Launching a Family Foundation: Pros and Cons

Giving generously to favorite charitable causes is a long tradition in American culture. Each year, donors in the United States contribute hundreds of billions of dollars for worthy institutions and projects. Many wealthy individuals, couples, and families make substantial donations directly to established organizations that have received the most favorable – that is, “public charity” – status under the Internal Read More

With Dollars at Stake, a Nonprofit's Name is a Big Deal

  “Proctor: ...How may I live without  my name? I have given you my soul.  Leave me my name!” Arthur Miller, The Crucible, Act II, Scene 3   It’s a dog-eat-dog world in the chase for charitable donations.   A nonprofit that wants to survive in this competitive market needs a corporate name that is widely recognized and associated in the public’s mind with that organization alone. Sometimes, though, there’s Read More

Beyond the Basics of Fundraising: Commercial Fundraisers

Many charities conduct their own fundraising campaigns; some have in-house development directors and staff. As we mentioned in “Taking Fundraising Outside the Organization,” other organizations, though, need help from time to time with solicitation efforts, and turn to “fundraising counsel,” “commercial coventurers”, or “commercial fundraisers.” These terms are defined in the primary statutory scheme for regulation Read More

The Conflict of Interest Policy: Why is it Needed?

“A policy governing conflicts of interest is perhaps the most important policy a nonprofit board can adopt….”   That’s advice from the  National Council of Nonprofits. It mirrors the position of the Internal Revenue Service that this is a big deal. New organizations applying for tax exemption must indicate, on the Form 1023, if they’ve adopted a conflict of interest policy.   Many of these startups use the Read More

California Charity Auctions

Raffles. Bingo. Poker Nights. Auctions. These are fundraising favorites; donors enjoy them, and charities love the results. There are tough rules and restrictions under California law for special events in the first three of these four categories. Charity auctions are a different story, though. It’s relatively smooth-sailing for the sponsoring organization. What’s the reason?  In a single word: Read More

Taking Fundraising Outside the Organization

Fundraising is central to the success of public charities. It takes an enormous amount of time, effort, and resources to raise the money needed to accomplish an organization’s mission. And it’s certainly quite a bundle that’s raised. For example, in 2013, total charitable giving in the United States was over $335 billion. That’s $335 billion or so that donors expect to go to legitimate organizations for charitable Read More

Unpaid Intern Rules Turned Upside Down – Again

There’s an important update to the rules about unpaid internships that we discussed last year in “The Crackdown on Unpaid Internships: Do Nonprofits Have to Worry?” Our answer to this question was “yes.”  For the last few years, internships have been a hot topic in the media. In 2013, a high-profile lawsuit by unpaid interns was brought against Fox Searchlight Pictures (the Black Swan case), alleging that the Read More

"The Girl Scouts and the Return of the Completed Donation"

It sounds like it could be the title of a 1960’s-era teen mystery novel, and it’s no wonder the story went viral. It had everything: schoolgirls excited about summer camp, an angel donor who turned into a Scrooge, Caitlyn Jenner, thin mint cookies, and a happy-ending, emergency crowdfunding campaign that quickly raised 3 times the amount of a lost contribution. You’ve probably heard about it, too. The Girls Scouts of Read More

Whistleblower Policy for Nonprofits

It’s not uncommon these days to read news reports about corporate whistleblowers. Since 2002, these brave people who report wrongdoing have had substantial protection under the federal Sarbanes-Oxley Act. That landmark legislation emerged in the aftermath of high-profile corporate corruption cases in the early 2000s; most notably, Enron. Whistleblowers were key to taking down these economic giants who were guilty of Read More

Who Would Run Away From a Big Charitable Gift? You Should . . . Sometimes.

In “What Happens When A Huge Donation Begins to Smell?” we told you about “tainted donors.” Two of the most infamous scoundrels, Bernie Madoff and Allen Stanford, made huge gifts to charities before their misdeeds were discovered. The recipients had to make difficult decisions about whether to keep or divest themselves of the ill-gotten money. But what if the scary part of a prospective charitable contribution is not Read More