Controversial Decision for Berkshire Museum

“What kind of ‘ethical code’ tells struggling museums it is better to go bankrupt than sell even one artwork to cover operating expenses?" That’s the question posed by University of Kentucky law professor Brian L. Frye, MFA, JD, in a recent Twitter thread about a controversy involving Berkshire Art Museum of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Reports of a decision by the financially beleaguered institution to deaccession Read More

A Form 990 Audit: What Triggers It?

It’s a classic “cart before the horse” scenario. Last year, in our 6-part When the Revenue Agent Comes Calling series, we discussed how the government official will use the IRS’s Form 14114, "Governance Check Sheet," to conduct an audit of your organization: An IRS revenue agent knocking at the door of a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt, organization will have in hand that agency’s Form 14114, Governance Check Sheet, that Read More

Patient-Advocacy Charities' Dark Ties: Updates

Recently, in Patient Advocacy Nonprofits’ Dark Ties to Industry, we highlighted the murky, questionable relationships of pharmaceutical companies with patient-advocacy groups. “Patient groups are supposed to represent patients,” we wrote. “But many have deep ties to industry.” The national media is now covering two new research projects uncovering “the incestuous connections between patient-advocacy groups and the Read More

MacArthur $100-Million Grant Finalists Announced

In the summer of 2016, we reported on the launch of an exciting $100-Million Grant Contest by the respected MacArthur Foundation. “Big problems require bold solutions” is the theme of this search for a “single proposal that will make measurable progress toward solving a significant problem.” The pitch was for “proposals from any sector” with  no preferred “single field or problem,” the sole parameter being that the Read More

What to Do With an Unusual Grant

Imagine a scene like this: A small group of people is celebrating the receipt that day of an IRS Determination Letter granting 501(c)(3), tax-exempt, status for their new community organization. They are still at the “sitting around a dinner table” stage because there hasn’t been time or the funds to set up office space. On the agenda for that evening is crafting a fundraising strategy to attract financial support Read More

Budget Issues Move to Center Stage

While the Administration wants to make taxes the focus of its post-recess legislative agenda, those hopes may be dashed by the reality of immediate budget and debt ceiling deadlines. Congress left for its annual August recess without tackling significant fiscal issues that affect the running of the country and the well-being of millions of citizens. Tax “reform” is a GOP wish-list item; the fiscal issues are Read More

Time for Nonprofits to Advocate for Themselves

From time to time, nonprofits and their advisors are invited to comment on proposed new regulations and rules proposed by government agencies. Currently, there is an important “public comment” period that should be of interest to nonprofits along with other employers nationwide; that is, the final regulations issued in May 2016 that make substantial changes in eligibility for overtime pay.  Specifically, these Read More

Disaster Relief: An Intro For 501(c)(3)s And Others

 In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, we can applaud the overwhelming outpouring of generosity of spirit and money to help the many in need. There’s been some chaos, though, in the mechanics of the disaster-relief effort. Now - with the 24-hour news cycle, the phenomenon of instant communication via social media, and the rise of ad-hoc fundraising innovations like crowdfunding - established relief Read More

Charity Fraud: State AGs Crack Down

Attorneys general around the nation are - now more than ever - high profile and newsworthy as they take on matters ranging from defying presidential executive orders to cracking down on criminal business conspiracies. They continue to work together as well to root out charity fraud and malfeasance, particularly if these activities cross state lines. Last year, all 50 state attorneys general cooperated in halting a Read More

501(c)(3)s Behaving Badly

There are hundreds of thousands of  501(c)(3)s in the United States. Most do great work and are operated cleanly and ethically. Others … not so much.    Case Study No. 1:  Tom and his Best Buddies New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady is rich: His estimated net worth is about $180 million or so. His wife, supermodel Giselle Bundchen, is worth almost double: about $360 million. “Like many successful celebrities, Read More