This past year has been a year of change for nonprofits. Concepts like social enterprise and crowdfunding have worked their way into the mainstream and are challenging longtime ideas about how charitable mission should be accomplished. This builds on other changes in recent years on nonprofit-related fundamentals like IRS oversight, governance/accountability and charitable giving. And now as we enter the home-stretch of this election season, one thing is certain: there will be even more change.
Since the last presidential election cycle, for example, the 2010 Citizens United decision has dramatically increased the amount of money put into the election process in support of (or in opposition to) candidates for office. There have been calls for the IRS to provide more clarity about permissible levels of political activity for non-501(c)(3)s, and also IRS interest around potentially taxing contributions to such entities as gifts. Political activity has always been a dangerous area for nonprofits to navigate, but recent shifts have made it all the more so as nonprofit staff and advisors try to sort through what has changed and how it does (or does not) affect them and their organizations.
All of this has brought about excitement and opportunity, but also uncertainty and questions. With this in mind, we at Leaffer Law Group have developed a blog to provide a much-needed resource for understanding and addressing the unique legal needs of nonprofit organizations, charitable foundations and charitably minded for-profit companies. The idea is to inform, engage and collaborate in an open forum where concerns and solutions can be shared.
Many of you are asking the same questions associated with:
- Innovative grantmaking programs
- Achieving and protecting tax-exempt status
- Federal and state reform of charitable activities and charitable giving
- Nonprofit/for-profit tandem structures and related private benefit issues
- New legal structures for social entrepreneurs
- Options for corporate philanthropy
Our vision is that this blog will provide a valuable resource on these topics, as well as the many others that do or will impact nonprofits. We also hope it will generate comments and discussion. So check back often, and feel free to comment on posts or to send us topic suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you.
Next post: We’ll delve into some of the details about nonprofits and permissible political activity.