If your not-for-profit solicits funds online — or uses other fundraising methods that cross state boundaries — it may need to register in multiple jurisdictions. We’ve answered some commonly asked questions.
My charity receives occasional contributions from out-of-state donors. Do I need to register with those states? Yes, but only if you’re actually asking for donations in those states. The critical activity is soliciting, not accepting, funds. Remember, email and text blasts and social media appeals are likely to be considered multistate solicitations.
Individuals who report illegal or unethical practices may risk their careers, or take other kinds of risks, when they do. Whistleblower policies help protect them. No federal law specifically requires not-for-profits to have such policies in place, but several state laws do. And IRS Form 990 asks nonprofits to state whether they have adopted a whistleblower policy.
In recent years, the IRS has increased its scrutiny — including actual audits — of not-for-profits. Do you know what to do if your organization receives an audit letter?
What is an audit?
An audit begins with the initial contact from the IRS and continues until a closing letter is issued. Before closing an audit, an officer of your nonprofit, your CPA and the IRS agent will discuss the agent’s conclusions at a closing conference. Both the conference and letter will explain your appeal rights.
Say that your not-for-profit’s investment portfolio has recently grown in size and complexity due to a new endowment. Yet your staff doesn’t have the time or expertise to wisely invest and monitor these funds. This is probably the time to hire an investment advisor — but how do you find the best person to make prudent investments while meeting your investment goals?
Where to start
Finding an advisor starts with identifying a pool of qualified candidates with proven track records. Experience working with nonprofit endowments is key.
Because restricted gifts have stringent rules attached, they can be difficult for not-for-profits to manage and account for. How, then, do you encourage donors to make unrestricted gifts that your organization can use as it deems necessary? Here are four suggestions:
An informal, ad hoc approach to fundraising can waste time, resources and opportunities. To ensure that doesn’t happen, your not-for-profit needs to form a committee to create and execute a strategic fundraising plan.
Finding and retaining good board members can be challenging for not-for-profits. So it’s important not to make the job harder and more time-consuming than necessary. This starts with efficient board meetings.
The “P” word
The key to effective board meetings can be summarized in one word: planning. Once the meeting date is set, your executive director and your board chair should prepare an agenda. For each item, the agenda should provide a timetable and assign responsibility to specific board members. Include at least one board vote to reinforce a sense of purpose, but be careful not to cram too much into your agenda.