Charities in the Courtroom, Part 7: Yanking Money from Tight Fists

“You can’t get blood out of a stone.” Apparently, that idiom was “first recorded in Giovanni Torriano’s Second Alphabet, 1662: “To go about to fetch bloud out of stones, viz.  to attempt what is impossible.” Times have changed. There are much better lawyers in 2017.   Breach of Contract Lawsuit With a Marital Twist Like many other states, Illinois has had trouble recently making ends meet. For at least two years Read More

Patient Advocacy Nonprofits’ Dark Ties to Industry

In recent years, the secretive relationships between healthcare businesses and physicians have been exposed, leading to some much-needed reforms of the sordid practice of doctors being paid to direct patients to certain prescription drugs or to medical products or services. Two new studies - just announced in the national media - may bring needed sunlight to another unsavory trend: the incestuous connections between Read More

Executive Orders, Protest Rallies: What’s a 501(c)(3) To Do?

Recently, the big news about the politics ban on 501(c)(3) organizations is that it may disappear. Update: On May 4, 2017, the President issued an executive order that referred, in part, to the politics ban in section 501(c)(3), the so-called "Johnson Amendment." Whether that document will have any significant effect on the existing politics ban is being evaluated by, and discussed among, legal and philanthropy Read More

MacArthur $100-Million Contest Semifinalists Announced

Early last summer, we reported in “The MacArthur $100-Million Grant Contest,” on the launch by the highly regarded MacArthur Foundation of an exciting contest: there is to be a $100-million award for a “single proposal that will make measurable progress toward solving a significant problem. “Big problems require bold solutions.” That was the pitch for “proposals from any sector” with  no preferred “single field or Read More

Charities in the Courtroom, Part 6: Audacious Embezzlement

So far in this series about litigation involving charities, we’ve focused on civil cases. Here, we remind you that nonprofits are also involved in criminal matters - if only peripherally - as the injured parties. Unfortunately, these two examples are just a drop in the bucket of the far-too-many examples of good organizations fleeced by bad people.   Garden Variety Fraud by Nonprofit’s Office Manager Mountain States Read More

Foundation Penalties: Reasonable Cause Exception?

Because private foundations receive financial support from a single source only or just a few sources, they are subject to much more significant restrictions than public charities. There are rules on how they operate and how they manage and distribute charitable dollars. If they fail to follow these rules, the IRS may impose significant penalties. For instance, “self-dealing” transactions with “disqualified persons” Read More

What, Exactly, is a “Suggested Donation”?

When charity board members or staff sit around a conference table planning their next fundraising special event, the discussion inevitably turns to how much to charge. When a price is determined, it’s not uncommon, especially in smaller organizations, for someone to recommend that the amount be described in publicity materials or on tickets as a “suggested donation” amount of $X. In another conference room somewhere Read More

Charities in the Courtroom, Part 5

The two lawsuits highlighted this month provide more examples of the wide range of issues that take charities into the courtroom. The first is a San Francisco nonprofit that was damaged by an eminent domain proceeding, this case makes new precedent in California; namely, that a nonprofit can sue for lost goodwill - just like the well-established rule in connection with for-profit businesses. The second litigation Read More

What’s the Latest with the Overtime Rules?

Back in May 2016, millions of Americans were handed a very large raise in pay, to be effective on December 1, 2016. It was all because the United States Department of Labor announced final overtime regulations to dramatically increase the number of employees nationwide eligible to receive time-and-a-half when they have to work long hours. This package of revised regulations altered the - compensation requirements Read More

Social Media Policy: Now, More Important Than Ever

Part of the New Year’s recommended checkup for each nonprofit is a review of existing governance policies and a plan to adopt ones that are missing. A written social media policy is often omitted from suggested governance document lists, because the explosion and huge impact of social media is so new. In an earlier post, we noted that “[s]ocial media has been described as a ‘Wild West’ that nonprofits must ‘tame.’” Read More