Charity Lawyer Blog
At the beginning of each fiscal year, the IRS releases guidance on its compliance priorities for tax-exempt and government entities (TE/GE) and explains how those priorities align with the agency’s strategic goals. This year, the IRS has streamlined its usual annual long letter approach into a short two-page letter and promised to provide quarterly updates on its compliance priorities; an effort to more accurately reflect the fluid nature of IRS operations and shifting compliance priorities throughout the year.
State charitable tax credits are a win for everyone; qualified charities receive the support they need at no extra expense to the taxpayer beyond what they would already owe to the state in taxes. Note that while credits are non-refundable (i.e. if you don’t end up owing enough in taxes to fully benefit from the credits, you will not get a refund from the state), unused credits can be carried forward for 5 years.
Thoroughly research a charity before giving. What are they doing to serve the community, and do they actually do what they say they will do? How much of their costs go to overhead and administration versus providing actual services to the community they serve? The following organizations provide reputable information on how charities do business and spend their donations.
As the pandemic continues to dominate the daily dialogue, giving trends have kept apace with the rise in awareness surrounding public health issues. Likewise, racial justice and politics have taken their share of the stage and giving to both causes has increased from previous years. But can we expect giving to be reduced in other sectors as a result? Not necessarily, say survey respondents. Still, it’s helpful to examine your nonprofit’s mission vis-a-vis pandemic relief and other salient issues; strive to ensure that your messaging effectively ties in your mission to those issues that are top of mind for donors.
While many nonprofits may be enjoying the surge in volunteerism, relying on volunteers can come with its share of risks. Still, abiding by a few key practices can ensure that both the nonprofit organization and its volunteers get the most out of the experience.
A virtual bench trial that began on October 19 may soon further define the contours of control issues surrounding donor-advised funds. The case, Fairbairn et al. v. Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund, centers on a feud between donors Emily and Malcolm Fairbairn and Fidelity Investment’s Charitable Branch.
Employees (and employers) may have a very different understanding of what working from home entails. That’s why it’s essential to set clear expectations concerning the job and telecommuting practices. A telecommuting policy can help to ensure that everyone is on the same page. It might include topics such as; hours of availability and documentation, expected response times, dress, behavior, and work setting requirements; and data privacy and security expectations.
A well drafted contract accurately represents what both parties expect from the agreement. Your nonprofit organization could end up in court or out of pocket large sums of money if you don’t get it right. It is, therefore, important to have the contract represent all parties’ expectations.
The IRS released a statement admitting that they sent certain tax-exempt organizations premature auto-revocation notices in error.
Blackbaud is familiar to many nonprofits and universities as one of the world’s leading cloud software companies for fundraising, relationship, and financial management. Now they are in the limelight after a highly publicized ransomware attack in which perpetrators obtained a copy of a subset of data from its Raiser’s Edge and NetCommunity products that track clients’ donors and fundraising activities. Although Blackbaud maintains that no personal information (such as credit card numbers, banking information, or social security numbers) was compromised in the attack, Blackbaud users impacted by the breach have since filed a class-action lawsuit for negligence, breach of contract, and other allegations.
The tainted donor dilemma is nothing new; nonprofits have long wrestled with the ethical and reputational implications of receiving questionable characters’ gifts. But with the explosion of real-time mass communication and social media, stories of wrongdoing are quickly amplified and can quickly sink a person–and everything and everyone with whom they are associated.
To reap the tax-advantaged and protective benefits of conducting business through multiple entities, organizations must take care to respect the formalities of the arrangement. This includes remaining independent and dealing with each other at arm’s length, having separate board meetings, implementing conflict of interest policies, documenting transactions between the entities, and ensuring fair market value payment for any benefits received by affiliates.
We all know that 2020 has been a brutal year for nonprofits. Unfortunately, we are starting to see more nonprofits struggle with sustainability. We have helped many organizations wind-down their operations over the years, and in most cases, there have been one or more core programs that could be salvaged. In many cases, a joint partner allowed the charity to continue its most viable programs in one form or another.
If your annual gala, donor breakfast, or poker night benefit is responsible for more than 30% of your annual operating costs, it may be time to overhaul your organization’s fundraising plan. COVID-19 has taught us many lessons, one of which is that the unexpected can and does happen. Limitations on in-person gatherings have shuttered many key fundraising events heavily relied on by nonprofits. In the aftermath, some are now struggling to keep their doors open.