We have a 501(c)(3) youth sports program. Some members of the board want to allow restricted gifts to the organization for the purpose of paying a specific player’s fees to participate. I have an ethical issue with this type of restriction but is it a valid opportunity?
You may accept the gift but you may not acknowledge it as a charitable contribution. It is not a charitable contribution when designated for the benefit of a specific individual.
It might be deductible if you create a general scholarship fund and make scholarship selections on an objective basis without regard to the donor of the funds or the donor’s wishes, and without making grants to those related to the decision-makers. You ought to notify the IRS if you undertake such a program, however, and, both as a legal and ethical matter, should not acknowledge as contributions any gifts that are earmarked for the benefit of a specific individual.