Gift Acceptance Policy

Bishop O’Connell High School (“the school”) is deeply appreciative of donors who choose to make the school a priority when planning their charitable contributions. The school gladly accepts donations for the support of its students, programs and facilities that are in keeping with the mission and strategic plan of the school. The following is meant to be a set of guidelines for the evaluation and acceptance of donations.

I. Mission Statements

School Mission Statement - Bishop O’Connell High School is a Catholic college preparatory school that provides students an education rooted in the life of Christ and fosters the pursuit of excellence in the whole person.

Advancement Mission Statement - The mission of the Bishop O’Connell Advancement Office is to build strong and lasting relationships with all of our constituencies and to strategically engage them as volunteers, leaders, ambassadors and financial supporters, to strengthen and sustain the operational and long-term fiscal needs of the school.

II. Ethical Standards

As advancement professionals, we abide by the highest ethical principles to protect both the institution and the donor. Specifically, we uphold the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Donor Bill of Rights and the National Catholic Development Conference (NCDC) Code of Stewardship and Ethics.

III. Authority for Accepting Gifts

The authority to accept gifts for the support of the school is vested with the Board of Governors. The Board has delegated authority to the following individuals:

  1. The Head of School shall have the authority to accept gifts of cash, cash equivalents, and gifts-in-kind to be used for the operations and activities of the school.
  2. The Director of Advancement with the approval of the Head of School shall have the authority to accept gifts of cash, cash equivalents, and gifts-in-kind to be used for the operations and activities of the school.
  3. The Director of Advancement, in consultation with the Gift Acceptance Committee and the Board of Governors, shall have the authority to accept other gifts, e.g., stock/interests in closely held companies, real estate (providing there is a clean Phase I environmental report), artwork and “bargain sales”
  4. The Director of Advancement and the Head of School shall refer decisions on accepting gifts to the Gift Acceptance Committee for gifts which in their judgment are either contrary to established rules, procedures, or law or may have a major impact on the School’s mission and programs.

IV. Gift Types

Cash, Checks and Credit Card

Bishop O’Connell High School accepts gifts made as cash, through a valid checking account or by means of a credit or debit card. The date of the gift is recorded as the date the gift is received in the Advancement Office, with the exception of gifts received at the close of the calendar year. At that time the date of the postmark on the envelope shall serve as the gift date.

Gifts of Appreciated Securities

Gifts of appreciated property in the form of stock are accepted by the school through the approved Catholic Diocese of Arlington brokerage account. The donor must initiate the transfer of securities either electronically or make arrangements for physical delivery with the transferor's endorsement or signed stock power (with appropriate signature guarantees) attached. Before a transfer is made, It is the donor’s responsibility to inform both the Diocese and the school that a stock donation is in process and that the school shall be the beneficiary of the gift. Download the Catholic Diocese of Arlington Stock Donation Form HERE. As a general rule, all marketable securities shall be sold immediately upon receipt and the proceeds, in the form of a check, will be forwarded to the school.

Gifts of Tangible Personal Property (Gifts-In-Kind)

Gifts of tangible personal property (other than securities) may be accepted by the Advancement Office provided that they meet the approved needs of the school and do not place an undue burden on the School to maintain. Gifts of Tangible Personal Property are deductible according to their Fair Market Value (FMV) as evidenced by the donor. For proper acknowledgment, donors should provide the school with a detailed description of the item when making the donation. In accordance with IRS guidelines, the school will provide the donor with an acknowledgement of the gift, but will not acknowledge an assumed FMV unless the donor provides an independent appraisal. In any event it is the donor’s responsibility to substantiate the FMV to the IRS.

If the gift is valued by the donor over $500, the donor must file IRS Form 8283. In addition, the donor must obtain a qualified appraisal to determine the value of donations exceeding $5,000 and submit an appraisal summary to the school (IRS Form 8293 part B). Should the school sell a gift with an original value of $500 within three years of receipt, the School will submit a Donee Information Return (IRS Form 8282) stating the value of the sale.

