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Cultural Gifts Donations and the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature Inc

The Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program was set up in 1978 to promote the growth of institutions' collections of Australian cultural heritage. Donors may offer their cultural materials to eligible institutions (those with deductible gift recipient status) and thereby gain a taxation deduction based on the value of their donation. The donor also makes a valuable contribution to the development of Australian collections, and helps to preserve Australia's cultural heritage for the future.

The National Centre for Australian Children's Literature Inc first became a designated deductible gift recipient in 1988 and renewed its status in 2001. The Centre has received a large number of papers, manuscripts, photographs, artwork, books and publishers' records valued at over three million dollars. The items selected as donations have strengthened the Centre's collection in many ways, and we appreciate that these contribute to our knowledge of Australian children's literature.

The Cultural Gifts Program is explained in detail on the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet's website and in their publication Cultural Gifts Program Guide which can be downloaded. The Centre offers the following brief guide to assist those interested in making a donation to the Centre.

1. Making a donation

If you are interested in making a donation, the first step is to contact Dr Belle Alderman, the Director of the National Centre for Australian Children's Literature Inc. Contact details are included at the end of this document. The Cultural Gifts Program requires all donations to fall within the institution's Collection Development Policy. The Centre must also consider whether the potential donation offers research potential in the field of Australian children's literature, whether the donation complements other items held within our collection, whether we are the most suitable institution, and whether we can offer the storage needed.

A sub-committee of theCentre's Management Subcommittee considers potential donations. Should the donation be considered appropriate for the Centre, we will accept the collection and assist in identifying two appropriate valuers, which are required under the Program, to value the donation.

2. Valuing gifts

The Cultural Gifts donation should exceed the cost of the valuers' fees and the Archives' administrative cost of preparing the paperwork for the Cultural Gifts Program. As a general guideline, gifts valued at less than $1,000 would be unlikely to be considered, due to the costs involved. We are able to advise once we know more details of the proposed donation.

3. Continuing donations

To make donations easily available to researchers, collecting institutions, like the Centre, generally recommend that you donate your cultural materials to one, rather than several, institutions. This enables the institution to become knowledgeable about your collection and of greater assistance to researchers. It also benefits researchers to have all a donor's materials in one location and arranged in a similar way. Once we have accepted an initial donation from you, we will assist in arranging future Cultural Gifts donations.

4. Considering access restrictions

Sometimes, parts of a donation may be sensitive and a restriction on access for a specified period of time is necessary. Such restrictions, though, may affect the market value of the material so it is worth discussing this issue with us. 

5. Donating copyright

As a donor, you are required to indicate whether you are transferring copyright with the gift. In the case of papers, manuscripts and artwork, it is not usual to donate copyright of these materials. For certain types of material, copyright can be an important part of the donation, for instance, a donor who is also a photographer may donate his or her copyright for the photographs taken. The Centre is investigating when donations of copyright or licensing rights may be advantageous to both the Centre and the donor.

6. Determining ownership

When the materials are donated, the owner of the copyright of the majority of the collection must be established. The Center will confer with the donor to establish who holds the legal title to the collection. As part of the donation, the donor transfers legal custody and care of the materials to the institution, so that the materials can be appropriately cared for and made available to the public.

7. Commissioning and arranging valuations

The Centre usually recommends two valuers who are required by the program and known to us and have valued similar materials in the past. These valuers must be on the Approved Valuers list published by the Cultural Gifts Program on their website. The Centre requires the donor to pay the valuers' fees, as these, along with the value of the donation, are a taxation deduction for the donor. The Centre does not pay tax and therefore cannot claim this benefit. 

Arranging the valuers and their visits, and creating the paperwork for the Cultural Gifts committee, can take some time, so planning is essential between the Centre and the donor.

8. Accepting valuations

The Committee on Taxation Incentives for the Arts considers the Cultural Gifts donations. The Committee examines the paperwork relating to the donation and determines whether there is adequate and appropriate justification for the amount of the valuation. If the Committee accepts the valuations, then the average of the two valuations is the monetary amount which can be claimed as a tax deduction by the donor. The donation is claimed in the financial year of the donation, or the value of the donation can be spread over two to five years.

While there could be a significant difference in the value placed on the materials by the two valuers, this has been extremely rare at the Centre. If this should happen, we would engage a third valuer.

The donors are not required to approve the valuations. However, the Centre does inform donors of the average of the two valuations before submitting these to the Cultural Gifts Program. If the donor is unhappy with the valuations, another valuation can be arranged, although additional costs and delays would be encountered.

Further information

There are some inevitable complexities to the Cultural Gifts Program, and this guide has been intentionally kept brief.  We would be pleased to discuss your potential donation and the Program with you. You may contact the Director of the Centre by post, email or phone.


Dr Belle Alderman AM
The National Centre for Australian Children Literature
The Library
University of Canberra ACT 2601



02 6201 2062 (Mon-Tues, Thurs)

We gratefully acknowledge the National Library of Australia, which has produced a similar guide to the Cultural Gifts Program at their institution.

The Water Rat by Pixie O'Harris

The Water Rat

by Pixie O'Harris

One of a set of original illustrations for Kenneth Graham's Wind in the Willows, generously donated to the Lu Rees Archives by the artist's daughters.