You are here

Must church split gift with others?

Your Legal Questions Answered

Must church split gift with others?

If a donor offers a gift to a church and suggests that a specific portion be given to other 501(c)(3) organizations and the church verbally agrees with the suggestions and accepts the gift, is the church obligated to forward the suggested portion of the gift to the other organizations?  

Does the church believe that its word is its bond?  Sounds to me as though the church made a verbal contract to split the gift with the others and would be legally obligated to do so.  It might be hard for the donor to prove the agreement, but reneging on the deal does not sound like the kind of reaction that you would expect from a charity, particularly a church.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


You are not permitted to use a gift with restrictions in any other manner than what the donor restrictions state. I believe there are criminal ramifications on using restricted gifts.

This is a good point.  I had assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that not a lot of money was involved and that neither the state attorney general nor the intended beneficiaries would think it worthwhile to sue.  But in Pennsylvania, at least, there is precedent for the criminal prosecution of a hospital executive who used funds held by the hospital in trust for educational and research purposes for general operating purposes in an attempt to avoid bankruptcy.   He was convicted of improperly using funds entrusted to the organization. –Don Kramer

Add new comment

Sign-up for our weekly Q&A; get a free report on electioneering