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

Nonprofit Boards: How Effective Are They?

How well a nonprofit board performs is a critical factor in the ultimate success of the organization. Do nonprofit directors believe they are doing well enough? How do the experts evaluate the overall quality and performance? An important project from not too long ago is the “2015 Survey on Board of Directors of Nonprofit Organizations” by the Stanford School of Business. The findings suggest there is considerable Read More

Nonprofits in Bankruptcy Must Plan Carefully

“Although it’s a step rarely discussed in the philanthropic community,” we explained in “Yes, Nonprofits Sometimes Do File Bankruptcy,” “filing for federal bankruptcy relief is not uncommon and is a way to resolve the status of a nonprofit in serious financial difficulties.” Sometimes - for individuals, for businesses, for charities - “this drastic remedy is necessary.” Non-profits can benefit from the bankruptcy Read More

Charity Board Term Limits: What’s the Best Practice?

“Board governance is often taken for granted in the early stages of creating a nonprofit organization.” There is excitement about “the first steps in achieving the mission of the fledgling NPO” or resolving pressing funding issues. The recruitment of board members is often a top priority in the organizational phase. Few groups, though, give any thought at that point about a mechanism to cut loose these enthusiastic Read More

Charity Regulators: Focus on Enforcement of Corporate Policies

“When government regulators meet,” we wrote in a recent post, “they make lists of the most pressing topics that keep them up at night.” One such list is a March 2017 article in The Nonprofit Times. There, the authors discussed five hot-topic areas that give regulators apoplectic fits these days: Governance & Compliance: Policy vs. Practice Scrutiny of Fundraising and Overhead Costs Solicitation and Use of Read More

San Francisco Charity Under Fire

She was everywhere on San Francisco’s social scene: the 78-year-old fashion diva with her enormous “statement” eyeglasses. Joy Venturini Bianchi was the face of nonprofit Helpers Community, Inc. Over 60 years ago, the respected organization was founded to assist people with developmental disabilities. For many years, it operated residential facilities for them in the city’s Richmond District. More recently, though, Read More

Social Media Policy: Now, More Important Than Ever

Part of the New Year’s recommended checkup for each nonprofit is a review of existing governance policies and a plan to adopt ones that are missing. A written social media policy is often omitted from suggested governance document lists, because the explosion and huge impact of social media is so new. In an earlier post, we noted that “[s]ocial media has been described as a ‘Wild West’ that nonprofits must ‘tame.’” Read More

Board Meetings and Minutes and More

As we edge up past the 200-blog-post milestone, we’re proud of the variety of topics covered. Some areas of interest to nonprofits have been covered a bit more extensively than others. For example, just last summer, we posted 8 times on the all-important politics ban in section 501(c)(3). After November 8th, though, the landscape changed dramatically; hence, our update in December 2016: “Maybe ‘Never Mind’ About The Read More

It's a New Year – Take a Look at Your Governance Policies

Starting fresh each January 1st, most of us adopt the same New Year’s resolutions that we had abandoned - unfulfilled - the year before. As we've posted previously, the “clean slate” concept so appealing to individuals is a serious and critical aspect of prudent organizational management. At least once a year, each nonprofit - large or small - should conduct a formal evaluation and review of its practices, systems, Read More

Nonprofit Hospitals at a Crossroads

Nonprofit hospitals straddle two worlds: philanthropy and health care. They are key players in both sectors, and are in the crosshairs of government regulators and watchdog groups. We have reported on the growing number of challenges by local governments around the U.S. to the long-standing and valuable property tax exemptions of nonprofits including hospitals. A recent decision from the New Jersey Tax Court “sent Read More