May Donors Accept Free Tickets Received Due to a Foundation Grant?

A nonprofit has an exhibition that includes invitation-only receptions and preview parties. Individuals must become “sponsors” at a certain dollar level in order to attend these receptions and preview parties. A donor makes a grant to the nonprofit through their foundation that is equal to the sponsorship level. May the donor accept free tickets to these receptions and parties if the nonprofit mails them or offers them after receiving the grant?

This is really on the line between personal benefit and legitimate foundation business. If there isn’t a justification for the foundation to make the grant, you really shouldn’t use it for this purpose. For instance, if you are an education organization and this is the only grant you make to an arts organization, you should consider if it furthers your mission. If not, you should pay for it out of your own pocket.

But if it’s the type of organization the foundation would support, and you make that grant, and there’s a legitimate reason for being there, you can go. But this is an area that sounds like it’s starting to push that line.