Can I solicit “charitable donations” for my own personal profit?

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Can I solicit “charitable donations” for my own personal profit?

I want to petition 200,000 individuals to each donate $1 to my low-income family so we can afford to buy our first home. What legal obstacles do I need to overcome to accomplish this?

Asked on October 2, 2011 under Business Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you "just" want to ask individuals--or for that matter, business, charitable or nonprofit organizations, etc.--to contribute money to your family, you can do that--there are no obstacles. What you can't do is tell them the deduction is tax exempt, because it's not--the "charity" you describe is not, and will never qualify as, a tax exempt charity. You also can't mislead them about what they are contributing to or why. That said, you can honestly ask people to give to your family to help you buy a home, and if they do this, the money is yours (though important! remember that this will be taxable income to you, as well as not being tax deductible to the givers, so you'll need to pay the proper taxes on it). Some people have already done similar things, such as soliciting dondations to pay off student loans.


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