Gifts of artwork, decorative items, cars, boats and airplanes require distinct approval by the school. All such assets are treated uniquely by IRS regulations both in terms of the school’s responsibility in accepting such gifts and the donor’s responsibility in reporting them. The school strongly suggests that donors consult with their tax advisors whenever making a gift of this kind.

Gifts of Real Property

Outright gifts of real estate may be accepted, but in all cases the school will seek advice from legal counsel prior to approval and require an environmental review of the property.

Planned Gifts

A planned gift for this purpose is any gift that is customized to the needs and objectives of an individual donor to help that donor maximize his/her gift to the school and realize personal, financial and tax benefits.

Many planned gifts are designated to be given all or in part upon the donor’s passing. Donors who make such a gift are encouraged to contact the School so that the school can discuss the terms ahead of the effective date of the gift and to reassure the donor that his/her wishes will be fulfilled. Additionally, all donors who provide a testamentary gift to the school will be honored as members of the Bishop O’Connell Legacy Society.

Donors are encouraged to make bequests to the school under their wills, and to name Bishop O’Connell High School as the beneficiary under trusts, life insurance policies, commercial annuities and retirement plans. For more information about these options, please contact the Advancement Office.

V. Giving Opportunities

Unrestricted Giving

Gifts given to the school that carry no designation by the donor and are not solicited for a restricted purpose (see below) are considered to be unrestricted and may be used for any purpose as directed by the Head of School. Unrestricted gifts provide the most flexibility to meet the operational needs of the school.

Restricted Giving

As noted above, a gift given for a specific purpose is restricted in its use by the donor. The Director of Advancement has the authority to accept such gifts based on the priorities of the school as articulated by the Board and the Head of School. In rare instances, gifts may not be accepted by the school when the purpose for which the gift is given would be contrary to the mission or strategic needs of the School. The school will not accept gifts that (a) would jeopardize its status as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, (b) are too difficult or too expensive to administer in relation to their value, or (c) would result in any unacceptable consequences for the school.

Annual Giving

The Knight Fund is the cornerstone of the school’s fundraising efforts.The success of the Knight Fund has an enormous impact on the School’s ability to provide the margin of excellence in teaching, tuition assistance, scholarships, student development programs and facilities. Unrestricted gifts provide the most flexibility for the School to meet its operational needs.

Capital and Endowment Giving

Gifts for facility improvements and equipment can be considered “capital” gifts. Such gifts may be made as part of a formal capital giving effort or may be for singular capital needs. Commonly, such gifts are pledged and paid over a number of years.

Gifts to endowment are permanently held by the Diocese in the Foundation for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington and are pooled with other funds and invested.

When creating an endowment, donors, the school and the Diocese will reach written agreement concerning use of the funds. While the school prefers gifts of unrestricted endowment which assures the greatest flexibility, donors may restrict their endowments for purposes which are in accordance with the School’s mission and strategic plan. The minimum gift required for establishing a separate restricted endowment is $25,000. For more information on establishing an endowment, please contact the Advancement Office.

Memorial and Tribute Gifts

Donors may give a gift in memory or honor of a friend, or relative at any time. Notification will be sent to the family or honoree informing them of the donor’s gift.

There are two types of Memorial or Tribute Gifts:

  1. Gifts which are part of an ongoing program or campaign, such as the Knight Fund.
  2. Gifts in memory or in tribute to an individual and not as a result of a solicitation for the Knight Fund or Capital Campaign. These gifts will be placed in a restricted account until such time as the family of the decedent or the individual being honored makes a decision as to the disposition of the funds. The family normally works with the Advancement Office to determine how to match their wishes with the needs of the school. Such uses of the funds should conform to the mission and strategic plan of the school.

VI. Stewardship

Bishop O’Connell High School is grateful for all gifts received which benefit the school and students. The school endeavors to recognize all gifts in an appropriate and timely manner. Vehicles for recognition include the Annual Report, publications associated with capital campaigns, naming opportunities, donor recognition events, the Leadership Circle and the Legacy Society.

