A Legal Framework for Informal Public Appeal Funds

Appeals to the public for donations are very often made spontaneously when disaster strikes or when funds are needed for a cause that excites public sympathy. Unlike fundraising campaigns by organized charities, these informal public appeals are often carried out with little planning. Sometimes it is not possible to use the entire fund raised by the appeal for the original purpose. For example, more money may be raised than is needed, or the need may be met in other ways, or the need may simply disappear. How the surplus may be handled is, surprisingly, a complex legal question and in certain cases, the present law provides no solution. Legislative action is unlikely, despite detailed recommendations made in the past to fix the problem. The aim of the Project on Informal Public Appeal Funds was to arrive at a practical solution for dealing with surplus funds created by informal public appeals that does not require legislation.

Keywords: trusts and trustees, volunteers, charity, legal needs & innovative solutions

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