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Education Law Articles - Fundraising

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Got a generous gift ... but can you use it?

Two very generous donors gave $250,000 and $861,217.50 to the Mulgrave School Foundation in 2008 to create an endowment supporting scholarships at Mulgrave School, a co-educational, independent, non-denominational school in West Vancouver.

The Foundation, with the consent of the donors, decided that it would instead apply these gifts towards the construction of the School’s Senior School Building project. Applying the money in this way was going to save the School about $200,000 in interest.

However, there was a catch:

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Not-for-profits receive poor grades in study of online fundraising

Charities are creating significant barriers to potential donors making online contributions, according to the first Online Fundraising Scorecard, an exhaustive study by Dunham+Company and Next After.

The study is the most comprehensive of its kind focusing on the online donor experience, giving most not-for-profits a failing or mediocre grade when scored against the tested and proven online best practices. Of the 151 organisations who were part of the study, 127 scored 75 percent or below.

This study has much to offer educational institutions and those who work at online fundraising in them. The study examined 46 key indicators in four critical parts of online fundraising: email registration, email communication, the donation experience and the gift acknowledgement process.

Visit the following link to obtain a free copy of the Dunham+Company online fundraising study.

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ATO School Building Fund Ruling

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) released its final ruling on school building funds on 13 February 2013.

It had released a draft ruling on this topic in December 2011. The draft ruling stated that a school building fund could receive tax deductible gifts if it was constructing or maintaining buildings which were used solely as a school - any other use of the building could only be minor or occasional. This “principal purpose test” was in contrast to the “more than 50% test” which was in place prior to the issue of the draft ruling. Under this rule, a fund could receive tax deductible gifts if it was constructing or maintaining buildings which were used as a school at least 50% of the time.

The ATO received many submissions from the public in response to its draft ruling. Its final ruling, named TR 2013/2, incorporates many of the issues and ideas which were raised in the public submissions, and departs from the “principal purpose test”.

The new test described in TR 2013/2 is as follows:

  1. there must be a school organisation;
  2. there must be a building used as a school;
  3. a building’s use as a school must be:
    a. substantial;
    b. non-school use must not be of a kind, frequency or relative magnitude as to
    preclude the characterisation as a school;
    c. non-school use must not materially limit, detract from or otherwise be incompatible
    with school use; and
    d. where a church carries on a school it is relevant the extent to which the school is
    able to control the use of the building.

The ATO also included transitional provisions which will apply to funds which existed prior to 13 February 2013.

if you would like more information on how this ruling will impact your organisation or fund.


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