The Annual Report

Donors who make tax-deductible gifts to the Knight Fund, restricted giving programs, capital campaigns and special fundraising events, will be recognized yearly in the Annual Report. To be included, gifts must be received during the school’s fiscal year (July 1- June 30). Payments made after the end of the fiscal year on pledges made during the prior year will be recognized the year that the payment is received.

Donors whose gift is matched by their company or foundation will be acknowledged in the giving level that is a result of the combination of the gifts. A donor may designate that the gift remains anonymous and, as such, will be listed in the appropriate giving level.

United Way and Combined Federal Campaign donors will be listed in the Annual Report by donor name, if the donor has indicated on their UW or CFC pledge form that their name may be released to the School. We regret that we are unable to recognize UW or CFC donors by specific giving levels in the Annual Report due to the distribution of funds in a bulk check format over a multi-year period.

VII. Advancement Office Procedures

Gift Processing and Cash Handling

All individuals employed by the Advancement Office who come into contact with money, must be cleared through police department background checks and fingerprinting. In consultation with the Diocesan independent auditors and the school’s Business Office, the Advancement Office has checks and balances for the safe handling and accounting for funds.

Gift Acknowledgement

All gifts will be documented in the Advancement Office constituent record management (CRM) software as soon as possible after receipt of the gift. Acknowledgment of all gifts will be made within 24 hours of receipt whenever possible. Additionally, the school will furnish donors with records of their giving whenever requested.

Pledge Policies and Procedures

Pledges directed toward the Knight Fund may be received in writing, through email or verbally and will be acknowledged by the Advancement Office as such. Pledges made by donors for the Knight Fund will be booked in the Advancement Office as a prediction of anticipated gifts, but will not be booked in the general ledger by the Business Office.

Capital and Endowment Pledges

Pledges for capital or endowment purposes that are to be fulfilled over a period that exceeds one year can only be counted if received in writing and acknowledged as such by the Advancement Office. All such pledges will be booked in both the Advancement Office database and the general ledger in the Business Office.

Pledges Receivable

The Advancement Office will actively and systematically bill all open annual, capital and endowment pledges. The Advancement Office will review all open pledges on a monthly basis. Reminders for open pledges will be mailed at appropriate intervals throughout the year. Donors of open capital or endowment pledges will be sent a statement of their pledge periodically.


The Advancement Office will strive to resolve delinquencies in a manner appropriate to the particular pledge and on a case-by-case basis. Pledges to the Knight Fund that are not fulfilled by the last day of the fiscal year will be written off by the Advancement Office prior to closing the books for the year and the Advancement Office will seek the donor’s gift in the new fiscal year.

Pledges for capital and endowment purposes can only be written off with the approval of the Head of School. For such pledges, all reasonable means of collecting a pledge receivable are to be exhausted before write-off procedures are initiated, as these situations may involve policies and procedures and/or amendments to financial statements. Requests to terminate a multi-year pledge may originate with either the donor or the Director of Advancement. The Advancement Office will accept donor-initiated pledge cancelation requests, obtaining written verification of the request from the donor when possible.

VIII. Miscellaneous Provisions

Gift Acceptance Committee

The school shall convene a Gift Acceptance Committee as needed to deliberate on proposed donations to the school. The committee shall consist of the Chair of the Board of Governors, Head of School, Chief Financial Officer, and Director of Advancement.

Use of Legal Counsel and/or Qualified Tax Advisors

Bishop O’Connell High School urges all prospective donors to seek the assistance of personal legal and financial advisors in matters relating to their gifts, including the resulting tax and estate planning consequences.

The school will seek the advice of legal counsel or qualified tax advisors in matters relating to acceptance of gifts when appropriate. Review by counsel and/or qualified tax advisors is recommended for, but not limited to, the following:

  • Gifts of securities that are subject to restrictions or buy-sell agreements
  • Documents naming Bishop O’Connell High School as trustee or requiring the school to act in any fiduciary capacity
  • Gifts requiring Bishop O’Connell High School to assume financial or other obligations
  • Transactions with potential conflicts of interest that may invoke IRS sanctions
  • Gifts of property which may be subject to environmental or other regulatory restrictions
  • Other instances in which use of counsel or advisors is deemed appropriate by the Gift Acceptance Committee