The very term charitable subscription indicates that the subscriber's promise is made as a gift and not in return for consideration. There is no bargain between the parties. Even if one were attempted it is open to doubt whether the acceptance or promise to accept a pure benefit-as a sum of money- can legally be sufficient consideration for a promise to confer the benefit;4 but this point need not be troublesome because no bargain of the sort is contemplated. Nor does it help the matter that a charitable subscription is generally not a promise to give money unconditionally but to give it for a certain object. A promise to give a tramp $20, for an overcoat is no more binding than a promise to give him $20 to spend as he pleases.5 Nor has the law generally accepted the principle that reliance on a gratuitous promise makes the promise binding.6 A promise to give a church a thousand dollars towards a new buildright exists to prove that fact by parol, as exists in any possible case, where the consideration alone of a contract may be attacked by parol. Under the second paragraph of reply, it may be proven that no sum whatever was received, and under the third paragraph, it may be proven that a sum was received, not at the time of, or as the consideration for, the execution of the instrument, but at another time, though falsely, and colorably carried into the instrument." In Koppits-Mel-chers Brewing Co. v. Behm, 130 Mich. 649,653,90 N. W. 676, the court said: "If, as contended by the plaintiff, this writing contains the entire contract, and cannot be varied or added to by parol, it is a unilateral contract, \i. e, a gratuitous promise] which only becomes binding when the consideration therein mentioned is paid." 3Blum v. Mitchell, 59 Ala. 535;
Whitney v. Steams, 16 Me. 394; Frank v. Irgins, 27 Minn. 43, 6 N. W. 380; Jerome v. Whitney, 8 Johns. 321; Eastern Plank Rod Co. v. Vaughan, 20 Barb. 155, 14 N. Y. 546; Lessler v. De Loynes, 150 N. Y. App. Div. 868, 135 N. Y. S. 898 (contract under seal); Jones v. Holliday, 11 Tex 412, 62 Am. Dec. 487; Thrall v. Newell, 19 Vt. 202, 47 Am. Dec. 682; Bibelhauaen v. Bibelhauaen, 159 Wis. 365,160 N. W. 516.
4See supra, Sec. 103d.
5 In Martin v. Melee, 179 Mass. 114, 60 N. E. 397, Holmes, C. J., said: "Of course the mere fact that a promisee relies upon a promise made without other consideration does not impart validity to what before was void. Bragg v. Daniehon, 141 Mass. 195,196, 4N.E.622." See also Thome v. Deas, 4 Johns. 84.
6 See infra, Sec. 139.
Log, is equally gratuitous. Clear as this is, and though in England such a subscription is not binding,7 in the United States, on such a great variety of reasoning, as in itself shows the lack of any really valid consideration, charitable subscriptions have been held either contracts or offers to contract. The view most commonly held is that such a subscription is an offer to contract which becomes binding as soon as the work towards which the subscription was promised has been done or begun, or liability incurred in regard to such work on the faith of the subscription.8
Since the subscription in its inception is regarded as an offer, until the work has been done or liability incurred the subscription is revocable by death, insanity, or otherwise.9
