Years ago when I was a Director of Development, I had a gentleman call me one morning wanting to donate for our auction. Tickled pink to have a donor call and offer to donate without having to be asked, I questioned what he might be donating.
“Gnomes.” he replied, “They are about one foot high and are certified collectibles.”
“Well, we always appreciate donations for our auction. How many of them do you have?” I questioned, pondering what I was going to do with gnomes.
“Oh, about eight to ten,” he answered.
Eight to ten? Was he not sure if the neighbor kids had stolen any of them off his rock lawn in the trailer park recently?
“Well, we are a bit tight on storage space and our auction is not until next March,” I responded trying to ward him off from dumping his cheap collectible crap on me.
“Well, I could wrap them up in paper and box them for you,” he offered.
“Yes, that would be nice,” I politely responded, thinking that would actually be a good benefit instead of having 10 gnomes in my office staring at me all day. “I still need to check on the storage situation around campus to see if we can hold them for that long and I will get back to you about the gnomes.”
“That’s great. They are each worth about $50 to $150 dollars. Can I get a tax-deductible receipt?” he coyly asked.
Ah, and who said donors don’t donate purely for tax reasons? He was trying to write off his garden ornaments.
And there goes another day in the life of a fundraiser.
What is the oddest donation your nonprofit has ever received?