Georgia law expands protections for donors' privacy and confidence that their gift will be used as intended.

Two new laws bring good news for charitable giving in Georgia

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Key Points

  • Georgia lawmakers passed two new bills in 2024 that strengthen protections for charitable giving in Georgia. 
  • The Donor Intent Protection Act allows donors to file a legal complaint if their gift is misused. 
  • The Personal Privacy Protection Act protects individuals from having their personal information publicly disclosed by the government when they volunteer for or financially support a cause. 

Guest post by Megan Schmidt, senior director of government affairs at Philanthropy Roundtable

There are over 64,000 nonprofit organizations in Georgia, and in 2021 Georgia donors gave $9.4 billion to charity, according to the IRS. These generous donations to charitable organizations are about to get important protections under two bills passed by the state legislature in 2024.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed the Donor Intent Protection Act and the Personal Privacy Protection Act into law. Both pieces of legislation offer donors and charities new avenues to ensure the proper use of donations, while safeguarding donors’ right to privacy in giving.

The two bills offer legal protections for donors and nonprofits to ensure charitable giving can continue freely and effectively in the state. When donors are free to give where and how they choose without fear of their information being unfairly released or their donations being misused, charitable organizations are better suited to help those who need their support.

The Donor Intent Protection Act

Sponsored by Sen. Bill Cowsert (R), the Donor Intent Protection Act passed the legislature on a strong bi-partisan vote, co-sponsored by Sen. John F. Kennedy (R) and Rep. Matt Reeves (R).

The Donor Intent Protection Act provides a legal pathway for donors to enforce written endowment agreements. Donors may give to a charitable endowment with specific written instructions for how they would like their gift used or invested.

Prior to this bill, when a charity agreed, accepted the gift and then violated the agreement, donors had no legal standing or recourse to enforce their written agreement. But under the Donor Intent Protection Act, donors now have the ability to file a legal complaint in court if their gift is misused.

This protection encourages giving and benefits donors, charities, and the many individuals served by nonprofit organizations in Georgia. It also bolsters levels of trust between donors and charities by adding an extra layer of protection for donor intent. Donors can give freely and generously without concern their mutually agreed upon instructions will be violated.

The Personal Privacy Protection Act

The second bill, the Personal Privacy Protection Act, also earned bipartisan support and protects individuals who volunteer or give to causes they care about from having their personal information publicly disclosed by the government.

The ability for donors to give privately to causes they believe in is a First Amendment right that historically has been upheld. In the 2021 Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld donor privacy and concluded that California’s bulk collection of nonprofit donor information was unconstitutional.

Georgia donors should be able to give privately to causes they care about without fear of retaliation or public exposure. Whatever their motivation for privacy, this bill is aligned with the U.S Supreme Court decision and makes any unlawful disclosure of this information a misdemeanor under the law. This also provides protection for nonprofits from being forced to release their donor and member lists to government agencies and officials.

Laws Like These Encourage Generosity in Helping Our Neighbors and Communities

Donors give to nonprofits whose cause and mission they support. With the enactment of these two bills, Georgians can continue donating generously without fear their wishes will be violated or their identity disclosed.

The Donor Intent Protection Act is now law in three states and the Personal Privacy Protection Act is now law in 19 states. The protections offered by both bills will encourage donors to remain generous with their resources more than they might otherwise be.

Donors in states without these protections face uncertainty when they give because they don’t have the reassurance their identity is protected or that the court will grant them legal standing in the case of a violation.

Georgia is primed to move forward with a healthy charitable giving environment with the passage of these two bills so communities in need around the state can benefit from the generosity of Georgians.

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