Charity Issues of Concern to CA Attorney General

Around the nation, state attorneys general have the key oversight responsibility for charitable organizations and property held in charitable trust in their jurisdictions. Historically, the most high-profile ones are from the biggest states. California’s Javier Becerra and New York’s Eric Schneiderman are carrying on this tradition of aggressive investigation and enforcement. This, of course, is in addition to Read More

Charitable Deduction Substantiation: Redux

“Redux”: Something “brought back.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) Back in February 2017, we posted “...a cautionary tale for everyone out there who wants to take a $65-million charitable deduction. Or a $250 deduction. Or whatever.” Follow the rules, we advised. “‘It is not exactly rocket science.’” There are hoops to jump through - not particularly complex or onerous ones - to substantiate a claimed deduction. Read More

Charities in the Courtroom15: NY Goes After “Bottomfeeders”

The New York State Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, has emerged as a key leader of state officials committed to going after fraud and abuse in charities. Doing so has been a big favor to New York’s nonprofits, as it draws a high-profile distinction for the public between legitimate and illegitimate activity in the sector.... He has named his office’s attempt to pursue scam artists that make use of 'shell' Read More

Leaving Words of Wisdom to the Next Generation

You come into the world a blank slate, and as you grow, you gain wisdom. You've planned your estate to leave physical assets to beneficiaries, so now think about leaving them something that’s just as important but less tangible: the hard-won wisdom you’ve accumulated over your life. Let your family and friends learn from your mistakes, and profit from your successes. Living and Other Trusts You probably know that a Read More

A New Way to Diversify Nonprofit Boards

A frequent criticism of the nonprofit world is that boards of directors are primarily populated with people far removed in wealth, background, circumstances, and experience from the people these organizations are formed to serve. There’s talk, of course, that this should change, but discussions about increasing board diversity often lead to little action. Now the City Attorney of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Wade Hinton, Read More

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

Not Just Death and Taxes: Five Essential Legal Documents You Need BEFORE You Become Incapacitated

Comprehensive estate planning is more than your legacy after death, avoiding probate, and saving on taxes. Good estate planning includes a plan in place to manage your affairs if you become incapacitated during your life and can no longer make decisions for yourself. What happens without an incapacity plan? Without a comprehensive incapacity plan in place, your family will have to go to court to get a judge to 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

Your Website: Copyright Perils and Protections

Board and staff of most nonprofits are aware that there’s a hefty set of federal tax laws that apply to their operations. Their main goal is to make sure that the coveted tax exemption is safe and secure. Of course, there are other categories of rules and regulations that apply across the board - to profit-making businesses as well as to nonprofits. A good example is labor and employment law:  wage and hour rules, Read More