Charity Regulators: Focus on Enforcement of Corporate Policies

“When government regulators meet,” we wrote in a recent post, “they make lists of the most pressing topics that keep them up at night.” One such list is a March 2017 article in The Nonprofit Times. There, the authors discussed five hot-topic areas that give regulators apoplectic fits these days: Governance & Compliance: Policy vs. Practice Scrutiny of Fundraising and Overhead Costs Solicitation and Use of Read More

San Francisco Charity Under Fire

She was everywhere on San Francisco’s social scene: the 78-year-old fashion diva with her enormous “statement” eyeglasses. Joy Venturini Bianchi was the face of nonprofit Helpers Community, Inc. Over 60 years ago, the respected organization was founded to assist people with developmental disabilities. For many years, it operated residential facilities for them in the city’s Richmond District. More recently, though, 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

Board Meetings and Minutes and More

As we edge up past the 200-blog-post milestone, we’re proud of the variety of topics covered. Some areas of interest to nonprofits have been covered a bit more extensively than others. For example, just last summer, we posted 8 times on the all-important politics ban in section 501(c)(3). After November 8th, though, the landscape changed dramatically; hence, our update in December 2016: “Maybe ‘Never Mind’ About The Read More

It's a New Year – Take a Look at Your Governance Policies

Starting fresh each January 1st, most of us adopt the same New Year’s resolutions that we had abandoned - unfulfilled - the year before. As we've posted previously, the “clean slate” concept so appealing to individuals is a serious and critical aspect of prudent organizational management. At least once a year, each nonprofit - large or small - should conduct a formal evaluation and review of its practices, systems, Read More

Nonprofit Hospitals at a Crossroads

Nonprofit hospitals straddle two worlds: philanthropy and health care. They are key players in both sectors, and are in the crosshairs of government regulators and watchdog groups. We have reported on the growing number of challenges by local governments around the U.S. to the long-standing and valuable property tax exemptions of nonprofits including hospitals. A recent decision from the New Jersey Tax Court “sent Read More

Financial Irregularities Discovered? Contact Authorities

In “Charities and Embezzlement,” we relayed the direct and unequivocal advice from the California Attorney General for a charity that learns about possible embezzlement: Upon learning that an employee has embezzled funds from the charity, the directors have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to try to recover the funds and to refer the matter to the local District Attorney for possible criminal prosecution. The Read More

Another Public University Foundation Under Fire

Sometimes called “slush funds” and “shadow corporations,” the foundations that support the nation’s public universities have been grabbing headlines recently: ones they would rather avoid. We highlighted some developments in “Foundations of Public Universities: Too Secretive?” “Public officials are raising questions about the spending practice of the nonprofit fundraising arms of public universities,” because “they Read More

CA Nonprofit Members: Statutory vs. Honorary

Founders of startup charities face key decisions well before submitting the documents for federal tax-exempt status. Should the proposed new organization incorporate - or operate as an association or a charitable trust? Should it be director-driven or member-driven? State law applies to these choices. Although there are many similarities in the nonprofit laws of the various jurisdictions in the United States, they Read More

Memberships in a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Lots of 501(c)(3) charities around the nation issue “memberships.” For certain groups - like parishioner-controlled churches - a voting membership form of governance is commonplace. For community institutions - museums and arts organizations, for instance - having a cadre of supporters make sense, and offering certain perks helps forge long-term relationships with these fans and donors. It’s not, though, always a Read More