When a charitable organization cannot fulfill the terms of a charitable gift agreement, it must decide whether to keep a promise or meet a need. That is to say, a charitable organization can either preserve original donor intent, adhering to conditions placed on a gift, or it can attempt to modify the terms of the gift in order to budget and spend the funds more effectively. If an institution chooses to keep a promise, it might be stuck with a fund it cannot use because of conditions placed on the money at the time of the gift. In order to meet needs, however, the institution must go to court. Cy pres, the best tool available to such an organization, is a saving doctrine that allows courts to modify conditions placed on a charitable gift when the conditions have become either impossible or impracticable. What it means, however, for a condition to be impracticable is unclear.
Allison Anna Tait, Keeping Promises and Meeting Needs: Public Charities at a Crossroads, 102 Minn. L. Rev. 1789 (2018).