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Nonprofit Law/Individual Fund Raiser



In January my husband and I found a horse that had been attacked and left to die. Animal control wanted to put it down so I put out an SOS on some forums that I network dogs on. I was able to get a caregiver and vet probono.

I created a Facebook fan page as well as a go fund me account. This spread like fire and it was on a local news station. We raised 8235 of which I have released 5220 to her caregiver which adopted the horse in February. In March she started demanding large amounts of money and has not provided me with any receipts. She has also slandered me across multiple social media platforms.

I am in no way comfortable giving her the remainding funds and I'd much rather give them back to the people that donated. As she has adopted the horse, all vet bills have been paid for and she is finacially responsible.

Are there any legal constraints in giving money back to people that donated?

ANSWER: No, there are no legal constraints in giving the money back to people who donated. As you did not establish a nonprofit entity that qualified for becoming a 501(c)(3) organization that would enable donors to deduct donations, the funds that the people gave are treated as "gifts" and not "donations".  Gifts may be returned.  I hope you did not indicate on your solicitations that donations were tax deductible.

Harvey Mechanic
Attorney at Law

P.S. This response is intended to be a general statement of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.

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QUESTION: No I did not state they were tax deductible. Does it matter how I give the money back? i.e in what format..paypal etc. If I give the last 2000 to the people that donated the last $2000?

There are no regulations relating to that issue.  You would only need to see if you made any agreements earlier with the people who gave the gifts as to your refund policy.  I don't suggest, however, that you use Paypal if you use their method that requires the payment of a fee to Paypal.

Harvey Mechanic
Attorney at Law

P.S. This response is intended to be a general statement of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.

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Harvey Mechanic


DO NOT GIVE ME INFORMATION THAT YOU WANT KEPT CONFIDENTIAL. I am an attorney and I volunteer time to answer general questions about U.S. Federal income tax issues of nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charities only. Those questions could be about establishing and maintaining legal requirements for such non-profit organizations in the United States, including Internal Revenue service filings and requirements. I will not be working on this free forum to answer questions about Nonprofit's possible unrelated or for-profit businesses or how to fill out forms. This forum is only for general questions about federal tax law, not as the law applies to your specific situation. If you do not make your question public then I will not be spending much of my donated time on answers that would not benefit the public. If you have other questions, please contact me at I will reply from my email. In any case, do not reveal confidential information to me until after I have contracted with you to provide personal legal services. My responses on this forum are intended to be general statements of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice, and do not create an attorney/client relationship. For me to consider your individual situation and how the law applies, I would need to gather extensive information about the situation. To search my previous answers you can do a Google search by "" without the quotes and then add your search terms before hitting enter.


I have been practicing law and especially the law of nonprofit organizations since 1990 when I was admitted to the New York Bar and I have maintained my status with the Bar since that time.


B.S. Columbia University in New York City, 1970

J.D. (Law Degree) Brooklyn Law School, 1990 -- Cum Laude.

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