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May 12, 2016

Opinion: Charities Are Hamstrung by Restricted Donations

A prominent nonprofit adviser decries the practice of many large donors of limiting the use of their charitable dollars to particular high-profile projects in a commentary for the Financial Times.

Caroline Fiennes, an author and the head of consulting group Giving Evidence, writes that many philanthropists only “want to fund the glamourous stuff,” such as new buildings, specific projects, and front-line programs. She says charities consider such gifts less valuable on a dollar-for-dollar basis than donations with no strings.

Ms. Fiennes says the restrictions swell nonprofits’ administrative workload and reduce their flexibility, preventing them from deploying resources where may be most needed. “Perhaps [donors] feel that imposing restrictions gives them more control, which may increase effectiveness,” she writes. “If so, I think they are mistaken.”