Cash Is Not King for Fundraising: Gifts of Noncash Assets Predict Contributions Growth

23 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2018 Last revised: 5 Mar 2018

Date Written: March 3, 2018


Both fundraising practitioner advice and theories from academic research suggest that encouraging gifts of noncash assets may increase charitable giving. This paper analyzes data from 1,055,917 nonprofit tax returns (IRS Form 990) filed electronically for the tax years 2010-2016 to explore the association between various types of noncash gifts and intra-organizational contributions growth. Compared with organizations starting at the same initial contributions level in 2010 that reported only cash gifts in 2010, (1) those reporting any noncash gifts in 2010 received 41% more contributions five years later, and (2) those reporting any intangible personal property gifts (mostly securities) in 2010 received 106% more contributions five years later. A fixed effects regression incorporating all years of data found that decreasing the share of total contributions coming from cash (i.e., increasing the share from noncash assets) was strongly associated with increasing total contributions. The largest increases in total contributions accompanied increases in the share of contributions from non-publicly traded securities and real estate. Relatively smaller or insignificant changes in total contributions came when increasing the share of contributions from household goods, clothing, food, books, and collectibles. Shifting donations from cash to noncash assets, particularly asset types representing substantial wealth, was strongly associated with contributions growth.

Keywords: IRS Form 990, Fundraising, Philanthropy, Gift Planning, Charitable Giving

JEL Classification: L31, D64

Suggested Citation

James, Russell N., Cash Is Not King for Fundraising: Gifts of Noncash Assets Predict Contributions Growth (March 3, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Russell N. James (Contact Author)

Texas Tech University ( email )

2500 Broadway
Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics