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Returning Building Fund Contributions to Donors

Where the courts stand on disputes over designated donations.

McDonald v. Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, 2003 WL 1689618 (Mich. App. 2003)

Background. Most churches have established funds for specific purposes. Common examples include building funds and vehicle funds. Members are encouraged to donate funds for such projects, and donations are accumulated until the project is funded. Occasionally, donors will ask to have their contributions returned, often because the fund's purpose has not been implemented. Is a church required to return contributions to donors who request them under such circumstances? Very few courts have addressed this question, and so definitive guidance is lacking. A Michigan court addressed this issue in a recent case. This article will briefly review the facts of the case, summarize the court's ruling, and then assess the relevance of the case for church treasurers.

A recent case. A married couple donated $4,000 to their ...

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Posted:
  • July 1, 2003

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