Jack Salmon in Richmond Times-Dispatch: To Preserve Philanthropy in Virginia, Protect the Donors 

In an op-ed published March 3, 2024 by Richmond Times-Dispatch, Philanthropy Roundtable Director of Policy Research Jack Salmon writes that according to the recently published 50-State Analysis, Virginia is lacking protections for donor intent. Salmon says to help build the trust between donors and charities, Virginia lawmakers should look toward recently enacted laws like the Kansas Donor Intent Law, which was passed last year. 

Below are excerpts from the article “To Preserve Philanthropy in Virginia, Protect the Donors”: 

 “Virginia may be for lovers, but of late, it is not for charitable givers. As one of the top 10 most charitable states in the nation, Virginians generously donate almost $6 billion to charities every year, with the average Virginia donor giving almost $4,000 a year to causes they support. 

These charitable dollars support a variety of philanthropic causes, from food banks and homeless shelters to local churches and environmental initiatives. But from debates over disclosure laws in Richmond to the glaring gaps in safeguarding donor intent, Virginia stands at a crossroads, facing the imperative task of protecting its philanthropic landscape. 

While the legislature considers forcing givers’ private information to become public, a newly released report finds that when it comes to ensuring donors charitable gifts are used as intended, Virginia falls short.” 


“The 50 State Analysis reveals that while most states provide a limited (albeit weak) legal protection of donor intent, Virginia laws are less protective than most. The Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA) allows charities to modify the use of donated funds less than $25,000 if a period of at least 20 years has passed since the funds were gifted.   

But Virginia laws are less protective of donor intent than UPMIFA. For example, charities can unilaterally modify funds for gifts of up $50,000 or even as high as $250,000 if the attorney general agrees the original intent of the gift is no longer practical. In other words, Virginia law takes the already weak UPMIFA protections and makes them 10 times weaker.” 


“To ensure the continued generosity of Virginia donors, policymakers in Virginia should take a page from the Kansas book and look to protecting donor intent.” 

To read the complete article, please visitRichmond Times-Dispatch

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