"...when people see donor intent get ignored or twisted, it has to discourage philanthropy." Warren Buffet, March 19, 2007, Fortune
The majority of charitable gifts are restricted in some fashion. That's why upholding the principle of "donor intent" is essential to the future of philanthropy and should be an issue of importance to successful nonprofits.
Donor intent, which has been in the spotlight in recent years, is the principle that when a gift is given to and accepted by a nonprofit organization for a specific purpose, the gift must be used for that purpose unless the donor or his or her legal heirs give the recipient institution permission to "repurpose" the gift, or a court finds that the original purpose is either "illegal, impossible or impracticable."
Donors and nonprofits alike need to understand the purposes, limitations and obligations of "restricted" gifts and need to make every effort to ensure that promises made are promises kept.
Charities that publicly endorse the Donor Bill of Rights, which says that donors have the right "to be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given," are the charities astute donors should consider in their giving programs.
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