Our museum received a large charitable bequest with no specific direction attached. How can we use it?

The museum board is split on how they'd like to see the money used. Some board members want to see the money used for wages and operational expenses, and others on the board would prefer it be used to preserve artifacts and add to the museum's collection.

Katalina

Katalina

Vancouver, BC

Under this BC law, funds received by a charity should not be used to pay for operational costs of the charity unless the donor explicitly allows the charity to do so. The rationale is that funds received by a charity are given on the condition that the charity hold the funds in trust, to be used only to fulfill its charitable purposes (for example, the advancement of education, religion, and so on). 

Without explicit language in the charitable bequest to permit the funds to be used for operational costs such as salaries, to use the funds in that way is likely a breach of trust. Operational costs and overhead are not generally considered to be advancing a charitable purpose.

Nicco Bautista

Nicco Bautista

BMO Wealth Management
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Reviewed for legal accuracy in April 2021

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