Charitable Deductions of $250 or More: Know the Rules

This is a cautionary tale for everyone out there who wants to take a $65-million charitable deduction. Or a $250 deduction. Or whatever. It’s also a useful lesson for the 501(c)(3) organizations who want to keep their donors - large and small - happy, and coming back year after year. It’s that time of year when donors will want to have the proper documentation in hand for their 2016 tax returns. When there’s a Read More

Let's Start the New Year with Good News: Progress on the Multistate Charitable Solicitation Registration

Perhaps the most unexpected aspect of the recent, bizarre, presidential campaign was that charity law - yes, charity law! - was thrust into the daily news cycle. Among the meaty issues - alleged or real - that legal analysts, anchors, and pundits tossed about is the often-overlooked requirement in about ¾ of U.S. jurisdictions that 501(c)(3) charities file state charitable solicitation registration documents.   While Read More

Year-End Donor Queries and the Overhead Myth

In December 2014, we posted “Uh Oh. It’s the End of the Year and We Have Money Left Over!” The point, of course, was that many nonprofits mistakenly believe they have to spend down every last penny by year’s end in order to maintain their status. We clarified that the term “nonprofit … usually means the type of organization that has successfully jumped through the proper state and federal hoops to receive the most Read More

Congress Digs In On Huge College Endowments

“A not-so-old joke has it that Harvard is best thought of as a hedge fund with a university attached.” The fund in question is its endowment - the largest in the United States - valued at over $35 billion. There have been growing concerns in recent years about the massive nest eggs of the nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning. These criticisms arise against a background of record-breaking Read More

Another Public University Foundation Under Fire

Sometimes called “slush funds” and “shadow corporations,” the foundations that support the nation’s public universities have been grabbing headlines recently: ones they would rather avoid. We highlighted some developments in “Foundations of Public Universities: Too Secretive?” “Public officials are raising questions about the spending practice of the nonprofit fundraising arms of public universities,” because “they Read More

Charity Naming Rights: Some New Examples

We’re intrigued about naming rights. In “Naming Rights: It’s a Philanthropic Jungle Out There,” we recounted the angst over funding major renovations to Lincoln Center’s venerable Avery Fisher Hall - decades after an early refurbishing was underwritten by Fisher, whose “dedication to music infused all areas of his life.” Eventually, after coming to terms with the original donor’s heirs, the renaming rights were Read More

Fighting City Hall: Tiny Charity Wins in Tampa Bay

“The biblical story of David and Goliath is probably the most well-known underdog story in the world. * * * For 3000 years, [it] has seeped into our cultural consciousness.” It’s human nature to root for the little guy who, confronted by a powerful bully, turns the table and - against all odds - pummels him. Last month, there was just such a victory in Tampa Bay, Florida. One of the least powerful charities in town Read More

Crowdfunding: What California Charities Should Know

It seems like a perfect marriage: the internet and charitable fundraising. A lightning-speed way to pitch alerts about causes - often in times of emergency - for which generous people in your own backyard as well as around the globe can help with the click of a mouse. It should be no surprise, then, that crowdfunding is exploding in popularity. “The nonprofit and charity sector has particularly benefited from the Read More

The MacArthur $100-Million Grant Contest

“Big problems require bold solutions.” That’s how Chicago’s MacArthur Foundation has announced its spectacular new “100&Change” competition. There will be a single $100-million grant for a “single proposal that will make measurable progress toward solving a significant problem.”     Details of the Competition This contest opened on June 2, 2016. Registration closes on September 2, 2016, and applications will be Read More