Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, September 19, 2022

The Battle Over the Women’s Center at D.C.’s Sibley Hospital

SibleyWhat do nonprofit institutions owe donors who have given money for a specific project? That is the key question at the core of the battle over the Women’s Center at Sibley Memorial Hospital.

The Johns Hopkins Women’s Health Center was supposed to break ground in the summer of 2018, largely due to the fundraising efforts of many women in the Washington D.C. area who were excited to support a Sibley-based center that would serve their entire community. However, four years later, the center has still not come to fruition. 

Sibley Memorial Hospital has a reputation as being Washington’s “hospital for the stars,” and spent several years raising funds that many donors believed were “restricted funds” for a Women’s Center. This type fundraising sets aside monies for a designated purpose and is to be used for this designated purpose only. However, after accepting these donations, the hospital decided to go in another direction. While the hospital is permitted to change direction, best practices dictate that the hospital should have contacted donors to either offer refunds or re-direct their donations.

Many donors have reported that they have not been given this opportunity and instead have been left feeling devastated. The volunteers put in hundreds of hours of their own time working on the plans for the center, putting together fundraising events, and soliciting donations from the community and felt that their reputations were now put on the line.

“I don’t want my money back, I just want them to be held accountable.”

For more information see Alicia Mundy “The Battle Over the Women’s Center at D.C.’s Sibley Hospital” The Washington Post, September 7, 2022.

Special thanks to Deborah Matthews (Virginia Estate Planning Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.


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