Accounting for In-Kind Donations

How to Acknowledge and Record Noncash Donations

Sometimes churches and nonprofits receive in-kind donations. Gifts in-kind are donations of items, use of property, and professional services. Accounting for those non cash donations can oftentimes be confusing. See how to acknowledge and account for those donated goods and services... 

Acknowledging and accounting for in-kind donations.

What are In-Kind Donations?

Many nonprofit organizations receive in-kind donations and don't even think to record their value in their accounting books, but if you are required to file a 990, you must record and account for gifts in-kind. Even if you don't file 990s as most churches don't is a good practice to account for gifts in-kind as they can add significant revenue and value to your organization’s financial statements.

There are typically three categories of in-kind donations. They are

  • contributions of tangible and intangible goods
  • use of property
  • donations of services

Some examples of tangible gifts in-kind (physical goods that can be touched or held) include:

  • furniture donation
  • equipment donation
  • food donation
  • clothing donation
  • inventory, and supplies

Some examples of intangible gifts in-kind (goods have value but do not have a physical presence) include:

  • trademarks
  • copyrights
  • patents
  • royalties
  • advertising

Examples of use of property include:

  • leased space
  • discounted rent   

Gifts in-kind can include professional services rendered by:

  • accountants and bookkeepers
  • lawyers
  • plumbers
  • electricians
  • nurses and physicians
  • Computer programmer, designers, technical support, etc.
  • Contractors

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Donation Valuation

How a nonprofit or church should  record donated goods and services.

Let me start out with saying EVERY nonprofit organization and church should have a written policy outlining their guidelines for accepting or NOT accepting in-kind donations. If it cannot be used or sold, do not accept it.

Your donation valuation method will depend on the gift in-kind. Since some of those valuation methods can get really detailed, I will give you a brief overview and provide links to more detailed articles regarding in-kind donation valuation below.

Donated goods received in bulk from retailers and manufacturers such as a grocery store donating canned goods to your food bank or a retail store donating backpacks to your outreach program...are usually the easiest to value as you can just use the wholesale value of the items. 

Use of property donations such as reduced or free rent should be recorded and measured at fair value. 

Donated services are only recorded if:

  • the service requires specialized skills such as a lawyer, accountant, electrician, etc,
  • the service would have had to been purchased if not donated

Note: even though these specialized services can and should be recorded in your accounting, the IRS does not allow tax deductions for donated services, so a contribution receipt would not be issued (more on that below). 

(Links to more detailed gift in-kind donation valuation methods are listed at the bottom of this article.)

How to Record In-Kind Gifts

How you record the in-kind contribution in your accounting records will depend on your accounting software. In most accounting systems, you will record the gift in-kind as a journal entry. However, you will need to first set up some new accounts in your chart of accounts...such as:

  • In-Kind Contributions (income)
  • Professional Service In-Kind (expense)
  • Supplies (expense)
  • Equipment In-Kind (expense...if donation NOT considered a capitalized asset)
  • Assets In-Kind (fixed asset)

If you use QuickBooks:

Lisa London's book "Using QuickBooks Online" explains how to set up and record in-kind donations with journal entries and gives step by step examples. Let me stop here and encourage EVERY church or nonprofit that use or plan on using QuickBooks Online (QBO) to purchase Lisa's book and keep it beside your computer! It has hundreds of screen shots and step by step instructions on pretty well everything you need to do to make QuickBooks work efficiently for you. If you have the desktop QuickBooks version, see her QuickBooks for Churches.

If you use Aplos:

See Alex's great examples of journal entries for recording donated items.

Some in-kind contribution journal entry examples...

An accountant donates 5 hours a month to do some accounting work that your organization would have had to pay another accountant to do. She regularly charges $100 per hour to do a similar service. To record this gift in-kind you would:

  • Debit Professional Service In-Kind $500
  • Credit In-Kind Contributions $500

Another example:

A business donates a portable building valued at $12,000. Assuming that your organization has a policy to capitalize assets of this value, you would record this gift in-kind like this:

  • Debit the fixed asset account (Portable Building In-Kind) $12,000
  • Credit the In-Kind Contributions $12,000

Another business donates an air conditioner valued at $800. Assuming that your organization has a policy to expense assets of this value, you would:

  • Debit the Equipment In-Kind (expense account) $800
  • Credit the In-Kind Contributions $800

More examples of in-kind donation journal entries are in the article list at the bottom of this page.

How to Acknowledge In-Kind Donations 

How to acknowledge in-kind donations of goods and services to a nonprofit organization or church.

In addition to recording the gifts in-kind in your accounting systems, it is appropriate to acknowledge the non cash contribution by generating a donor receipt. Unlike the recording of those donations, you should NOT (in most cases) include a value on a non cash contribution receipt. See an example of a non cash contribution receipt. 

The exceptions to this rule include donations of vehicles, boats, and planes. The rules regarding those donations and donations valued at $500 plus can be found on the IRS's site. My ebook Handling Donations details how to handle and acknowledge those donations along with other uncommon contributions. 

Note: the IRS does NOT allow charities to issue charitable contribution receipts for donated services! Donated services such as the accountant work discussed above is not a tax deductible contribution for the donor.

See more on acknowledging contributions.

References and Resources:

Gifts In-Kind: The A, B and C’s of Properly Recording

Donated Goods and Services

What Are Gifts-In-Kind And How Should I Record Them?

Recording In-Kind Contributions in the Nonprofit Organization's Records

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