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

When the Revenue Agent Comes Calling: Conflict of Interest

The revenue agent who comes knocking at the door of a public charity will have at hand IRS Form 14114, Governance Check Sheet. Issued in 2009, it’s a 2-page audit guide divided into six separate sections, each focusing on a specific aspect of good governance. We reviewed the first section, “Governing Body and Management,” in “When the Revenue Agent Comes Calling: Part 1.” The next post in our series on Form 14114 Read More

Wounded Warrior Project: "So Many Lessons, …"

In 2003, former Marine John Mejia was determined to help wounded service members returning from the Iraq War. He had been injured near Somalia a decade earlier and recalled arriving at a military hospital with nothing more than his hospital gown. So Mejia started a small project to prepare and distribute backpacks with CDs, socks, and other comfort items for injured veterans. From this modest beginning, the Wounded Read More