A contribution is anything of value given to influence a federal election.
The most common types of contributions are:
- Gifts of money;
- Gifts of goods and services (“in-kind contributions”); and
- Loans and guarantees or endorsements of loans.
Cash contributions are limited to $100 or less. Contributions exceeding $100 must be made by check or other written instrument.
In-kind contributions include:
- Goods and services offered free of charge (other than volunteer activity).
- Goods and services offered at less than the usual and normal charge. (Discounts are not contributions, however, if they are offered in the ordinary course of business to both political and nonpolitical clients.)
- Payments by a third party for goods and services rendered to a candidate or political committee.
- Advances of personal funds.
The dollar value of an in-kind contribution is subject to limits and must be reported. The value of a particular in-kind gift is determined as follows:
- Goods (such as equipment, supplies, facilities and mailing lists) are valued at their normal purchase or rental price.
- Services (such as advertising, printing or consulting) are valued at the prevailing commercial rate at the time the services are rendered (i.e., the amount that was paid or would have been paid for the services).
- Discounts are valued at the amount discounted (i.e., the difference between the usual or normal charge and the amount paid by the committee).
Proceeds from fundraisers and sales
The entire amount paid to attend a political fundraiser or to purchase a fundraising item from a committee is a contribution. The amount of the contribution is not affected if a portion of the money was used to defray the expenses of the fundraising program.
Individuals may contribute to a PAC using credit cards.