What Constitutes a Quid Pro Quo or Token Gift for Charitable Contributions?
If you've read Nolo's books on nonprofit fundraising and management, you know that nonprofits need to send a written acknowledgment to anyone who donates $75 or more, ordinarily stating the value of any thank-you gifts sent to them in return, which they'll need to subtract from the amount of the gift for tax purposes. You also know that there's no need to tell them to subtract out the value of return gifts to them that were merely "token" items like a tote bag, coffee cup, or stickers, as long as they bear your organization's name or logo.
Nor does the donor have to subtract from the gift's value the cost of any item that your nonprofit sent in return if it was low-cost in comparison to the overall donation.
The exact dollar amounts of what constitutes "token" or "low-cost," however, change year by year. According to the IRS's 2014 inflation adjustments regarding quid pro quo contributions, to qualify as token goods or services, they must cost your organization no more than $10.40, and the contribution received must have been at least $52. (And again, the items must have your organization's name or logo on them.)
Regarding the exception for low-cost items, low cost items must now either have a fair market value of $104 or less, or be worth 2% or less of the donor's payment, whichever is less.
The above token and low-cost limits apply to calendar year 2014; these are regularly adjusted.