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What Your Non-Profit Needs to Know About Force Majeure

Force majeure has become the word du jour; French for superior force, it refers to a principle of contract law in which parties to a contract can limit their liability and performance obligations. In the simplest terms, it allows parties to suspend or discontinue the performance of contractual obligations in cases of emergent circumstances beyond the parties’ control. It may also operate to limit contractual liability. But its practical application is nuanced. Here’s what you need to know:

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Best Practices for Taking Board Meeting Minutes

Meeting minutes need to record the proceedings in a way that is simple, unambiguous, and accurately reflects the wishes and actions of the Board. A simple rule of thumb is that minutes should contain enough detail to reflect the steps that the Board took and any critical discussions that took place. Well drafted minutes are essential evidence that the directors fulfilled their fiduciary duties. 

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Fiscal Sponsorship
Starting a nonprofit

The Pros and Cons of Fiscal Sponsorship

Fiscal sponsorship is when a nonprofit organization accepts tax-deductible donations on behalf of another organization that does not have 501(c)(3) status.  Solicitations are made in the name of the fiscal sponsor and therefore permit the sponsored project to rely on the sponsor’s IRS determination letter, solicitation registrations, etc.

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How to Claim Parking Tax Refunds

On January 21, 2020, the IRS issued guidance detailing how nonprofits can apply for refunds of the repealed “parking tax.” Recall that in December 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act imposed an unpopular and widely criticized 21% tax on employee transportation benefit expenses incurred by nonprofits. The transportation tax, or “parking tax” as it came to be known, was retroactively repealed in December of 2019. The retroactive nature of the repeal creates an opportunity for nonprofits that paid the tax to seek refunds. 

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What’s New for Nonprofits in 2020

At the close of 2019, Congress passed legislation that has a significant impact on nonprofits. On December 20, 2019, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, also known as H.R. 1865, became law. This act includes two provisions that significantly impact nonprofits:

The simplification of the excise tax on net investment income; and
The retroactive repeal of the unrelated business income tax on qualified transportation fringe benefits.

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Board Quorums, Non-Profit Strategy, and Technological Innovation

Many non-profit’s use the 51% benchmark for a quorum as a concession that directors will not be able to attend all meetings, but having a majority of board members in attendance for official business ensures a representative cross-section of participation which will not simply reflect the will of a very small clique of directors.  However, organizations that value strong hands-on participation by board members may set a higher quorum requirement to encourage meeting attendance and broader participation. 

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Setting up Nonprofit Board Committees for Maximum Effect

The need for committees and which types will vary based on your organization’s age, size, and activities.  Newer organizations may be able to get by with a small working board and few or no committees, while large and established nonprofits would be hamstrung without the robust use of committees. 

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Can Your Nonprofit Board Vote by Email?

Technology now offers businesses and boards many advantages, including the ability to meet via teleconference, video conference, or even conduct discussion and voting via electronic communications, such as email.  But while email is commonplace among many organizations for its ease of use, especially for busy and geographically diverse volunteers sitting on nonprofit boards, there are several reasons to think twice before using email for your next important nonprofit board vote. 

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