Rich---I suggest that you can acknowledge gifts of time and services in strict keeping with the IRS rules, and you can satisfy your bosses’ wishes at the same time. There is a third, and to me, an equally important benefit in doing so. You can express your thanks to the donors of such “In-Kind” gifts in a greater, more meaningful, and appreciated way.
The IRS Publication 526, clearly states, “You cannot deduct the value of your time or services ...” OK, let’s go from there.
In general, to cover all such in-kind gifts (time, service, merchandise, products, etc.), we know that declarations of value which non-profit organizations might assign to those donated in-kind gifts will not be of use to donors to claim for tax-deductions. Such valuations, when applicable relative to “fair market value” need to be assessed and certified elsewhere --- if they can be --- and that is the donors’ responsibility. That is something they subsequently need to resolve with the professionals and others who will prepare their tax forms --- whose work in turn will need to be reconciled with IRS regulations.
We must not make outright official-sounding declarations of in-kind gift values to donors as they could be inadvertently led to take tax deductions in error. Therefore, this unique aspect surrounding in-kind gifts often causes us to acknowledge them in understated and almost offhand ways --- unlike the clearly stated amounts we cite for gifts of cash and stocks. As well, with gifts of cash and stocks, we can directly relate their values to specific programs and services made possible by such support. We do not necessarily express in-kind gifts as effectively and graphically. I always tried to acknowledge in-kind gifts with descriptions of their practical value to us and to make some reference of their worth to us in dollars. I suggest that you could treat your in-kind gift, in this case of the time and services given by a Registered Nurse, in somewhat the following way:
“Thank you for the generous gift of your nursing skills and time to help further the important work of our organization to those in need. While, according to IRS regulations, you will not be able to declare the value of your three hours of donated services on July 10, 2005, we can say that but for your generosity we would have had to expend approximately $120 for those much-needed services. These are dollars we are able to directly apply to support the programs and services we provide for the well-being of those whom we serve in our community.”
Rich---a rough draft, but maybe something you can adapt to fully comply with the IRS rules, do to some degree what your superiors want you to do, and to give more thoughtful and sincere appreciation to the RN.
As well, and I think quite important, in appreciation for such in-kind contributions, we always publicly recognized those gifts in annual reports with the donors’ names listed under the respective gift category of what the time, objects, products, or services would have cost us “retail.” Naturally those figures would not be IRS-deductible amounts either, but such public gestures on our part regarding the “market worth” of the in-kind gifts to "our" organization was always greatly appreciated by the donors.
I can tell you with a good deal of certainty that the Registered Nurse would be quite pleased to see her or his name listed say, in a contribution category of “$100 to $250” right there with the givers of cash. We did this for all my years as D/D with never a problem with the cash givers, but with more expressions of appreciation from the in-kind donors than I could count.