For Purpose Law Group Blog

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At the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofit boards scrambled to respond to this enormous crisis. In the first month or so, many embraced emergency accommodations for governance – including virtual meetings – to tackle the extraordinary questions and decisions. By early summer, they felt weighed down by the unrelenting challenges. “Nonprofit leaders need to keep reminding themselves,” advised expert Alan Cantor in mid-June in Nonprofit Leaders, Get Used to the Uncertainty and Focus on
In 1636, a group of fishermen working on an island off the coast of the Massachusetts Bay Colony went on strike. It was reportedly the first collective bargaining action in the New World. Contrary to what most of us think we know about labor disputes in our nation, that “history …  substantially precedes the revolutionary period.” Of course, the peak of organized labor’s power was in the mid-1950’s, when “unions had successfully organized approximately…
There’s a bit of OMG humor flying around the internet right now that’s gone viral because it resonates so well.  With apologies to the anonymous original author, here’s the gist: “There’s probably not a single person back in 2015 who got ‘what do you think you’ll be doing in five years?’ right.” Fresh out of the gate after New Year’s Day 2020, we took a crack at predicting the next twelve months. At the conclusion…
When the news broke in July 2020 about the massive security breach against Blackbaud, perhaps the nonprofit sector’s leading provider of cloud-based data-management services, there was immediate alarm. By late September, fuller – and more disturbing – details emerged.  We wrote about it in Blackbaud Data Breach: Fallout for Nonprofits (September 29, 2020). The intrusion has been described as a series of classic “pfishing” maneuvers that grabbed the data supplied by nonprofits primarily from around…
With the COVID-19 pandemic swirling around us for many months, there have been repeated calls for America’s private foundations to step up with bigger-than-usual payouts and simpler, more flexible, grant rules and procedures. To a large extent, they have responded quickly and generously since the earliest days of the crisis. This important assistance to the nation’s nonprofits has been received with gratitude and broad approval.  But that doesn’t mean that the many academics and other…
Let’s just say that the nonprofit community has another … “situation” … on its hands. Long story short: The Internal Revenue Service is required by statute to automatically revoke the tax-exempt status of any nonprofit that is subject to a duty to file an annual information return (Form 990 series), but fails to comply for three years in a row.  The tax agency sent revocation notices to over 31,500 nonprofits that (for the…
This year’s California Legislature wrapped up its business, as usual, on the final day of August, waiting anxiously to see if Governor Gavin Newsom would give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, by his end-of-September deadline, to individual bills.  But this legislative session – like everything else during COVID-19 – was anything but usual. There were quarantines and long recesses. The crisis turned the Golden State’s January 2020 sunny prospects (with a massive budget surplus) into…
This year’s legislative session in California ended on schedule in late summer, but there had been several interruptions by pandemic-related recesses. Lawmakers had hoped to take up many important issues but most of these plans were thwarted because of more urgent priorities. Some legislators and Sacramento observers described the term as tense and unsettling,  despite there being single-party control of the governorship and the Legislature. For the nonprofit sector, there has been enthusiasm for…
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc all around the nonprofit sector. Among the hardest hit are arts organizations. A recent news item sums up the pain: Brooklyn Museum to Sell 12 Works as Pandemic Changes the Rules (September 16, 2020) Robin Pogrebin, The New York Times. “Selling off work from a museum — known as deaccessioning — to pay for operating costs has long been taboo.” Under well-established rules of The Association of Art…
As COVID-19 quickly engulfed the United States in mid-March, the normal world of work as we knew it evaporated.  Faced with lockdowns and quarantines, much of the activity in the for-profit, nonprofit, and government sectors shut down entirely or abruptly switched off-site.  The sudden move to remote operations was just one aspect of this enormous pandemic calamity. Initially, the focus was on the daunting details of hooking up and configuring electronic and communications hardware and…