Next Time, Let’s Text in our Votes!

As the foundation board members wrapped up their meeting, one of them wondered out loud why they had to meet in person every month.  “We text all day for business. Why don’t we just put a few issues on an agenda, email it out, circulate online comments and questions, and then vote by text message?” Sounds reasonable, right? If nonprofits routinely conduct business by email and text -- like all other sectors of the Read More

A Rose by any Other Name . . .

“What's in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet;” – William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II Well, no. Not always.  Sometimes a nonprofit’s name leads to the unpleasant odor of protracted litigation. Just ask the folks over at WWP, Inc., doing business as Wounded Warrior Project about their long battle with an entirely distinct charity that had a confusingly Read More

Bylaws are Sometimes Like a Decades-Old Hairstyle

Big hair, long bangs, and enough hairspray to withstand a Category 4 hurricane: The style was new and fresh in the ‘80s.  Everyone was doing it. It worked. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But walk around today with a hairdo like that, and people will snigger and stare. If only it were that easy to realize that your organization’s bylaws are outdated. Bylaws aren’t Forever The bylaws – a corporation’s Read More

We Received Your Generous Donation. Nevertheless, . . .

David and Veronda Durden were faithful members of the flock at Nevertheless Community Church in Texas.  They contributed over $22,000 in 2007. The Church happily provided the Durdens with a letter to support the charitable deductions on their 2007 tax return. But the Church’s letter didn’t include all the language required by the federal tax statute and regulations. So the Durdens lost the entire deduction - over Read More

Is it Advisable to Have an Advisory Board?

The Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation has one.  Charity Navigator, an educational organization, has one, too. The Robin Hood Foundation, New York’s largest anti-poverty charity, has several, as does  Lifeboat Foundation, a prominent think-tank. What is it?  An advisory board: a group of individuals invited by an organization to provide credibility and guidance. It’s not exclusive to the nonprofit sector -- Read More

How a Huge Donation Can Turn Into Bad News

A generous contribution: How can that be anything but great news? If the money came from a well-known financier who turned out to be a world-class swindler, it can become very bad news long after the ink has dried on the donor's check. Innocent Victims All Around Among the latest charity victims struggling in a tug-of-war between infamous Ponzi scheme operators and their hapless, defrauded investors are the Tigers Read More

The Crackdown on Unpaid Internships: Do Nonprofits Have to Worry?

Summer’s coming, and what’s hot is more than just the weather. Last year, the subject of unpaid internships boiled over in news stories of beleaguered “interns” fighting media and entertainment giants like Conde Nast Publications and Fox Searchlight Pictures. The workers won in the trial courts and in the court of public opinion. The corporate heavy-hitters had to back away from relying on these unpaid – or very Read More

You Mean I Have to Pay Myself? Yup.

One of the beautiful things about forming a corporation - whether it's a normal for profit corporation or a social enterprise like a benefit or flexible purpose corporation -is that your business can elect to be taxed as something we've talked about before, an "S-Corp." Because of the favorable tax treatment, though, the IRS is always on the lookout for those businesses that take the benefit too far. Typically, an Read More

A Bit about Trademarks

Many clients ask me about whether or not they need to register their business name or newest product name as a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Well, as is true with so many things legal - it depends. In the United States, common law trademark rights arise on the first use of that mark within a product category/class or geographic market. That means that if you go ahead and Read More

To "C" or to "S"… Yes, you gotta choose.

So, as you might have figured out, one of those pesky requirements for forming a business in the United States is that you have to choose how your new enterprise is going to be viewed and taxed by the federal government. That means that if you are a "for-profit" entity (benefit and flexible purpose corporations are still "for-profit") then you are going to get to choose between something known as a "C" Corp or as a Read More