Gift Acceptance Policies
Prospective donors are urged to educate themselves and obtain independent professional counsel before making gifts. You may also print these for easy reference. MCHT is a charitable, 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.
The Development Committee – an MCHT standing committee made up of Board and other volunteer members and the Director of Development, chaired by a Director – is responsible for gift acceptance matters. MCHT’s Board of Directors (or the Executive Committee on its behalf) must ratify any restriction of gifts and any changes to these policies. The President, Director of Development or other authorized designee shall have the authority to execute annuity contracts and receipts on behalf of the organization.
Contemporaneous receipts for gifts of $250 or more will be prepared in accordance with Internal Revenue Service requirements indicating as is best ascertainable by the organization, the gift date, amount of cash given or description of property received, and for any goods or services given in exchange for the gift, a description and good faith estimate of the fair market value of those goods or services. If no goods or services were received by the donor, the receipt will include a statement to that effect.
For individual gifts or groups of related gifts valued at $5,000 or more, which are not cash or marketable securities, MCHT will sign an acknowledgement of receipt of the gift on the Internal Revenue Services Form 8283. While MCHT is not obliged to approve the claimed value, as a charitable 501(c)(3) organization operating for the public benefit, Maine Coast Heritage Trust will review valuations of assets and will not sign Forms 8283 for which it has reason to believe that no charitable gift has been made or that a clearly fraudulent value has been claimed. If MCHT sells the gift subject to a Form 8283, within 2 years of the receipt, it must file a Form 8282 with IRS to report the sale price and any other relevant information.
Maine Coast Heritage Trust accepts gifts of cash and marketable securities and, at the discretion of the Directors, remainder and lead interests in trusts, real estate, closely held securities, tangible items, retirement plans through bequests or beneficiary designation and life insurance. Legal counsel may be employed when needed for advice on any proposed gift or to review any proposed transaction for possible conflicts of interest.
It is Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s policy to immediately sell all readily marketable securities. Stock controlled under SEC rule 144 or bonds requiring a holding period will be held until the sale restriction expires and then will immediately be sold.
Tangible items offered to the Trust may be accepted if they can be readily sold or if they are of “related use” (of use to help meet the organization’s mission). Donors should be aware that donated tangible items that qualify as having “related use” to an organization’s mission are valued for possible income tax charitable deduction at fair market value, unless they are produced by the donor, in which case they are valued at the donor’s cost basis.
Costs of Gift Acceptance
MCHT will clarify with the donor under what circumstances, if any, MCHT will pay for legal fees or professional fees with respect to completing a gift. MCHT may also choose to pay for appraisals for its own purposes. If MCHT pays for a gift cost that is the legal obligation of the donor, the value of the gift will be reduced by the cost to MCHT for the services, or alternatively, the gift may be treated as a bargain sale with the cost to MCHT as the compensation to the donor. The President has the authority to approve expenditures of $5,000 or less for such expenses without formal Board approval. While MCHT, as gift recipient, is not legally responsible for determining the fair market value of gifts for tax deductibility determination, as a charitable 501(c)(3) organization operating for the public benefit, Maine Coast Heritage Trust will review valuations of assets and will not accept gifts which it determines have questionable valuations. MCHT will be particularly vigilant in assuring that gifts from ‘insiders’ and substantial cash donors have been fairly valued.
Agent for the Trust
Maine Coast Heritage Trust currently uses Bar Harbor Trust Company as its Agent for investment management and administrative services for planned gift funds. MCHT reserves the right to change or add agents without notice to donors.
Confidential Gift Information
MCHT shall keep confidential all information obtained about prospective donors and specific gift arrangements regardless of whether or not a gift is made. MCHT may use selected information for purposes of referral, testimonial or example if a donor grants permission.
Standards of Practice
MCHT staff who work in planned giving will adhere to the American Council on Gift Annuities Model Standards of Practice for the Charitable Gift Planner (which are available on the ACGA website, www.acga-web.org).
Campaign for the Coast Gift Crediting
If a donor wishes his or her planned gift (including revocable ones such as unrealized bequests) to be counted towards the Campaign for the Coast’s $100 million goal, the donor need only provide MCHT with a dated statement of the gift’s value in present dollars. Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s Board of Directors chose this simple method of encouraging planned gifts during the period of the Campaign for the Coast.
MCHT’s Directors, at the recommendation of the Development Committee, may decline any gift that in its collective judgment creates unacceptable challenges, undue expense, or a perception of impropriety or conflict with the organization’s mission.
Responsibility for Policy Review
The Development Committee has the responsibility for implementing these policies and reviewing them biennially or as needed.
The donor has the right to designate a gift for specific purposes, and he or she should discuss the feasibility and practicality of intended restrictions with an MCHT development officer. Particularly as planned gifts may not mature for many years, it is important for MCHT to be aware of and document a donor's intentions for future implementation. The Board of Directors must either expressly approve any donor restrictions or decline to accept the gift.
Undesignated planned gifts up to $25,000 (and the first $25,000 of larger undesignated planned gifts) shall be used to fund then current operations at the time they are realized. Any amount in excess of the first $25,000 the Board shall restrict to the Operating Endowment or to another use in keeping with the donor's interests. A report of any annual bequests received to date will go before the Board of Directors at its annual November meeting.
At the request of the donor, Maine Coast Heritage Trust will serve as trustee of charitable lead or remainder trusts for which:
- the corpus is $200,000 or more of unencumbered, liquid assets
- MCHT is the sole charitable lead or remainderman
- the estimated size of MCHT’s charitable interest exceeds 30%
- there are no more than two concurrent or successive income beneficiaries
- MCHT has the right to appoint or change investment managers
Trusts not fitting within these criteria need to be reviewed for acceptance by MCHT’s Development Committee. MCHT does not charge fees for trustee services. Third party expenses such as administrative costs and investment advisory expenses charged by MCHT’s agent will be charged back to the trust. The trust tax year must be the calendar year.
