Nonprofits & Risk Management: Attitude Adjustment Advice

In  What’s Next After the Tax Exemption Letter? we noted that there’s lots of information available about how to start a nonprofit and get the all-important “determination letter” from the IRS awarding federal tax exemption. But what happens then? There is much less advice and direction about how to get from Point A, the formation stage, to Point B, the time when the group can and should start its program Read More

New Chapter in U. of Louisville Foundation Saga

Last year, we wrote about the deep - self-inflicted - troubles plaguing the University of Louisville (Kentucky) Foundation.  At that time, in July 2017, The Nonprofit Quarterly wrote: “The last shoe may have dropped.” The University of Kentucky had commissioned a costly independent forensic audit covering the years 2014-2016 as well as certain earlier events. The 269-page audit report was released to the board Read More

Nonprofit Insurance Needs: Common Risks

The board of directors of a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization plays a critical role in guiding it along the path to achieving its mission. Good governance, including sound fiscal planning and oversight, is a key to success, as is prudent risk management - with adequate insurance coverage custom tailored to the organization’s circumstances. For many boards, the first mistake is neglecting the matter entirely. The Read More

Secrets and Lies at Silicon Valley Community Foundation

“A scandal at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) has roiled the world of philanthropy," wrote philanthropy expert and consultant Alan Cantor on May 7, 2018. Just two weeks earlier, a drama unfolded in the Northern California enclave of tech billionaires; “[a] blockbuster story with dramatic elements worthy of an HBO mini-series…. There were “[a]n imperious and (until now) impervious CEO, secretive Read More

Governance: Invitation for Sector-Wide Discussion

The Nonprofit Quarterly, led by editor Ruth McCambridge, regularly takes the lead in sparking innovative thought and reflection in the nonprofit sector. On April 16, 201, NPQ launched the newest topic for sector-wide discussion and consideration: Nonprofit Boards and Their Relevance in Governance: An Invitation to Engage.  "One of the most rapidly advancing topics in the sector right now centers on the shape and Read More

Nonprofits: Adopt a Board Confidentiality Policy

There are certain types of formal written corporate policies that nonprofit organizations are well-advised to adopt and follow rigorously. Examples include a Conflict of Interest Policy and a Whistleblower Policy - two of the items that IRS revenue agents will ask to see during an audit. There are other categories that are useful and recommended if they apply in the particular circumstances; for instance, an Read More

When Mission and Personal Philosophy Diverge

An intriguing story bubbled up in the third week of January 2018 to grab some space in the New York Times and other important news outlets. “Trouble [had] been brewing for over a year at New York’s venerable American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and [finally erupted] in a bizarre dilemma that perhaps could only arise in today’s contentious political atmosphere.” AMNH “is one of the world’s preeminent scientific Read More

Best Practices & Nonprofits

When experts in a field get together, they like to toss around the phrase “best practices.” A best practice is a method or technique that has been generally accepted as superior to any alternatives because it produces results that are superior to those achieved by other means or because it has become a standard way of doing things, e.g., a standard way of complying with legal or ethical requirements. “Best Read More

Donor Privacy Policy: Every Nonprofit Should Have One

Which documents should your organization have in that expensive, "gold-embossed," three-ring binder you ordered back in the day when you first got started? There are dividers for your articles of incorporation, your bylaws, and the minutes of the first meeting. Of course, you should keep it up to date with the minutes of each board meeting, along with formal resolutions adopted, and any amendments to the bylaws. What Read More

What Should a Nonprofit Know About a Forensic Audit?

In Conflicts of Interest Can Lead to Big Problems, we discussed the significant troubles that have plagued the University of Louisville Foundation for several years. “It’s not uncommon,” we explained, “for a major nonprofit institution like a university health care center to form a foundation to help raise funds and support the important work of the main organization. Many of these relationships proceed for decades Read More