Tag: charitable gifts

27 Sep

The Power of Testamentary Charitable Giving

Rebecca Kennedy Charities Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

This month marks the beginning of the Will Power campaign, led by the CAGP Foundation and the Canadian Association of Gift Planners.

Will Power is designed to show Canadians the power they have to make a difference with their Wills by leaving charitable gifts.

Many Canadians feel that if they leave a charitable gift in their Will, it will take away from gifts and support for their loved ones, who they also wish to benefit as part of their estate plan. But according to CAGP and the CAGP Foundation, leaving even 1% of one’s estate to charity can still “have an enormous impact on your cause, while still leaving 99% of your estate to your family…You don’t have to choose between your loved ones and the causes you care about when planning your Will.” The Will Power website has a helpful legacy calculator, which can help with visualizing what it means to leave a gift to charity, and still be in a position to benefit your loved ones.

Some people may think that they need to have a very large estate to be able to make a meaningful gift to charity. But regardless of the size of the gift, it can still make a difference. Will Power estimates that if only 3.5% more ordinary Canadians included a gift in their Will in the coming decade, the result would be $40 billion in gifts to charitable causes.

Another aspect of charitable giving to consider is the tax benefit of doing so. Depending on the nature of your assets at the time of your passing, and any estate planning steps, there could be significant taxes payable on death. Making a testamentary gift to a cause that is important to you could result in a reduction of the amount of taxes to be paid.

For more information, and helpful links, you can check out this press release from Will Power.

Thanks for reading,

Rebecca Rauws

 

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27 Aug

Charitable Pledges and Contractual Pitfalls

David M Smith Estate Planning Tags: , , 0 Comments

Planning one’s estate raises the question of what you want your legacy to be. It is a highly personal decision that does not have a correct answer. For some individuals, this can mean ensuring causes that are close and dear to their heart receive support from their estate. To this end, donations and charitable gifting are a common practice in wills.

In planning such gifts, it is important to ensure that the gifts are valid and enforceable. The testator’s best intentions can be undermined by the failure to comply with legal technicalities.

Testators may make gifts bearing certain conditions, such as having something named after them. Where these conditions are important to the testator, they should: (i) be communicated to the recipient of the gift to ensure they are willing and able to comply with the conditions, and (ii) set them out explicitly in the will.

The case of Brantford General Hospital Foundation v. Marquis Estate is an excellent example where a gift, with good intentions, ran afoul of contract law.

The testatrix and her deceased husband had been long time and generous donors to the Brantford General Hospital Foundation.

The testatrix had pledged, prior to her death, to donate $1,000,000.00  over a five year period. As part of this pledge, a facility was to be named after her family. However, she passed away shortly after the first instalment was paid, leaving $800,000.00 of the pledge unpaid. Her estate refused to pay out the remainder of the pledged funds and the Hospital initiated litigation.

Justice Milanetti ruled against the plaintiff, stating that a promise to subscribe to a charity is not enforceable in the absence of consideration. The promise to name a facility after the family was considered ancillary to the donation of $1,000,000.00  and not of vital importance, and as such, invalid as consideration.

Central to this determination, was that the idea for naming the facility originated from the Plaintiff and was subject to board approval.  The pledge was deemed unenforceable.

Where a testator has ongoing chartable intentions that they wish honored by their estate, it would be wise to review  the enforceability of these plans after their passing.

Thank you for reading and have a great day!

David M. Smith and Raphael Leitz

26 Feb

Can a Charitable Gift be Revoked by an Unsatisfied Donor?

Ian Hull Estate & Trust, Litigation Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

Once a donor has agreed to donate funds to a charitable institution, are they entitled to have any input as to how those funds are spent? Does that donor have any recourse if their funds are not being spent the way they envisioned? Faas v. CAMH, 2018 ONSC 3386, 2019 ONCA 192 provides some insight regarding these questions.

Facts

At the direction of its principal, Andrew Faas, the Faas Foundation agreed to donate $1 million to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and its fundraising arm (collectively “CAMH”). The funds were to establish a mental health program entitled “Well@Work”. Accordingly, Mr. Faas’ payments were to be made in installments of $333,000 each year for the next three years.

Mr. Faas signed a Donor Investment Agreement (the “DIA”) which outlined a proposal for the program. The DIA also provided that an annual status report was to be provided to Mr. Faas. Nearly one year into the development of the program, Mr. Faas informed CAMH that he was not satisfied with the program’s progress, the extent of reporting or the expenditure of the donation. The parties reached an impasse with regards to these matters and Mr. Faas refrained from making the remaining two payments. He also requested that CAMH forward any money not spent on the first installment to another Canadian agency. However, all of the money for the first year had already been spent by CAMH on the development of the program.

In response, Mr. Faas commenced an application based on section 6 of the Charities Accounting Act which provides:

(1) Any person may complain as to the manner in which a person or organization has solicited or procured funds by way of contribution or gift from the public for any purpose, or as to the manner in which any such funds have been dealt with or disposed of.

. . .

(3) Wherever the judge is of opinion that the public interest can be served by an investigation of the matter complained of, he or she may make an order directing the Public Guardian and Trustee to make such investigation as the Public Guardian and Trustee considers proper in the circumstances.

