Name Changes – How to Do it Right

Exempt organizations that wish to change their name often secure a trade name or “do business” under a fictitious name. Presumably they opt to use a fictitious name rather than formally change their name because they believe a legal name change is too much trouble or they don’t know how to accomplish it. . . . A better approach is to change the organization’s legal name with both state and federal authorities to present a unified and cohesive brand to donors and supporters. Continue Reading

IRS Guidance Breathes New Life Into Mission-Related Investing

Foundations are required to expend approximately 5% of their assets for charitable purposes each year. The other 95% is invested to generate distributable income for future years. Historically, foundations have struggled with the idea of making riskier investments that further their charitable purposes, but do not qualify as a PRI because a significant purpose of the investment is the production of income or the appreciation of property. Continue Reading

Benefiting Individuals

Donors wishing to help the victims of a tragedy, a serious illness, or other major hardship are often surprised to learn that gifts earmarked for specific individuals are not tax deductible as charitable contributions. This rule catches many donors off guard as it is not intuitive that gifts made to individuals who are clearly in need would not be considered charitable. Continue Reading

Nonprofits and Affiliated Entities

Increasingly, nonprofits are creating affiliate organizations such as entities to hold real property, taxable subsidiaries that run unrelated businesses, lobbying organizations, foundations, chapters, and even management organizations. There are myriad reasons to create affiliates but there are a number of common scenarios that we will touch in this post. Continue Reading

Nonprofit Law Jargon Buster – What is a Group Exemption?

The group exemption permits a central or parent organization to certify that each subordinate qualifies for exemption and to include it under its umbrella for tax-exemption purposes. The process is designed to reduce paperwork for both taxpayers and the IRS where affiliated entities are similar in their purpose, structure and operations. Continue Reading

The Arizona Entity Restructuring Act

Prior to passage of AREA, an entity seeking to change its structure likely had to undergo a multi-step transaction to accomplish its goal. AREA permits direct conversions and makes clear that it applies to all entity types (corporations, nonprofits, benefit corporations, LLCs, partnerships, etc.). Continue Reading

Top Five Nonprofit Legal Risks

Too often, we see nonprofits signing contracts that are presented to them by vendors without appropriate legal review. Many vendors use form contracts that are extremely one sided in the vendor’s favor on the theory that many clients will sign whatever is given to them without scrutinizing the terms. Continue Reading

Best of CharityLawyer 2014

At the end of each year we like to look back at our most popular posts to evaluate what our readers are finding most interesting and useful on the blog. What follows is a list of CharityLawyer’s Top 10 posts for 2014 measured by page views Continue Reading

Here Comes the Arizona Benefit Corporation

Going into effect January 1, 2015, the Arizona benefit corporation statute will enable entrepreneurs to form a corporation unlike anything Arizona has seen before. Benefit corporations enable social entrepreneurs to create a corporate structure requiring the corporation to create a general public benefit. As with anything new, its details are untested and some confusion surrounds it. Below we dig into the statute and detail what you will and will not be able to do in 2015. Continue Reading

Student Discipline Policies and the Dept of Ed’s Office for Civil Rights

The Guidance is clear – charter schools must have nondiscriminatory student discipline policies implemented in a nondiscriminatory manner. The Guidance draws a distinction familiar in the area of employment law: disparate treatment and disparate impact. Under Title IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act as well as under Arizona law, charter schools must create and enforce a nondiscriminatory student discipline policy. Continue Reading

What is an Arizona Charter School?

Charter schools are, without argument, public schools. Think of it this way: K-12 education is either “public” or “private”. Private schools may charge tuition, are exempt from No Child Left Behind requirements and other Federal laws including FERPA (so long as they receive no federal funding), are not eligible to receive per-pupil funding, and may establish entrance requirements so long as they do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin. Continue Reading

Choice of Domicile for Nonprofit Corporations

Over the years we have worked with organizations in many different states and have had the chance to form some opinions about choice of domicile for nonprofits. Some of the factors that have influenced our thoughts on this matter include states requiring mandatory audits, multiple agencies overseeing nonprofits, unclear statutes governing nonprofit corporations, and aggressive regulation. Continue Reading

DIY Nonprofit Law – Top Five Mistakes

The state form does not include the tax provisions that the IRS requires tax-exempt organizations to have. Would be founders that file using the state’s form Articles of Incorporation without including an attachment with the appropriate tax provisions will end up with a taxable nonprofit – a result almost no one intends. Continue Reading