How Contributed Assets are Valued

Valuation of contributed assets in the context of nonprofit organizations refers to the process of assigning a monetary value to assets that have been donated to the organization. These assets could include cash, tangible assets (such as property, equipment, and inventory), and intangible assets (such as patents, copyrights, and trademarks). Accurately valuing contributed assets is important for financial reporting, compliance with accounting standards, and transparency in communicating the value of donations to stakeholders.

The valuation process varies based on the type of contributed asset:

  1. Cash Contributions: Valuing cash donations is straightforward, as the value is readily apparent. The donated cash amount is recorded on the nonprofit’s financial statements as a revenue item.
  2. Tangible Assets: Valuing tangible assets can be more complex. The value assigned to these assets should reflect their fair market value at the time of donation. Fair market value is the price that would be agreed upon in an open and unrestricted market between knowledgeable and willing parties. For property and equipment donations, nonprofits might consider obtaining appraisals from qualified professionals to determine fair market value. This ensures that the reported value accurately represents the assets’ worth.
  3. Intangible Assets: Intangible assets, such as intellectual property rights (patents, copyrights, trademarks), are also valued based on their fair market value. If an intangible asset is donated, its value might be determined through methods like cost approach, income approach, or market approach, depending on the specific asset and available information.

It’s important to note that donated assets should be recognized at their fair market value on the date of the donation, rather than the historical cost or the value stated by the donor. This helps ensure transparency and consistency in financial reporting.

Valuation of contributed assets involves the following steps:

  1. Documentation: Obtain detailed information about the donated assets, including descriptions, conditions, and relevant documentation, to accurately assess their value.
  2. Fair Market Valuation: Determine the fair market value of the donated assets. This might involve consulting professionals, reviewing market data, or using appropriate valuation methods.
  3. Record Keeping: Create clear records of the valuation process, including the methods used and any appraisals obtained.
  4. Accounting Entries: Record the contributed assets and their corresponding values on the nonprofit’s financial statements. Depending on the nature of the contribution (cash, tangible, intangible), these entries might impact revenue accounts, asset accounts, and potentially other relevant accounts.
  5. Disclosure: In the nonprofit’s financial statements, disclose the nature and value of contributed assets, along with any restrictions or conditions attached to them.

Valuation of contributed assets is an essential aspect of nonprofit accounting, as it ensures that the organization’s financial statements accurately reflect the value of donations received. Nonprofits should adhere to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) or other relevant accounting standards specific to their region to ensure proper valuation and disclosure of contributed assets.

Caroline Grimm

Caroline Grimm is an accounting educator and a small business enthusiast. She holds Masters and Bachelor degrees in Business Administration. She is the author of 13 books and the creator of Accounting How To YouTube channel and blog. For more information visit:

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