The National Standards for Gift Planning Success specify that nonprofit organizations should have clear policies to manage risk and ensure accountability to donors and the public (NSGPS 4). Policies for counting gifts internally toward goals and reporting publicly on the progress of fundraising campaigns are important components of an organization’s accountability framework. CGP’s Guidelines for Reporting and Counting Charitable Gifts establish the importance of transparency and clarity in these policies, taking into account the perspectives of the donor as well as the charity. The Guidelines also recognize and report ALL the activity of the development program during a specified period of time, whether a single year or a multi-year campaign. This is essential to raise the visibility and value of planned gifts and gift planners, since the income from these gifts is often not received during the reporting period.

The Guidelines were originally published in 2005. The 2021 edition of the Guidelines reaffirms core principles, including counting gifts in three categories:

1. Current gifts received or pledged during the reporting peri
2. Irrevocable gifts completed during the reporting period but whose benefit to the organization will be realized sometime in the future (such as charitable trusts or charitable gift annuities).
3. Revocable commitments that will take place at the end of the donor’s life.  

The 2021 edition also affirms the original recommendation to count all gifts and commitments at face value as of the date the gift/commitment is made. While long-term commitments entail a certain amount of uncertainty and the eventual value to the charitable organization may greatly vary, these recommendations lean in the direction of simplicity and donor perspective. Other policies address valuation, accounting (or booking) and crediting gifts, and the distinctions among these activities are addressed in the Counting Guidelines document.

The new edition offers guidance for the following gift structures and assets that were not common when the Guidelines were developed in 2005.

  • Qualified Charitable Distributions from retirement accounts
  • Testamentary CRUTs funded by IRA assets
  • Donor-advised fund distributions (including internal and third-party DAFs)
  • Transfer on Death/Pay on Death designations
  • Counting of gifts that change value or mature between campaigns

CGP’s Guidelines for Reporting and Counting Charitable Gifts


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Contact CGP with questions about counting and reporting charitable gifts