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The Enforcement or Return of Donors' Designated Gifts

Article summary. Church members often make "designated gifts" to their church. Such gifts specify that the donated money or property be used for a designated purpose. There are two questions that often are associated with such donations. First, do donors have a legal right to enforce their designated gifts should the church decide to ignore the designation and use the donated money or property for some other purpose? Second, under what circumstances may donors compel a church to "refund" designated contributions to them? This article addresses these important questions in the light of the most recent legal precedent.

It is common for donors to make gifts to a church that designate a specific purpose. For example, donors frequently donate funds or property to a church's building fund, missions fund, benevolence fund, or a similar project. In some cases, a church does ...

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