors claimed charitable deductions for these gifts, it might help to let them know that if they are audited, the IRS might deny their deduction if they have not executed these deeds to document them. If your TR doesn’t already have the language on it, it would be a good idea to state clearly on the form that the TR does not convey ownership, and that a donation (if accepted) must be accompanied by a completed deed of gift in order to be legal. If donors can’t comply, then you really can’t accept their donations.

    • #131730
      Kevin Nunnelee

      This is something that I have had to deal with on numerous occasions. Oftentimes, people like to clean out their attics and bring all of their old, unwanted items to museums. To them, they want to see the items go to a good home, and often cannot bring themselves to throw the items away. In a lot of cases, these same people do not want to be bothered with paperwork, and simply want to make the change in ownership fast and effortless. If your institution has decided to accept these items into your collections, I suggest that you go ahead and begin the process of accessioning them. You can always assign the items a temporary accession number and properly store them. If your institution does not want the items, keep the items for at least six months, in case the donors come looking for them, and then dispose of them. In both cases, I would attempt to contact the donors, and let them know how important a signed deed of gift is your museum as a legal document. One book that is good at answering these sorts of questions is Rebecca Buck’s Collection Conundrums: Solving Collections Management Mysteries.



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