The furthest thing from the mind of any Charity or Non-Profit Organization is litigation.
Unfortunately, the reality is that Charities and Non-Profits are like any other corporation or business operating within Ontario and Canada and can find themselves in the unenviable position of being named as a defendant in a legal action or facing the choice of having to commence a legal action to enforce or ensure the rights of the Charity or Non-Profit.
Charities and Non-Profits, through planned giving or other bequests, are often left sizable donations from individual estates. This can give rise to legal action and claims from other beneficiaries named in the Will, or alternatively by individuals who believe that they should have been named as a beneficiary under the Will, rather than the Charity or Non-Profit. Many claims contesting the validity of a Will, also assert support claims against the Estate under the Succession Law Reform Act. Regardless of the type of claim asserted, all estate litigation claims have the effect of potentially and significantly reducing the value of the estate, which as a result significantly reduces the value of the gift to the Charity or Non-Profit from the estate.
Charities and Non-Profits may also find themselves in a dispute with their individual fundraiser(s) or fundraising entity, particularly in regard to how the funds raised will be allocated or used in accordance with the charitable objectives of the fundraiser. Many disputes have arisen between Charities and the Charities' companion foundations who fundraise, receipt, and steward the funds raised on behalf of the Charity. These separate and distinct foundations, often operating on behalf of, or under a licence agreement with the Charity, are generally completely separate entities, with a separate Board of Directors, with separate goals and objectives, which may not always be in unison with the goals and objectives of the Charity in which the donors' money was raised. These disputes can often be resolved without the intervention of the Courts, but increasingly judicial intervention is often required. Such disputes can be incredibly complicated and involve contractual and non-contractual issues stemming back 20 or more years when the entities were established.
More recently, Charities and Non-Profits have started to be named in legal actions as a result of a sizeable donation not being utilized in accordance with the donor's wishes, or the donor's perceived intentions in making the donation.
For example, country singer Garth Brooks recently commenced and won an action against a U.S. Hospital seeking his sizeable donation back. Mr. Brooks' donation was to be used to construct a new hospital wing, which the hospital verbally promised would be named after Mr. Brooks' late mother. The new wing was not dedicated in accordance with Mr. Brook's wishes and he sought, and was awarded, not only the return of his donation but damages equal to the value of his donation.
Any potential litigation against a Charity and Non-Profit is serious and needs experienced legal counsel who understands Charity and Non-Profit Law, such as Blumberg Segal LLP. Blumberg Segal LLP has represented thousands of Charities and Non-Profits in Ontario, Canada, and abroad.
Blumberg Segal LLP understands that litigation is the last thing that any Charity and Non-Profit wants to use donor money for, but often litigation is the only recourse to resolve a potential dispute. Our experience with Charities and Non-Profit litigation will assist in defending the rights of the Charity and Non-Profit in a cost-effective manner.
If you are a Charity or Non-Profit and have been named as a defendant in any legal action, or if you are contemplating legal action to enforce your rights as a Charity, Non-Profit or Fundraiser, please contact Blumbergs' Charity Law Litigation group at firstname.lastname@example.org at 416-361-1982 locally or toll free at 1-866-961-1982.