“Best Practices” strengthen nonprofits but they can bite!

Best practices” are models for conduct and management prevalent in a field that others look to in evaluating an organization’s status. These include internal policies, voluntarily-adopted standards, professional practice and ethical standards, conditions in funding grants (government and private), accounting standards, trade association standards, insurers’ and lenders’ underwriting standards, media perceptions of right and wrong, and other commonly-recognized guidelines.   Not always clear or binding, best practices when ignored can have the same negative impact on a nonprofit as a violation of law, negligent act, or other culpable conduct. [Read more…]

Tax exemptions for nonprofits

2013 Texas Legislature proposes annual review of exemption benefits

SB 140 represented a trend nationwide to initiate periodic top-to-bottom reviews of the tax structure of state government and, in particular, to question any tax credit, preference, incentive, exemption or other tax benefit conferred under state law. This approach not only impacts the state tax laws relating to private interests, industry and business groups, it also puts into question the tax exemptions traditionally enjoyed by nonprofit charitable organizations. [Read more…]

Mandatory community service to graduate —
A good idea?

Analysis of HB 22 – 2013 Texas Legislature

Should college students be required to fulfill 20 hours of “unpaid public service” as a prerequisite for graduation from a Texas higher education institution?

This question may soon be debated in the Texas Legislature thanks to House Bill 22 recently filed by Rep. Martinez Fischer. The bill establishes a new, unfunded Service to Texas Program at each Texas college, university, junior college and technical institute to oversee this proposed new undergraduate graduation requirement. Students seeking a non-degree certificate involving 60 hours of undergraduate study would also be included in the mandate.

[Read more…]

Bake sales appear to escape new Texas health department regulations

Nonprofit and charitable organizations take note . . . 

Preparers of home-baked goods who sell to the public are the subject of new regulations adopted by the Texas Department of State Health Services, effective June 22, 2012. But what about members of nonprofit organizations who voluntarily contribute their favorite “sweets” to a fundraiser involving a bake sale? [Read more…]

Policies to strengthen nonprofit organizations

9th Annual Governance of Nonprofit Organizations
State Bar of Texas, August 2011, Austin,Texas

I. Introduction

Increased public scrutiny of nonprofit organizations and state and federal regulatory changes in response to illegal and unethical activities require a closer examination of the policies, formal and informal, that should be considered in managing and advising a tax-exempt entity.

A number of federal and state statutory enactments mandate general guidelines of conduct and corporate governance but also leave to the individual organization the formulation of distinct policies. These mandates must be addressed with the adoption and observance of policies, usually board-adopted, to comply. [Read more…]