Buyer's Remorse: The Roberston's Family Princeton Saga

Donors expect follow through and transparency from their grantees. If a donation was made to fund a project over a certain period of time, then the donor expects the funds to be used solely for the intended cause. According to some, especially the Robertson Family, a statue of limitation does not exist for donations. In 1961, Charles and Marie Robertson donated $35 million to establish a foundation at their alma mater, Princeton University. The foundation's aim was to train and place students in government services. By 2008, the $35 million grant ballooned to $850 million, representing a big portion of Princeton's overall endowment.

The children of Charles and Marie Robertson disapproved of the way Princeton was using the funds. They believed that the money was being used for endeavors unrelated to the original mission of the donation. The Robertson family sued Princeton University and a six-year legal battle ensued. In 2009, the Robertson Family Foundation dissolved and Princeton agreed to pay their $90 million legal fee and allocated an additional $50 million to the Robertson family to establish another foundation independent of Princeton.

What does this mean for the nonprofits? Do donors have the right to audit grantees 40 years after making a donation? Doug White in his new book, Abusing Donor Intent, explores these questions while writing a well researched and detailed account of the legal battle between Princeton and the Robertson family.