Additional Tools for Giving

Columbia Springs’s policy is to comply with Internal Revenue Service reporting requirements and all other aspects of state and federal tax law including the timely recognition of gifts. Columbia Springs offers no tax advice and donors are encouraged to consult with their tax advisors at their expense.

The gift acceptance committee is charged with the responsibility of reviewing gifts proposed to be made to Columbia Springs, properly screening, accepting or rejecting those gifts, proper and consistent donor recognition and making recommendations to the board on gift acceptance issues when appropriate.

Restrictions on Gifts 

Columbia Springs will accept unrestricted gifts, and gifts for specified programs and purposes, provided that such gifts are consistent with its stated mission, purposes, and priorities. Columbia Springs will not accept gifts that are too restrictive in purpose. Gifts for purposes that are not consistent with Columbia Springs’s mission or consistent with its current or anticipated future programs cannot be accepted. Examples of gifts that are too restrictive are those that violate the terms of the corporate charter, gifts that are too difficult to administer, or gifts that are for purposes outside the mission of Columbia Springs. All final decisions on the restrictive nature of a gift, and its acceptance or refusal, shall be made by the gift acceptance committee of the Columbia Springs. 

Establishing the Value of Donated Property

It is the policy of Columbia Springs to comply fully with the valuation rules set out in Publication 561 of the Internal Revenue Service and the relevant income, gift and estate tax laws and regulations. Copies of Publication 561 are available here.  Property contributed to Columbia Springs that has a value in excess of $5,000 must be accompanied by an appraisal unless it consists of:

  • cash

  • marketable securities

  • closely held securities with a value of $10,000 or less

  • a vehicle or boat, the value of which will be determined by its sale

  • intellectual property such as a copyright or patent

  • stock-in-trade, inventory or other property that would otherwise be held by the donor for sale to customers in the ordinary course of the donor’s business or

  • property contributed by a corporation that constitutes a “qualified contribution,” as described in Section 170(e)(3)(A) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, that will be used for the care of the ill, needy or infants. 

The fee for the appraisal may not be based on the value of the appraised property, and the appraiser must be “qualified,” as that term is used in IRS Publication 561. A “qualified appraiser” is one who is ordinarily in the business of appraising similar property, has appropriate educational and experiential background, who performs appraisals for many different people and purposes (and not primarily either for Columbia Springs or for the donor) and who is not employed by Columbia Springs, the donor, any relative of the donor or any entity controlled by the donor or members of the donor’s family. Duplicate originals of each appraisal should be prepared, one for Columbia Springs and one for the donor.  Columbia Springs will not pay for this appraisal.

Columbia Springs reserves the right to alter the value of property contributed to it on the books and records of Columbia Springs for accounting, tax-reporting, annual fund record-keeping or any other purpose if developments after the completion of the gift or information that comes to the attention of Columbia Springs after the gift is completed are determined, in the discretion of the Committee or Columbia Springs’s auditors, to merit such an alteration. 

Columbia Springs may sell the donated property at its discretion. If property is sold before 3 years of donation and is worth over $500.00 (US), Columbia Springs will file the appropriate IRS Form 8283 which may affect the tax deduction of the original donation.

Miscellaneous Provisions 

A. Securing appraisals, environmental review, assessment or remediation costs and legal fees for gifts to Columbia Springs.

The cost to secure an appraisal, environmental review, assessment or remediation (where required) and independent legal counsel for any gifts proposed to be made to or for the benefit of Columbia Springs are the Donor’s responsibility.

B. Fees and Commissions

Columbia Springs does not pay “finder’s fees” or commissions to third parties in connection with any kind of gift to Columbia Springs. Columbia Springs does, however, pay commissions and fees to properly negotiate and transfer assets. No officer, employee or agent of Columbia Springs is or will be compensated in a manner that is dependent on the size or nature of gifts made to Columbia Springs by any person. If Columbia Springs engages legal counsel, accounting professionals, appraisers or environmental consultants, their fees and expenses will be determined by the time they spend engaged in Columbia Springs’s work and not by reference to any particular gift in connection with which they are retained. 

C. Trips and Special Events

When trips or special events involve a charitable contribution, the fair market value and the charitable contribution amount for each participant will be stated specifically in the promotional literature and donor acknowledgment letter. Donations given to offset the costs of a special event must be recorded as gift income, rather than as a credit to an expense account.

D. Gift Plans and Other Documentation

Generally for major gifts, Columbia Springs will require documentation of gifts. Written gift plans and/or memorandums of understanding will include a statement of donor intent and will be reviewed by the gift acceptance committee as needed. Columbia Springs could require electronically recorded statements of donor intent for major gifts for legal and promotional purposes to inspire others to give. Pledges and/or Statements of Intent to Give will need to be signed before acknowledged and counted toward development goals.

E. Changes to Gift Acceptance Policies.

These policies and guidelines have been reviewed and recommended to the Board by the gift acceptance committee of Columbia Springs. The Board of Columbia Springs must approve any changes to these policies. The policies will be regularly reviewed.

Thanks to the Maine Island Trail Association for posting their gift acceptance policy online for use to the world. Your work is appreciated. 

Policy Generation: 
Initial Edit by DE 12/26/2018; ED 1/2/2019; Exec. Cttee. 2/7/2019; Board of Directors Approval 2/13/2019.​

IRS publications available here.

Contact Executive Director, Maureen Montague, or Development Director, Jennifer, with questions.

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Columbia Springs strives to offer a unique setting and educational experiences that foster a greater awareness of the natural world and inspire stewardship.


We are a 501 (c) 3 non-profit charity.
Our ID number is 91-2127405.

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