Nonprofit Law: A Legal Reading List

For your reference, here’s a roundup of recent legal commentary and analysis to do with the various issues and concerns particular to nonprofit organizations:

On Misconduct…

Can an Effective Whistleblower Policy Prevent Misconduct? (Ober|Kaler) 

“It is not enough to have whistleblower policies on paper – executives of academic institutions, nonprofits and for profit organizations bear equal responsibility for fostering a culture of compliance. This means that a process for actually ‘following up’ on investigative leads is an important piece of the whistleblower policy. Truly effective whistleblower and investigative policies can reduce the risk of harm to individual victims and prevent monetary damages and reputational harm.” Read more»

Detecting and Preventing Fraud and Embezzlement in Your Nonprofit Organization (Venable LLP)

“Specific fraud audits are available and are encouraged when there is any suspicion of fraud. When fraud audits are conducted, the auditors give greater scrutiny to certain items and another auditor within the firm will often take a second look at the audit to decrease the chance that anything was missed.” Read more»

Cause-Related Marketing in the Crosshairs: What the New York Attorney General’s Breast Cancer Investigation Means for Nonprofits and Their Corporate Supporters (Venable LLP)

“In its own recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the New York Attorney General’s Office is examining charities and commercial partners that are involved in a cause-related marketing campaign representing that a portion of the sales of a product or service will support breast cancer research or screening… This action also demonstrates that organizations, both charities and marketers, engaging in increasingly popular cause-related marketing campaigns should pay close attention to state regulatory requirements for these activities.” Read more»

On Lobbying and Political Activity…

Political Activities By Non-Profit Educational Institutions (Fisher & Phillips LLP)

“Each political cycle, schools face questions regarding their obligations (and limitations) when it comes to involvement by the school in various political activities. For example, can your school permit a student club to host one party’s candidate on campus? Must you open the opportunity to other candidates? It is extremely important that you understand the IRS guidelines relating to a non-profit’s political limitations so that you do not place the school’s tax-exempt status in jeopardy.” Read more»

The Nuts and Bolts of Lobbying for 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(6) Exempt Organizations (Venable LLP)

“501(c)(3) Basic Rule—Political Activity Prohibited

Stark line drawn between lobbying activities and political campaign activities—501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from engaging in political campaign activities.

Political campaign activity is generally giving of support for the election or defeat of a candidate for office. In practice, IRS uses a very broad definition of ‘candidate.’”

Read more»

On the District of Columbia Nonprofit Corporation Act…

The New D.C. Nonprofit Corporation Act Takes Effect January 1, 2012: Everything You Need To Know To Comply (Venable LLP)

“… numerous default rules have changed under the 2010 Act and new, more detailed provisions governing matters like director standards of conduct and liability, indemnification, member voting rights and ballot voting procedures, and numerous other topics require D.C. nonprofit corporations to familiarize themselves with the new law, and determine whether changes to their governing documents or practices will be necessary to comply.” Read more»

[see also Venable’s presentation on this same subject

D.C. Nonprofit Corporation Law Changes for 2012 (Morgan Lewis)

“’Old Act’ corporations (those formed prior to 1962) that do not want to be subject to the Act must file a notice on or before December 31, 2013. Congressionally chartered corporations (except those required to be incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia) are treated as foreign corporations under the Act and must maintain a registered agent, obtain a certificate of authority to do business, and file two-year reports with the DCRA.” Read more»


See also:

Social Media and the Law for Nonprofits (Gammon & Grange, P.C.) 

Considering Operations Overseas? – What Every Nonprofit Should Know Before Crossing US Borders (Venable LLP) 

Pitfalls for Nonprofits that Receive Federal Funds: Lessons Learned from ACORN (Venable LLP) 


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