Obtaining a signed copy of a Deed of Gift is an important step to processing and making the donation fully part of the collections. Without that form, we are unable to do each of the necessary steps to document the donation and fully claim possession of it. In this blog, we will unpack what exactly a Deed of Gift is and how it affects the processing process.

Why do we ask you to sign a Deed of Gift?

A Deed of Gift is a contract stating that the ownership of the donation(s) is being transferred from the donor to the Society. This form is evidence that CCHS fully owns the item that will become part of the collection. Without the signed Deed of Gift, the ownership of items within our care can be contested. In addition to possession, the Deed of Gift also gives us all the contact information of the donor, which is necessary for provenance information. Maintaining complete records of our objects is crucial for museums to function properly. We need to know where our objects came from in order to study them and exhibit them accurately. And we need to be confident that the items in our collections cannot be claimed by a third party in the future. The Deed of Gift protects us and helps us to fulfill our mission.

Why is the Deed of Gift needed to process donations?

When processing a new acquisition(s), one of the steps is accessioning the item. In museums, accessioning an object means officially incorporating it into the museum’s collection of research, education, and/or exhibition materials. Accessioning requires establishing a detailed record of the object’s history. This step can only be done once the Deed of Gift is signed. This allows us to document the donor, the physical information of the donation, the date of donation, and where the item will be located. Lastly, we place an accession number on the item. This unique number reflects that the item is completely owned by CCHS and is part of the Society’s holdings. If a Deed of Gift is not signed, we have no evidence of ownership and the item cannot be accessioned.


The Deed of Gift is a vital part of the donation process and is critical for our records. Without the document, the ownership is not clearly defined which can cause issues down the road if CCHS possession is ever contested. The lack of a Deed of Gift means our collections are vulnerable. Signing Deeds of Gift ensures that CCHS obtains complete ownership over new acquisitions and that the items will remain in the care of CCHS.