Donor Intent Law Signed In Kansas


The State of Kansas recently took a significant step in ensuring nonprofit organizations respect the intentions of charitable gift givers. Prior to adjourning from its 2023 session, legislators in Topeka crafted and approved the Donor Intent Protection Act in a bipartisan fashion. 

Honoring wishes expressed by donors is an essential practice for healthy ministries and other nonprofits. Indeed, it is a critical element of ECFA’s Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship. Givers may signal their intent by responding to specific charitable appeals or communicating wishes along with their donation. In either case for ECFA members — as we explain in our seventh standard commentary — “Once the giver has indicated the intent for which the gift was given and the organization has accepted the gift, it is the organization’s responsibility to fulfill that intent, whether or not the gift fulfillment is required by law.” 

Nevertheless, respect for giver intent can become a contentious matter in the nonprofit community, particularly after the death of a major donor or over a span of time. The Philanthropy Roundtable, which has also placed a major emphasis on upholding donor intent, issued a report earlier this spring that noted, “History offers us an abundance of examples of philanthropists whose charitable intentions were manipulated or disregarded over time.” Highlighting research that suggests givers would be less likely to donate resources if they felt they could not trust an organization’s handling of gifts, this report argues that state laws could be strengthened to allow donors more clear recourse if they believe their wishes have been violated.

Ohio, in the spotlight for a prominent donor intent dispute at Ohio State University, considered donor intent legislation in 2021, but it ultimately passed on the matter. Kansas, however, took up the issue in this session and approved a bill that allows a donor or that individual’s legal representative a 40-year window to lodge a complaint in court within two years of identifying a breach of an explicit donation agreement. According to the legislation, a judge may then take a number of steps to restore the gift’s use to the original donor intent — but not return the gift to the donor or that person’s estate.

“This new law will help maintain trust between donors and the more than 18,000 nonprofits that serve Kansas communities,” said Elise Westhoff, president of Philanthropy Roundtable. “It will give donors more confidence that their intent will be respected by the endowments they support, which in turn will mean more giving and more resources going to those in need.”

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly signed the Donor Intent Protection Act into law last month, and it is now slated to come into effect on July 1. ECFA will monitor this and other related legislative efforts in capitals across the country even as we encourage ministries to be above reproach in honoring donor intent for any accepted gifts, regardless of state mandates.


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.