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Donations with Strings Attached

By Donald E. Skinner

Q. We had an awkward situation recently when our church sold a piece of furniture that a member had donated. The member felt we should have kept it. We felt that once it was donated it was the congregation’s to do with as it wished. Do other congregations have policies covering donated items?

A. The Unitarian Universalist Area Church (UUAC) (182 members) in Sherborn, MA, has a policy that has worked, says President Pat Manley. Donors are made aware of the policy when a gift is proposed and the policy is occasionally publicized churchwide for the benefit of all members. Here it is, in part: “All gifts... immediately become the property of the UUAC and are given with the understanding that the gifts have been donated with no restrictions, including restrictions on use, sale or disposal. Anyone wishing to donate items, including, but not limited to, furniture and furnishings, computer equipment, books and publications, with restrictions on their use, must obtain approval in advance from the executive committee.”

About the Author

Donald E. Skinner

Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.

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