Q. 1. What is the Catholic Church policy when someone donates an amount of money and attaches a condition to the donation? For example, what if the person said the money was to be used to build a Church camp for the children, or use the money for a certain renovation within the Church? And does it make a difference if the money is given when the person is living versus when they are dead, the donation having been left in the Will?
A. 1. In the Code of Canon Law, there is a section that deals specifically with that matter. Funds received from contributions of the living or the dead must be administered according to the intent of the donor if it is lawfully accepted.
Can. 1300 "The legitimately accepted wills of the faithful who give or leave their resources for pious causes, whether through an act inter vivos or through an act mortis causa, are to be fulfilled most diligently even regarding the manner of administration and distribution of goods, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1301, §3."
Can. 1301 §1. "The ordinary is the executor of all pious wills whether mortis causa or inter vivos."
Can. 1301 §2. "By this right, the ordinary can and must exercise vigilance, even through visitation, so that pious wills are fulfilled, and other executors are bound to render him an account after they have performed their function."
Whatever the purpose of the contribution, if a gift cannot be used as outlined by the donor, the gift must be refused. For that reason, prior to donating a large amount of money, either in a will or outside of a will (while living), the potential donor should approach the Pastor and determine (1) the existence of the need and (2) assurance that the project shall be implemented in accordance to the conditions of the donation.