Chronicle of Philanthropy Feature on 2013 Charities Policy Conference Notes Regulators' Need for More Resources and Data (Feb. 12)
Charities Project Lead Counsel Lott Moderates "Ask the Regulator Panel" at ARNOVA Annual Conference (Nov.15)
Charities Regulation & Oversight Project Lead Counsel Cindy Lott moderated a panel on state regulation of charities at the annual conference of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA). The panel, titled "Ask the Regulator: Current Issues and Future Challenges," included two assistant attorneys general - Belinda Johns (Senior Assistant Attorney General, California) and Mark Pacella (Chief Deputy Attorney General, Pennsylvania) - discussing a range of issues including the jurisdiction and activities of attorneys general, recent high-profile cases, emerging issues such as the legal implications of technology for the sector, and new areas and resources for research.
View an outline of the panel presentation moderated by Lott.
Charities Lead Counsel Cindy Lott Discusses the Importance of State Charities Regulation in Chronicle of Philanthropy (Nov. 15)
In two recent pieces in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Charities Regulation & Oversight Project Lead Counsel Cindy M. Lott discussed the importance of a healthy charities oversight regime at both the state and federal levels. In an October 28 piece, Lott argued that strong regulation can benefit the charitable sector as a whole by protecting ethical and competent charities, and noted the resource constraints faced by charities regulators in many states. In a November 15 piece featuring nonprofit leaders' advice to President Obama for his second term, Lott emphasized the need for further funding, including federal resources, to support staffing and technology for state charities officials, who have a fundamental and continuing role in helping to ensure integrity and transparency for a robust sector.
State Attorneys General have issued warnings to consumers to be wary of charity and contractor scams in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, the impact of which is expected to generate significant contributions to nonprofits claiming to provide relief and services to those affected by the storm. They emphasized that those considering making a donation should make sure that it goes to a reputable charity, noting that fraudsters may use door-to-door solicitations, emails or telephone calls. The Internal Revenue Service and the Better Business Bureau also encouraged residents to research charities before making donations, using the BBB charity/business reviews
or the IRS's database of tax-exempt organizations
.State Attorneys General have issued warnings to consumers to be wary of charity and contractor scams in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, the impact of which is expected to generate significant contributions to nonprofits claiming to provide relief and services to those affected by the storm. They emphasized that those considering making a donation should make sure that it goes to a reputable charity, noting that fraudsters may use door-to-door solicitations, emails or telephone calls. The Internal Revenue Service and the Better Business Bureau also encouraged residents to research charities before making donations, using the BBB charity/business reviews
or the IRS's database of tax-exempt organizations
Regulators and Nonprofit Leaders Discuss Emerging Issues at Annual NAAG/NASCO Conference (Oct.3)
At the annual conference of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) / National Association of State Charities Officials (NASCO) in Silver Spring Maryland on October 1, state and federal regulators, nonprofit leaders, fundraising professionals, legal counsel, academics and others, discussed a range of issues affecting the sector, with a particular focus on cause marketing, Internet giving platforms, hybrid organizations and the regulation of these emerging trends. Charities Project Lead Counsel Cindy Lott presented at the conference, discussing the Charities Project’s collaboration with NASCO. In his keynote address at the conference, BBB Wise Giving Alliance President H. Art Taylor announced a new initiative to review the truthfulness of charitable fundraising solicitations, including direct-mail solicitations, commercials, and telemarketing scripts from both randomly selected charities and those that have generated complaints or been the subject of media reports.
Read the Nonprofit Quarterly’s Rick Cohen’s key takeaways from the conference here.
Charities Project Lead Counsel Lott Presents Keynote Address at Texas State Bar CLE Course on Nonprofit Governance (August 25)
On August 23, Charities Regulation and Oversight Project Lead Counsel Cindy Lott gave the keynote address at the Texas State Bar Association's 10th annual course on nonprofit governance. The address, and Lott's supporting paper, are titled "The Electronic Face of Your Nonprofit Organization: Legal Liabilities and Considerations," and offered an overview of the various costs, benefits and risks posed to nonprofit organizations by their use of technology. Topics addressed included the use of social media, privacy and data security, intellectual property and state jurisdiction over interactive websites and other electronic communications.