Pooled Income Fund
Pooled income gifts are currently not accepted. Inquiries concerning them may be directed to the Director of Development.
Charitable Gift Annuities
Amounts and Ages
Maine Coast Heritage Trust offers charitable gift annuity contracts for amounts of $10,000 or more of cash or marketable securities with donors age 60 and older using a maximum of the then-current suggested rates recommended by the American Council on Gift Annuities (available on the ACGA website, www.acga-web.org). Subsequent annuities entered into with the same individual may be for amounts of $10,000 or more.
Number of Annuitants
MCHT will accept annuity gifts for one life, two lives in succession, or joint and survivor annuity agreements. Gift annuity agreements will be limited to one life or two lives in being at the time of the gift.
Annuitants 60 or younger under certain circumstances with Board review and approval may be offered deferred payment annuities with payments scheduled to begin no sooner than when the youngest beneficiary has reached the age of 60. In order to be considered a deferred annuity, payments must be deferred for at least one year.
The donor may select annuity payments to be paid quarterly, semi-annually or annually. Annuity payments will be rounded upward to the nearest dollar to ensure that each payment will be exactly the same amount. Individual payments shall not be rounded downward. MCHT will make every effort to mail annuity payments in time to arrive on the payment due date.
Permits and Regulation
The President is authorized, upon consultation with the organization’s counsel, to take action to obtain any special permits as necessary and to otherwise establish procedures and policies to establish and operate a charitable gift annuity program.
The organization will make an effort to be aware of the investment, registration and reporting requirements of those states that have statutes regulating charitable gift annuities, and be guided by input from its own legal counsel and staff as to the necessity for filing for a permit to write annuity agreements or registering to do business in those states. Because gift annuities are regulated according to the laws of the donor’s state of residence, and such laws change frequently, MCHT may choose to decline to enter into an agreement with any individual who is not a Maine resident. All annuity contracts offered by MCHT are deemed to have been entered into in Maine unless otherwise expressly agreed to by the parties.
Fund Purpose and Reserve Policy
An annuity is a contract between Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the donor, backed by the assets and good faith of MCHT. MCHT’s policy is to invest gift annuity assets in a separate and distinct fund independent of all other accounts of the organization, known as the Maine Coast Heritage Trust Charitable Gift Annuity Fund (“Fund”). The Fund shall not be applied to for the payment of any debts or obligations of the organization or for any purpose other than the annuity benefits herein described. The Fund shall include a separate and ongoing accounting of each gift, maintained until the demise of the last annuitant. At the maturity of the gift, an appropriate amount may be withdrawn from the Fund for transfer to other organizational accounts in accordance with original donor designation, if any. This policy represents a reserve policy of 100% of gifted assets in the Fund.
MCHT will maintain a separate checking account for the Fund. Appropriate records will be maintained to permit appropriate reporting of Fund activity to those states that require it by statute, should obtaining a permit in any state be required.
MCHT may elect to reinsure any annuity agreement with an “A” rated commercial insurance company registered to do business in Maine. MCHT is aware that under current law New York State permits reinsurance only through a “treaty” (negotiated) agreement with a registered insurance company and if the insurance company fails, MCHT would be liable for any annuity payments under an agreement entered into with a New York resident.
Authority to Enter into Agreements
Only MCHT’s President, the Director of Development, or other persons designated by the President are authorized to execute charitable gift annuity agreements on behalf of the organization.
Service Providers’ Adherence to Policy
Maine Coast Heritage Trust may contract with third-party providers to provide administrative, investment and other services to the Fund, subject to the approval of the Board of Directors. All such third-party providers shall review and agree in writing to abide by these policies.
Conflicts of Interest
Maine Coast Heritage Trust shall not knowingly enter into any annuity agreement that would form the basis or suggestion of a conflict of interest.
Gifts of Real Estate
Maine Coast Heritage Trust exists to conserve Maine’s rich natural heritage. MCHT’s mission is to conserve coastal and other lands that define Maine’s distinct landscape, protect its environment, sustain its outdoor traditions and promote the well-being of its people. If a gift of real estate is offered to MCHT, staff will first determine the property’s suitability for MCHT’s conservation purposes in accordance with conservation acceptance practices and policies, recorded elsewhere.
If a proposed gift has conservation value, staff will develop a plan, including ownership and/or disposition recommendations, for protection of that conservation value based on the land’s characteristics, community needs and perception, and the landowner’s intentions for the gift property.
Gifts of real property not meeting conservation criteria may be accepted for sale as soon as practical, with proceeds to be used to support MCHT’s conservation mission. Such properties may be unimproved, such as a subdivided house lot or land zoned for commercial use, or improved, such as an apartment building, summer cottage or primary residence. Real estate gifts of a non-conservation nature may take a number of forms, including outright gifts, bequests, bargain sales, gifts of remainder interests, gifts funding a charitable remainder trust, and gifts funding deferred payment gift annuities.
In assessing whether it is in MCHT’s best interests to accept a gift of real estate for other than conservation purposes, the organization will consider the property’s title, value, marketability, location, encumbrances, liabilities, costs and income, present and future perceptions which may arise out of MCHT’s acceptance and/or resale of the property and any other issues distinct to that property that might create unacceptable challenges, undue expense, or a perception of impropriety or conflict with the organization’s mission. Where possible, MCHT will document the donor’s intent in making the gift with the intention of resale by MCHT.