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Archive for January, 2012


Let’s put that in writing!

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There’s been quite a bit in the news lately about the ongoing lawsuit between Garth Brooks (mega-wealthy country music sensation with questionable facial hair) and the Integris Canadian Valley Regional Hospital. . . all over a little $500,000 misunderstanding.  It’s an unfortunate situation for both parties, and in the end nobody is going to be happy.

Long story short, Garth made a gift to the hospital.  Garth wants a refund.  They don’t want to give it to him.  And soon, it looks like a judge will decide who wins.

Brooks claims his $500,000 gift to the hospital was in honor of his mother, Colleen Brooks, and in return the hospital agreed to name a women’s center after her.  He insists that the good folks at the hospital showed him renderings of the building with her name on it.  The hospital has stated that they made no such promises, and the gift was made with no strings attached.  Obviously somebody is either lying or there was a heck of a misunderstanding.

We may never know the full story behind this significant blunder, but I’d bet both parties are at fault.  Situations such as this can be avoided with careful documentation, contact reports, written proposals and careful cultivation and clear communication throughout the process.  I’m guessing some of all of this was lacking.  In the end, there should have been a detailed gift agreement that included key components of the gift structure, use of funds and any acknowledgement requirements.  If that doesn’t exist, shame on the hospital for not putting everything in writing.  And shame on Garth (or his representatives) for not requiring it.

Paperwork isn’t fun.  But situations like this help demonstrate the value of keeping good records and documenting everything throughout the fundraising cycle.  I bet the phrase ‘let’s get that in writing’ will be going through both parties’ heads during any future philanthropic transactions!


UPDATE:  The judge ruled that the hospital is to give Garth his money back.

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