It’s that time of year again - Year End Gift time. This is when arts patrons, desiring to make donations of objects for tax purposes*, gift museums their treasures at the very end of the year. Some of these gifts will augment permanent collections and some will be given in order to benefit museums in some other way. While museums rely on these donations to fill out their collections, they often struggle to process these gifts quickly at the end of the year in order to properly track and document them.
iIn order for a gift of property to count for that particular tax year, it needs to be in the physical possession of the museum or the museum's agent (for example - a Fine Art Shipper or contract conservator). Once in the museum's possession, they are ethically and legally responsible to track and document the items given. But how do they quickly and easily track these eleventh hour gifts - especially this year when many museums have limited staff or hours? Simple - CatalogIt!
No matter where you are - home or at the museum, CatalogIt makes it easy to quickly document anything in your possession. You may not have determined if you want to accession the gift or accept it as a gift of property - no problem - quickly upload an image and the paperwork to a “Temporary Custody” profile so you can accession and catalog the gift at a later date. This way, these gifts are documented and ready for you to dive in and catalog completely once you have time.
Where to begin? You may or may not be the one physically accepting this gift - if it’s you - take a quick photo of the object or objects and the signed paperwork with your mobile device. If a curator or your director accepts the gift, ask them to take these photos and send them to you. You can upload the photos to CatalogIt and create a “Temporary Custody'' profile where you can include as many images and documents as you have, a photographic overview of the gift, and enter all the intake information pertinent to the gift. Use the “description” field to comprehensively describe the object(s) so that all the information is well documented in one place so that when you are ready to accession and catalog the gift you have everything available in one place. Of course you can always start by cataloging each entry, but in the event that you are not yet sure if you want to accession the item or accept it as a gift for another purpose, you will have the information in your system without having to spend the time comprehensively cataloging everything.
And if the gift is in the possession of your agent? Perhaps the gift was shipped from out of town and your shipper has possession of it pending transport to your museum. Not a problem - you can upload all of the information you have - images or correspondence from your donor, a gift agreement, appraisal information, your shipping documents and bill of lading. Your shipper can take photos of the packed gift and hopefully should have the condition report that was prepared when the gift was picked up. All of that can go into your “Temporary Custody” profile and serves as your documentation while you await the shipment.
And don’t forget, it is key to prepare condition reports of the objects when they arrive - take a minute to photo document the condition and note any issues on a condition report and upload that to the profile as well.
With CatalogIt, you can work from anywhere so if you don’t have time, or are not in the museum yourself, you can create a quick record with your phone and later add more information from your computer at home or at the office. This way you have the peace of mind that you have documented your year end gift and will be able to really dig in and accession and catalog everything after the first of the year, when you and your team are back to work after the holidays and have more time to focus on your new acquisitions.
* IRS regulations can vary from year to year based on new laws and regulations. Regulations differ from state to state so please always talk with your institution's lawyers and/or accountant to verify the rules for your specific institution.