7 In re Hudson, 54 L. J. Ch. 811. See also Reinhart v. Burger, 43 Ont. L. R. 120.
8 Young Men's Christian Assoc, v. Estill, 140 Ga. 291, 78 S. £. 1075, 48 L. R. A. (N. S.) 783; Miller v. Ballard, 46 111. 377; Trustees v. Garvey, 53 111. 401, 5 Am. Rep. 51; Richelieu Hotel Co. v. International Co., 140 111. 248, 29 N. E. 1044; University of Des-Moines v Livingston, 57 Ia. 307, 10 N. W. 738, 65 Ia. 202,21 N. W. 564, 42 Am. Rep. 42; McCabe v. O'Connor, 69 Ia. 134, 28 N. W. 573; First Church p. Donnell, 110 Ia. 5, 81 N. W. 171; Brokaw v. McEIroy, 162 Ia. 288, 143 N. W. 1087, 50 L. R. A. (N. S.) 835; Gittings v. Mayhew, 6 Md. 113; Cottage St. Church v. Kendall, 121 Mass. 528, 23 Am. Rep. 286; Sherwin v, Fletcher, 168 Mass. 413, 47 N. E. 197; Robinson v. Nutt, 185 Mass. 345, 70 N. E. 198; Albert Lea College v. Brown, 88 Minn. 524, 93 N. W. 672, 60 L. R. A. 70; Pitt v. Gentle, 49 Mo. 74; School District Kansas City v. Sheidley, 138 Mo. 672, 40 S. W. 656, 37 L. R. A. 406, 60 Am. St. Rep. 576; James v. Clough, 25 Mo. App. 147; Ohio, etc., College v. Love's Ex'r, 16 Oh. St. 20; Irwin v. Lombard Univ., 56 Ohio St. 9, 48 N. E. 63; sub nom. Irwin v. Webster, 36 L. R. A. 239 (cf, Johnson v. Otterbein Univ., 41 Ohio St. 527); In re Converse's Est., 240 Pa. 458, 87 Atl. 849; Young Men's Christian Assoc, v. Olds Co., 84 Wash. 630,147 Pan. 406; Hodges v. Nalty, 104 Wis. 464, 80 N. W. 726; Sargent v. Nicholson, 25 Dom. L. R. 638, 26 Manitoba L. R. 53; Young Men's Christian Assoc, v. Rankin, 27 Dom. L. R. 417. See also Lasar v. Johnson, 125 Cal. 549, 58 Pac. 161; Gait's Ex. v. Swain, 9 Gratt. 633, 60 Am. Dec. 311. The use of the defendant's subscription as an inducement to others to subscribe was held to make it binding in Board of Trustees v. Noyes, 165 Ia. 601, 146 N. W. 848.
9 Grand Lodge v. Farnham 70 Cal. 158, 11 Pac. 592; Pratt. v. Baptist Soc., 93 111. 475, 34 Am. Rep. 187; Beach v. First Church, 96 111. 177; Augustin v, Methodist Society, 72 111. App. 452; Davis v. Campbell, 93 Ia. 524, 532, 61 N. W. 1053; Sullivan v. Corbett, 3 Kans. App. 390, 42 Pac. 1105; Hel-fenstein's Est., 77 Pa. 328,18 Am. Rep. 449; First Church v. GUlis, 17 Pa. Co. Ct. 614. See also Reimensnyder v. Gans, 110 Pa. 17, 2 Atl. 425; cf. In re Converse's Est., 240 Pa. 458, 87 Atl. 849, where the court held that the fact that other subscriptions had been induced in reliance on the promise of a
The difficulty with this view is two-fold. In the first place, "if A says, 'I will give you, B, £1000' and B, in reliance on that promise, spends £1,000 in buying a house, B cannot recover the £1000 from A." 10 The detriment is incurred in reliance on a promise which on its face was intended as a gift and not a bargain. Moreover, if the subscription could be treated as requesting a consideration, the consideration requested is certainly not beginning work or incurring liability, but doing the whole work toward which the subscription was made. Therefore, if the subscription was an offer at all, it would not ripen into a contract until the work had been done.11 It is held in other jurisdictions that the promise of each subscriber is supported by the promises of the others.12 The difficulty with this view is its lack of conformity to the facts. It is doubtless possible for two or more persons to make mutual promises that each will give a specified amount to a charity or other object,13 but in the case of ordinary charitable subscriptions, the promise of each subscriber is made directly to the charity or its trustees, and it is frequently made without any reference to the subscriptions of others. If induced at all by previous or expected subscriptions, this inducement only affects the motive of the subscriber; it cannot be said that the previous subscriptions were given in exchange for the later one. Indeed the earlier subscriptions would be open to the objection of being past consideration so far as a later subscription was concerned. The case is no better if the subscriptions are made conditional upon a certain amount being subscribed, this requirement must ordinarily be consubscriber made his promise irrevocable by death.
10In re Hudson, 64 L. J. Ch. 811, by Pearson, J.
11 See supra, Sec. 60.
12 Christian College v. Hendley, 49 Cal. 347; Owenby v. Georgia Baptist Assembly, 137 Ga. 698, 74 S. E. 56; Higert v. Trustees of Indiana Asbury University, S3 Ind. 326; Petty v. Trustees of Church of Christ, 95 Ind. 278; Alien v. Duffle, 43 Mich. 1, 4 N. W. 427,38 Am. Rep, 159; Congregational Soc v. Perry, 6 N. H. 164, 25 Am. Dec 455; Edinboro Academy v.