The Decision

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice found that there were no grounds on which to order the Public Guardian and Trustee (the “PGT”) to conduct an investigation because there was no identifiable public interest. Furthermore, no mischief was identified and nothing in the records indicated that CAMH had mismanaged the funds.

Justice Morgan stated that inquiries under the Charities Accounting Act should not be initiated lightly and that they should not “simply be for the sake of meddling.” They must only be invoked when real mischief to the public at large exists.

Mr. Faas’ complaint was not that CAMH had failed to use the donation for their own charitable objectives but that they did not use their donation in a manner that conformed to Mr. Faas’ personal vision. This did not go against public interest, but rather a private one.

The Ontario Court of Appeal agreed with the decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and dismissed the appeal.

Concluding Thoughts

Faas v. CAMH emphasizes that while an unsatisfied donor does have a potential recourse of asking the PGT to conduct an investigation under the Charities Accounting Act as to how their funds were spent, an investigation will not be initiated without some evidence of mismanagement. As such, once a donor has agreed to make a donation, and as long as the charitable organization is not mismanaging the funds, the donor cannot retract their donation simply because the organization is not strictly adhering to the donor’s vision.

Thanks for reading!

Ian Hull and Celine Dookie

17 Dec

Restricted charitable gifts: Be careful what you wish for

Arielle Di Iulio Charities Tags: , , , , , , , 0 Comments

With giving season upon us, the philanthropic impulse is stronger than ever. As prospective donors craft their charitable giving plan, they will endeavour to make their charitable contributions as impactful and rewarding as possible. Achieving this philanthropic goal requires careful consideration of the multitude of charitable giving options available to donors.

With more than 85,000 registered charities in Canada[1], there is no shortage of organizations to whom a prospective donor can donate. In addition, there are a variety of ways in which  individuals can donate to their charity of choice, as discussed by Suzana Popovic-Montag in her blog, “Giving money to charity? Know your options to maximize your impact”.

An important consideration that can influence how and to whom a person chooses to donate is what restrictions, if any, they wish to place on their gift. Accordingly, as one evaluates the charitable giving options available to them, they should think about whether they want to make a restricted or unrestricted gift.

Unrestricted and restricted gifts

An “unrestricted” charitable gift refers to a gift made towards a charitable purpose that is free  from any restrictions or limitations imposed by the donor. Unrestricted funds can be used by the donee charity in any way so long as the use of the funds supports the general charitable purposes of the organization.

On the other hand, donors may opt to restrict how their donations are used by the donee charity. These types of gifts are referred to as “restricted” or “donor-restricted” charitable gifts. As the name suggests, a donor places restrictions, conditions, directions or other limitations on their gift which constrains the use of the funds to a particular purpose, program, or project. In essence, a restricted gift can only be used for the specific charitable purpose to which it is devoted. Thus, restricted gifts have the effect of fettering the charity’s discretion in deciding where the donated funds will be allocated.

This article provides a more detailed comparison of unrestricted and restricted gifts: http://www.carters.ca/pub/article/charity/2006/tsc0421.pdf.

Charities have tended to prefer unrestricted gifts since their flexibility allows the charity to apply the funds wherever they are most needed. However, charitable organizations are increasingly recognizing that prospective donors may want a greater say in their charitable giving and might be inclined to give more if they have some certainty as to exactly how their gift will be spent. Restricted gifts can therefore be a useful tool to achieve one’s personal philanthropic goals, as well as to increase overall charitable giving.

Making a restricted gift

There are many ways in which a donor-restricted charitable gift can go awry, such as where:

  • the precise restrictions imposed on the gift are ambiguous and the charity consequently administers the funds in a way the donor did not actually intend;
  • the donor has given money to a very specific program or project within a charity which is not in need of funding or has been discontinued, and the surplus funds cannot be used for any other purpose; and
  • the charity amalgamates with another organization, or dissolves altogether, and transfers its remaining assets (including the restricted funds) to another charity that has a sufficiently different charitable purpose such that the organization can no longer give effect to the gift’s designated purpose.

In light of the above, there are certain precautions that a prospective donor should consider taking to ensure optimum impact of their restricted charitable gift.

A donor should refer to a charity’s gift acceptance policy for guidance on what types of restricted gifts a donor can give to the charity. In particular, a gift acceptance policy will usually prescribe what purposes or uses a donor can restrict their funds to. Gift acceptance policies may also specify what language will be accepted to confirm the donor’s charitable intent and what procedure will be followed when the donor’s charitable intent is unclear or cannot be carried out. For larger gifts, it is also advisable to meet with a representative from the potential donee charity to determine whether the organization’s gift acceptance policy coincides with the donor’s specific philanthropic goals.

Donation agreements and testamentary documents can also be drafted to contemplate scenarios in which the designated purpose of a restricted gift cannot be brought to fruition. Specifically, donors may want to consider adding to these documents a contingency that permits their gift to be used for alternate charitable purposes, or permits the donee charity to vary the restriction to a use that most closely corresponds with the donor’s original charitable intent.

Thanks for reading and happy holidays!

Arielle Di Iulio

 

[1] Everything you need to know about Canada’s charities and nonprofits (August 20, 2018), online: Imagine Canada <https://www.imaginecanada.ca/en/360/sector-stats>

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