Cheat Sheet for Year-End Gifts

It's time for the year-end giving madness. Hooray!  

As your donors scramble to get everything done, it's important to know exactly when their gifts need to be in the door to count for 2014.  

Here's a quick cheat sheet:

Asset Type

Cash - By mail - It's best to have the check date and postmark date the same. Postmark MUST be from 2014 to count for this year. By hand - If the donor hand delivers the check they must do so before the end of the year.

SecuritiesThe gift counts on the date the stock arrives in your account.

Any asset more complex than cash or securities - This can take a while. Hustle with your business office to try to get it done. Be sure to keep your donor constantly informed about how the process is moving along.

Delivery Method

Online - The gift counts as soon as the donor hits the submit button.

US Mail - Postmark rules regardless of date on the check or arrival date.

FedEx / UPS - Unlike US Mail the date is determined by the date the material arrives. 

Wire transfer - The gift counts only when it appears in your account. 

Credit card - At the time the gift is made, up to and including 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31.

Deed - If the gift isn’t underway by now, it's not likely to be completed before the end of the year.


Mutual FundHurry up! The gift is not completed until it enters your account and neither the donor nor you have any control over when that happens. You are at the mercy of the agent, which probably requires at least 3 weeks lead time.

Brokerage account - Should be no problem as long as the brokerage house is open and doing business; probably not Dec. 25 or 31.

One More Thought

 If the source of the gift is anything other than cash, confirm the following:

      • That the asset has been held more than one year.
      • That the asset has increased in value over the original purchase price. 

If not, suggest to the donor they select a different asset because any intended tax benefits cannot be realized. 

If the donor insists on using an asset that has declined in value or has not been held for more than one year, you might recommend they sell the asset and gift the proceeds. This will generate a charitable tax deduction for the amount of the gift plus they MAY be able to claim a capital loss on the asset to which they can offset capital gains on other sales of assets.  

As in all cases, recommend the donor check with their own advisors.