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Donors who have passed away

  • 1.  Donors who have passed away

    Posted 01-07-2020 08:11 AM
    Hi all,

    Is there a best practice for re-designating gift money that hasn't been spent after the donor has passed away? Do we need to get permission from the family members or the state? If so, how do we go about this?

    Any feedback is welcomed!


    Hannah Baskin
    Advancement Services, Hartwick College

  • 2.  RE: Donors who have passed away

    Posted 01-07-2020 08:23 AM
    Yes, you should get permission. Not doing so would violate the public trust. There was a long piece in this month's CoP about public confidence in nonprofit organizations declining.  Not following a donors direction while living or dead is a sure-fire way of giving prospective donors pause.

    John Taylor

    Big ideas; small keyboard

  • 3.  RE: Donors who have passed away

    Posted 01-07-2020 08:48 AM
    Edited by Hannah Baskin 01-07-2020 08:48 AM
    Thank you, John!

    If there are family members surviving the donor, is there a form they must fill out to redirect the money or do we just need something from them in writing? And if there are no family members, what do you recommend?

    Hannah Baskin
    Hartwick College

  • 4.  RE: Donors who have passed away

    Posted 01-07-2020 09:09 AM
    Do check the archives as this is a frequently discussed topic.

    You should keep in mind that you previously entered into a binding agreement with the original donor.  Therefore, whatever you do next should follow that format.  So if there was a gift, pledge, or endowment agreement you will want to reference that in the creation of an addendum or amendment.  I would ask Counsel for a template.

    If there wasn't anything quite as formal, I would ask Counsel to draft a new agreement for both parties to execute.

    When there isn't any family member or agent available, you will likely need to obtain relief and permission from you State Attorney's Office - or seek guidance for your state from your Center for Nonprofit Organizations if there is one.


    John H. Taylor
    John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC
    2604 Sevier St.
    Durham, NC   27705
    919.816.5903 (cell/text)

    Serving the Advancement Community Since 1987