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Gift Acceptance Policy

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is pleased to accept gifts for the purpose of furthering its mission of advancing science throughout the world for the benefit of all people.  This policy defines the considerations with which AAAS evaluates potential gifts. 


For the purpose of this policy, a gift is defined as any item of value given to AAAS by an individual or organization for the charitable purpose designated by the donor and without expectation of a tangible or direct economic benefit to the donor, with the exception of tax benefits and/or recognition (for example, being listed on an honor roll or naming a part of the building, fund, award, etc. in the donor's honor). “Donor” is defined as an individual, corporation, or other entity who makes such a gift.

Gift purpose

An unrestricted gift allows AAAS to determine how to use the funds based on its most pressing needs. Unrestricted gifts are extremely valuable because the association can use them to flexibly meet its future needs. A restricted gift directs assets to a specific fund or particular purpose. AAAS encourages prospective donors to consult with the Office of Philanthropy and Strategic Partnerships when considering a restricted gift so that AAAS may ensure that potential restrictions can be met.

Unless the donor has expressly specified one or more restrictions on the use of a gift, all gifts shall be assumed to be unrestricted and shall be used to support AAAS’s highest priorities. Unrestricted gifts may be added to AAAS’s endowment. 

Endowed funds provide annual income to carry out the designated purpose of the fund. AAAS currently requires a minimum contribution of $100,000 to establish an endowment. Gifts to endowment will be governed by the AAAS Endowment Fund Policies and Procedures.

Specific types of gift assets

The following types of gifts will generally be accepted: cash; gifts of stocks, securities and mutual fund shares; distributions from retirement and life insurance plans. With additional review, gifts of closely held securities; life insurance policies; charitable remainder and charitable lead trusts; oil, gas, and mineral interests; real property; and tangible personal property and/or gifts-in-kind may also be accepted, as long as the assets to be donated are free of encumbrance. In general, AAAS will not accept gifts of timeshares or other partial interests in real estate or automobiles, boats, or other vehicles.

If the proposed gift of property is not of real utility to AAAS in its offered form, the marketability of such gifts is essential to the association’s decision to accept them. If such property cannot readily be sold or liquidated, prudence suggests that it not be accepted, and the prospective donor should be encouraged to consider a gift in an alternative form.

Bequest intentions

The association welcomes notification by donors that they have included AAAS in their wills or estate plans and honors their generous intentions with an invitation to membership in the 1848 Society. To the degree possible, AAAS encourages prospective donors to consult with the Office of Philanthropy and Strategic Partnerships when considering naming AAAS as the beneficiary of a bequest that is restricted in any way so that AAAS may work with donors during their lifetime to ensure that future conditions can be met.

Naming rights

AAAS may acknowledge exceptional gifts and honor an individual or organization by naming a physical space, program, or position. When naming is to be granted in perpetuity or in highly visible circumstances, certain pre-approval procedures must be followed for this kind of honor to be bestowed, including approval by the Chief Executive Officer and the Board of Directors.

Extremely rare circumstances may occur where existing gifts, including named gifts or other honors, are deemed to have significant potential to be injurious to the reputation or functioning of AAAS or undermine the purpose for which the gift or honor was intended. In such a situation, AAAS will always attempt to work with the donor to address the circumstance in a manner that respects the donor’s intent and protects the donor’s interests. In situations where it is not possible to accomplish a mutually agreeable resolution, the Board of Directors has the authority to revoke named honors.

Donor recognition

AAAS is proud of the gifts it receives and oftentimes will share news of a gift via AAAS publications and websites and other media sources, recognize donors as part of donor recognition societies—including the President’s Circle, the Catalyst Society, and the 1848 Society—or will publicly acknowledge a donor by name in other ways. Donors who wish their gifts to be anonymous or do not want any such recognition must notify AAAS in writing. AAAS reserves the right to decline gifts when the identity of the donor is not disclosed to AAAS. 

Providing legal or financial advice 

No employee or representative of AAAS shall provide any legal advice or financial planning services for any donor. Prospective donors should be encouraged to seek the assistance of their own legal and financial advisors in matters relating to their gifts and the resulting tax and estate planning consequences.

General principles

AAAS seeks to accommodate and accept all gifts from donors. However, it will not accept gifts that, in AAAS’s judgement, are for purposes that do not further its mission, could create unacceptable liability or cause it to incur future unanticipated expenses, include restrictions or come from sources that violate its ethical standards in any way, or otherwise violate the terms of this policy.

The Chief Advancement Officer or the designated head of development activities at AAAS holds primary responsibility for gift review and will engage colleagues in the review as needed. If a gift falls into one of the above categories, the Chief Advancement Officer must notify the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), who may consult with the Chief of Staff, Chief Advancement Officer, and/or Chief Financial Officer—and, in some cases, the Board of Directors—as to whether or not to accept it. 

AAAS reserves the right to disengage from a collaboration and/or remove any recognition without obligation if at any point information arises about or the donor becomes involved in any situation which degrades the donor in the community or otherwise has the potential to adversely affect the reputation or business of AAAS.

Periodic review and revision

This policy has been reviewed and accepted by the AAAS Board of Directors. The document shall be reviewed from time to time and any proposed revisions presented to the Board of Directors for approval.


For more information on clarification about this policy or to discuss a gift, please contact the Office of Philanthropy and Strategic Partnerships at 202-326-6636 or


Approved December 13, 2019

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