What to Do With Leftovers: Collecting Earmarked Donations Through Mobile Payment Apps
32 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2021
Date Written: January 24, 2021
With the rise in mobile payment applications, charitable donations using these platforms are increasing; equally, the use of a conduit between a donor and a charity to solicit and collect donations for the charity's benefit is growing. If a charity is overfunded or the charitable purpose is no longer available, the conduit is caught holding a pool of designated donations without the ability to contact the donors for permission for a similar or alternate use. Using the Internal Revenue Code requirements, the authority and regulations are not apparent for a charitable contribution through a conduit, particularly not for a conduit’s use of a mobile payment application. Part I of this Comment provides an overview of the conduit situation and the complications that arise. Part II introduces the requirements of a charitable contribution and the services that mobile payment applications offer. Part III analyzes three donation methods: a contribution directly to a 501(c)(3) organization, a contribution to an individual, and a contribution to a 501(c)(3) organization through an individual. Part IV examines the potential solutions to the issue of overfunded charities and the motivations behind each. Finally, Part V offers a brief overview of the prevalence of the issue and the future of mobile payment applications. The interaction of the detailed requirements of the Internal Revenue Code for a charitable contribution and mobile payment applications’ privacy policies, without clear authority or direction on the specific conduit situation, has the potential to be problematic and challenging for the contributor, conduit, charitable organizations, and mobile payment applications.
Keywords: Donations, Taxation, Earmarked Donations, Mobile Payment, Applications, Venmo, Charity, Social Media, Charitable Contributions
JEL Classification: K34, E42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation