As we told you before, organizations and donors alike need to be careful when a contribution is made. We recently got another reminder on this.
This time it wasn’t a true contribution, but a sale of real estate at a deeply discounted price. A land advocate, who died in 2005, sold the property to Johns Hopkins University subject to the condition that only part of the land could be developed for agriculture, academia, research and development and delivery of health and medical care and services.
There was no agreement between the University and the advocate about this restriction, but it was contained in the deed that conveyed the property. Now the University wants to develop a science center on the property and the advocate’s heirs are suing because they believe that this is not what the advocate intended.
The suit hasn’t made it to court yet, but we’ll keep you posted when it does. In the meantime, nonprofits should ensure that they know of all restrictions that accompany a gift or sale, and donors or sellers should make sure that their intentions are clear.