Robinson, 37 Pa. 210,78 Am. Dec. 421. See also First Church v. Fungs, 126 Mich. 670, 86 N. W. 235; Homan v. Steele, 18 Neb. 652, 26 N. W. 472. See also Hodges v. Nalty, 104 Wis. 464, 80 N. W. 726, 113 Wis. 567, 89 N. W. 536; Hodges v. O'Brien, 113 Wis. 97, 88 N. W. 901.
13 Tweddle v. Atkinson, 1 B. & S. 393; Rogers v. Galloway College, 64 Ark. 627, 44 S. W. 454, 39 L. R. A. 636; Lasar v. Johnson, 125 Cal. 549, 58 Pac. 161; LaFayette Corporation v. Ryland, 80 Wis. 29, 49 N. W. 157.
strued as merely a condition and not a consideration; though, here again, it is possible to make an offer to contract to pay a certain sum in consideration of subscriptions of a certain amount being obtained. In a few cases it has been held that the fact that other subscriptions had been induced by the subscription in question was a sufficient consideration;14 but this view is even more difficult to maintain than the others which have been stated. On no reasonable construction of the facts can it be said that a subscriber in an ordinary charitable subscription makes his promise in exchange for the promisee's inducing other subscribers to subscribe.
In still other cases it has been held that the acceptance of the subscription by the beneficiary or its representatives imports a promise to apply the funds properly, and this promise supports the subscribers' promises.15
It is doubtless true that the charity to which subscription is made, or the trustees of the charity, impliedly promise to apply the funds in accordance with the terms .of the subscription. But this promise is not made as the consideration or exchange for the subscriber's promise. A promise to give a trustee money in trust for another is no more binding than a promise to give the money directly to the beneficiary. In a few cases in the United States a tendency has been shown to restrict former authorities and treat charitable subscriptions as gratuitous and not binding.16 In truth the enforcement of charitable subscriptions is only to be supported if a promissory estoppel be regarded as a sufficient substitute for consideration.17 In a few decisions the court has frankly admitted that estoppel and not consideration was the ground on which recovery was allowed.18 The correctness of such decisions and the propriety of allowing a recovery on charitable subscriptions in any case where detriment had been incurred in reliance on them, must depend on the general allowance of such a promissory estoppel as an alternative for consideration.19
14Hanson Trustees v. Stetson, 5 Pick. 506; Watkins v. Eames, 9 Gush. 637; Ives v. Sterling, 6 Met. 310 (but this theory was discredited in Cottage St. Church v. Kendal], 121 Mass. 528, 23 Am. Rep. 286); Comstock v. Howd, 15 Mich. 237 (but see Northern, etc., R. v. Ealow, 40 Mich. 222); Irwin p. Lombard Univ., 56 Ohio St. 9,46 N. E. 63; In re Converse's Estate, 240 Pa. 458, 87 Atl. 849.
15 Barnett v. Franklin College, 10 Ind. App. 103, 697, 37 N. E. 427, 432; Collier v. Baptist Soc, 8 B. Mon. 68; Trustees v. Fleming, 10 Bush, 234; Trustees of Maine Central v. Haskell, 73 Me. 140; Helfenstein's Est., 77
Pa. 328, 331, 18 Am. Rep. 449; Trustees of Troy Academy v. Nelson, 24 Vt. 189.
16 Culver v. Banning, 19 Minn. 303 (but see Albert Lea College v. Brown, 88 Minn. 524,93 N. W. 672,60 L. R. A. 870); Presbyterian Church v. Cooper, 112 N. Y. 517, 20 N. E. 352, 8 Am. St. Rep. 767; Twenty-third St. Church v. Cornell, 117 N. Y. 601, 23 N. E. 177, 6 L. R. A. 807 (cf. Keuka College v. Ray, 167 N. Y. 96, 60 N. E. 325); Montpelier Seminary v. Smith's Estate, 69 Vt. 382, 38 Atl. 66 (cf. Grand Isle v. Kinney, 70 Vt. 381, 41 Atl. 130).