“Ex-Officio Director”: What Does That Mean?

In “Bylaws are Sometimes Like a Decades-Old Hairstyle,” we pointed out that many nonprofits continue to operate, year after year, under the same bylaws that were prepared and adopted when the organization was formed. In some cases, these crucial operating rules have remained the same for 25 years, or even 50 years or longer. Why is that a problem?  Organizational missions evolve, circumstances change, and groups grow Read More

Payroll Taxes: The One Payment a Nonprofit Should NEVER Skip

It happened to the Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina. The 25-year-old organization had a long-standing contract with Wade County, North Carolina.  But in 2012 and 2013, the nonprofit began to have some financial difficulties. In order to “manage” these problems, the organization did something “excruciatingly common.” It missed payment on payroll taxes to juggle and pay other outstanding bills. But the Internal Read More

Appreciating Volunteers: How Much is Too Much?

At a recent presentation we gave to nonprofit practitioners, the topic of providing gift cards to say "thank you!" to volunteers arose. Most attendees were surprised at how complex such a simple prospect could be for a nonprofit. Could it be viewed as compensation or a taxable event to the recipient?      Classification: When the Volunteer becomes an Employee or Independent Contractor In “Volunteers: A Primer of Read More

A Recipe for How To Get Noticed by the California Attorney General

Recently, two fellows in Napa, California, have been cooking up a hearty feast of trouble. But the saga began in 2004 when an elderly gentleman - let’s call him Mr. A - set out to get his affairs in order. Mr. A had done well for himself. His Napa residence and a substantial investment account were together valued at over $2 million. He had no heirs but wanted his estate to assist needy students with scholarships. Read More

A New Accounting Rule: But Don’t Sleep Through This One

It comes from one of the least exciting agencies in the nation’s capital.  Buzzwords are “overhead” and “reasonable indirect costs” and “cost allocation rules.” It’s a long-awaited overhaul of federal grant-making rules. “‘What a snooze!’ you say?” “Not so fast,” we say. This was an enormous holiday present for two years in a row to the nonprofit community.  All wrapped up with a great big bow, it was delivered on Read More

Just One More Thing About Meetings and Minutes

You probably thought we’ve told you all you need to know about charity board meeting minutes in “Breach of Duty by Ogling the Doughnuts,”  “Fun Facts About Corporate Minutes,” and “Nonprofit Corporate Minutes: What Not To Do.” There’s just a bit more. It’s about motions and resolutions. They aren’t the same.  All resolutions start out as motions, but not all motions end up as resolutions. The distinction is Read More

Nonprofit Corporate Minutes: What Not to Do

Let's say there's a contest to find great examples of  nonprofit corporate meeting minutes. Well, there are some sure-fire ways to make sure you don't make the cut. The commentators we cited in “Breach of Duty by Ogling the Doughnuts,” and “Fun Facts About Corporate Minutes”  offer useful tips for avoiding common mistakes and trouble spots. Failing to Document That a Quorum Was Present Simply put, if there is no Read More

Breach of Fiduciary Duty by Ogling the Doughnuts

Admit it. You’ve done it. The corporate secretary is asking for approval of the minutes from the last meeting. But you’re busy deciding between the maple-glazed doughnuts and the chocolate-topped ones. So is everyone else around the conference table. Nonprofit Minutes: One More Worry Sometime later, your organization gets an audit notice from the IRS. What do you think the agent will want to see? Financial records? Read More

Back to the Wild West of Social Media: Who Owns the Accounts?

There’s a good reason why even social media experts describe this phenomenon as an “untamed wild west.” Social media is a new form of communication relayed across cutting-edge technological platforms. And the power to communicate has become more democratic: individuals, rather than just big organizations, have access to the medium as well as the message. Nonprofits - along with businesses and government - are Read More

"It Seemed like a Good Idea at the Time."

In “Next Time, Let’s Just Text in our Votes,” the fictional charity board members were looking for a way to avoid the time, expense, and inconvenience of monthly board meetings. “Why don’t we just put a few issues on an agenda,” one of them suggested, “email it out, circulate it online for comments and questions, and then vote by text message?” Although a shortcut like this may be a widespread practice, it’s not Read More