Friday, September 4, 2009

Another Donor Intent Case

The Nonprofit Times reports that a New Orleans judge has ruled in favor of Tulane University in a donor intent dispute.  The plaintiff is the great niece of a donor who more than a century ago left a large bequest to Tulane so that it might establish a women's college.  The college existed for more than a century, but during a post-Katrina reorganization Tulane decided to close it down and replace it with an institute that would focus on similar issues.  (This is similar, I believe, to what happened a few years ago to Radcliffe College.)

This is another in a long string of recent cases -- many involving universities -- where donors or their heirs have challenged charities' use of donated monies.  I enjoy referring to these cases in my Nonprofit Law class because they illustrate the fact that US nonprofit law is still a befuddling mix of corporate and trust law doctrines.  Visitation rights applied to corporations?  Quasi cy pres?  They find it stimulatingly unpredictable and confusing.


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