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Law of Tax Exempt Organizations

Avoiding Nonprofit Scandal: Regulations & Ethical Standards to Know

Stephanie Cory

If you’ve ever googled “nonprofit and scandal” or “charity and scandal,” you were probably shocked at the number of results. There are some bad apples out there. Unfortunately, scandals and wrongdoing receive the bulk of media attention, and this can tarnish the sector. As the leader of a nonprofit organization, you can’t fix the sector, but you can make sure your organization is accountable and ethical. Here's how.

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Should lawyers who represent clients averse to the organization's mission be on the board?

Question: The primary mission of our nonprofit membership organization is to end domestic violence. We provide direct services to victims, but not legal representation. Several of our directors are family lawyers who occasionally represent offenders in domestic violence protection order cases and resulting criminal cases. Some of our members feel this is contrary to, and therefore a violation of, our mission. Some also feel it is a violation of the canons of ethics for the attorneys to represent offenders if they are committed to our mission. Is there any merit in either argument, and, if so, do we need to exclude family and criminal lawyers from our Board?

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What Do We Mean When We Say “Nonprofit”?

We often start our lectures by quizzing the participants on their understanding of “nonprofits.” By show of hands, how many think the following organizations are nonprofits? The Bill Gates Foundation; your church, synagogue, or mosque; the local United Way; the local community foundation; a major local university such as Harvard; a local social service organization;…

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IRS Explains How to Reinstate Automatically Revoked Exempt Status

The IRS has issued a new Revenue Procedure (2014-11) outlining four ways for tax-exempt organizations that have lost their exempt status for failing to file required tax returns for three consecutive years to regain their exempt status, with possible retroactive reinstatement. The procedures differ based on the size of the organization, the speed after revocation…

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