Category Archives: Governance

Diversions of Nonprofit Assets

The Washington Post has identified over 1,000 nonprofit organizations that have reported a “significant diversion” of assets. Its important to note that there are over 1,616,000 tax-exempt nonprofits in the U.S. today; thus, these filings represent less than 1% of tax-exempt nonprofits. It’s also interesting to note that a quick review of Arizona’s list includes only 21 organizations – most of which reported the diversions in a clear, transparent, and confidence inspiring manner.Continue Reading

Co-Working Spaces – Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Models

“Co-working” has exploded in the last five years. Essentially, co-working spaces are places where workers – typically freelancers, self-employed individuals and start-up ventures – can go to work while being surrounded by like-minded, creative entrepreneurs without having to rent their own offices. Many co-working spaces have a mission to create social change and spur community rejuvenation, making them of great interest to the social impact sector.Continue Reading

Nonprofit Corporations: Eight Items to Do By Year End

Hold Annual Meeting. Most corporate bylaws require that the directors meet at least annually. Many state nonprofit corporation statutes also require an annual meeting. The annual meeting is typically the meeting where the board (or voting members) fill vacancies on the board, appoint officers, approve budgets, circulate and sign conflict of interest disclosures, and ratify actions taken during the year.Continue Reading

Abolishing Nonprofit Voting Members – Easier Said than Done

Voting memberships are most useful when an organization wishes to be democratically controlled by its constituents. By way of example, voting membership structures are commonly used by member driven organizations such as social clubs, churches, chambers of commerce and trade associations. In such cases, the organization exists to serve its members and its makes senseContinue Reading

How to Use Nonprofit Advisory Boards

An advisory board is a group of talented, experienced, wealthy, or otherwise influential individuals who are invited to provide ongoing advice and support to a nonprofit’s Board of Directors. Members of an advisory board are not typically current members of the Board of Directors, but are volunteers with a passion for the nonprofit who canContinue Reading

IRS Study Indicates Good Nonprofit Governance Leads to Better Tax Compliance

The IRS has released preliminary results from their study of tax-exempt organizations’ governance practices. As expected, the preliminary findings suggest that organizations with good governance policies are more likely to comply with tax laws. On April 19, Lois Lerner, the Director of the IRS’ Tax-Exempt and Government Entities Division, spoke on this issue at aContinue Reading

Nonprofit Law Jargon Buster: What is a Consent Agenda

A consent agenda is the practice of bundling routine matters into one board vote to free up board meeting time to focus on the substantive issues facing the organization. Because every board action must be agreed upon and documented in the board meeting minutes, time is frequently wasted discussing and approving actions such as theContinue Reading

IRS 2012 Work Plan – What’s New for Nonprofits

Each year, the IRS publishes a report detailing what its focus will be regarding nonprofit organizations and compliance during the year to come. The following are some of the highlights from the 2012 Exempt Organizations Work Plan.Continue Reading

Mechanics of a Nonprofit Merger

Merger proposals are being prompted by reduction of funding sources, the tight economy, the need for succession planning and a desire to consolidate expenses and increase capacity. Also, many funders prefer to deal with fewer providers of the same programs or services and encourage mergers and other forms of collaboration to reduce overhead and increase capacity. There are special challenges for nonprofits considering a merger. Factors, such as increased capacity and cost savings, drive the deal. Because these benefits can be more difficult to quantify, a proposed merger can feel threatening to a nonprofit board who feels they may lose power and influence. Continue Reading

Yes Virginia, Nonprofit Directors Really Can be Held Liable for An Insolvent Nonprofit’s Debts

When serving as a director or an officer of a nonprofit organization, a director’s duties shall be discharged: (i) in good faith; (ii) with the care an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would exercise under similar circumstances; and (iii) in a manner the director reasonably believes to be in the best interests of the corporation. These duties are owed not only to the corporation, but also to its creditors. In discharging duties, a director is entitled to rely on information, opinions, reports or statements, including financial statements and other financial data, if prepared or presented by one or more officers or employees of the corporation whom the director reasonably believes are reliable and competent in the matters presented as well as certain experts and committees. However, a director is not acting in good faith if the director has knowledge concerning the matter in question that makes otherwise permissible reliance on others unwarranted.Continue Reading

Control and Influence – Balancing Nonprofit Governance Rights Among Stakeholders

We have blogged about the phenomenon of nonprofit hostile takeovers and the fact that no one owns a nonprofit. However, there is always control. Although nonprofits generally lack shares that can be owned and transferred, there are many ways to ensure a level of control or influence over a nonprofit entity. Those seeking to control a nonprofit or balance governance rights among different stakeholders need to understand the available options. Continue Reading

Nonprofit Law Jargon Buster: What is an Endowment?

Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th ed., defines an endowment as: A gift of money or property to an institution (such as a university) for a specific purpose, esp. one in which the principal is kept intact and only the interest income from that principal is used. This is the popular definition familiar to most nonprofit executives.Continue Reading