Charities Project Lead Counsel Lott Participates in Roundtable Discussion on Philanthropic Transparency at the Aspen Institute (May 9, 2012)
On May 10th, Senior Counsel Cindy M. Lott participated in a roundtable discussion on Philanthropic Transparency: How Public Should Private Philanthropy Be? The roundtable discussion was be hosted by The Aspen Institute Justice And Society Program. Other panelists include: Rick Cohen National Correspondent, Nonprofit Quarterly; Jack Horak, Founder, Nonprofit Organizations Practice Area, Reid & Riege, P.C. and John Tyler, General Counsel, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Video of the discussion may be viewed here. Lead Counsel Lott's remarks begin at approximately 43:36.
Charities Lead Counsel Lott Named to National Board of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance (Jan. 24, 2012)
Charities Regulation and Oversight Project Lead Counsel Cindy Lott has been named to the Board of Directors of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. The Wise Giving Alliance assists donors in making informed giving decisions by producing evaluative reports on national charities and publishes a quarterly magazine, the Wise Giving Guide. Lott’s membership to the national Board is for a three-year term. The Wise giving Alliance website may be accessed at http://www.bbb.org/us/Wise-Giving/.
Charities Project Posts New Webinar Featuring Former Director of I.R.S. Exempt Organizations Division (Dec. 14, 2011)
Charities Project Lead Counsel Cindy Lott Presents at ARNOVA’s 40th Annual Conference (Nov. 19, 2011)
Charities Project Lead Counsel Cindy Lott attended and presented at the 40th annual conference of the Association for Nonprofit Resources and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), held November 17-19. ARNOVA is the premier association for the international academic community studying the nonprofit, voluntary and philanthropic sector. The title of this year’s conference was “Diversity in the Voluntary Sector: Who Are the Participants, Funders, Beneficiaries, and Volunteers?” Lott’s presentation at the annual conference follows her participation in previous invitation-only ARNOVA meetings and symposia focused on determining future charitable sector research projects to be undertaken by the academy.
NASCO 2011 Conference Focuses on Emerging Charitable Regulatory Issues (Oct. 5, 2011)
The National Association of State Charities Officials held its 2011 conference from October 2 – 4 in Silver Spring Maryland, addressing a range of emerging regulatory issues, including charities' responsibilities in the use of new technology and how regulators should respond to protect the public and charitable organizations from fraud and deception. Conference participants included state and federal regulators, private attorneys and consultants, and members of the charitable sector. Assistant State Attorneys general led a number of presentations and breakout sessions on topics including the legal implications of social media (Bob Carlson, MO), privacy (Mark Pacella, PA), international fundraising solicitation (Karin Goldman, NY), alternative corporate structures (David Spackman, KY and Elizabeth Grant, OR), board oversight (Eric Carriker, MA), the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (Terry Knowles, NH), and charities registration (Chris Cash, CO and Hugh Jones, HI), among others. View the final agenda for the 2011 conference here
Charities Project Lead Counsel Cindy Lott Speaks at Indiana Nonprofit Capacity Building Conference
(Sept. 28, 2011)
Charities Project lead counsel Cindy Lott attended the Indiana Nonprofit Capacity Building Conference on September 28, co-leading a workshop on the legal implications of charitable fundraising via social media. The Conference, held at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, is designed to assist nonprofits in their governance, administration, and delivery of services. These goals are accomplished through the discussion of issues and innovative strategies, professional networking and the recognition of outstanding nonprofit leaders. In her presentation, Lott discussed the role of states and the federal government in regulating charities, including the activities and jurisdiction of attorneys general, and introduced attendees to the primary legal issues implicated by the use of social media by charities, with a focus on fundraising. Some of the issues raised by social media fundraising and discussed in the workshop include: maintaining control over branding, privacy concerns, the potential for defamation claims, and proper management of intellectual property and proprietary information. The Indiana Attorney General’s Office, which oversees the regulation of charities in the state, served as a program partner for the conference. The Attorney General’s Charities website includes information and resources for charities, donors and professional fundraisers, and is located here
. The Conference website is located here
Charities Project Hosts Meeting and Webinar Filming on Social Mission / Hybrid Organizations (June 29, 2011)
On June 28 and 29, 2011, the Charities Law Project of the National State Attorneys General Program, led by Senior Counsel Cindy Lott, convened state regulators, academics and private attorneys for a meeting and webinar filming on the subject of social mission / hybrid organizations, a topic of increasing importance as states propose and adopt new organizational forms blending charitable and for-profit missions and methods. Attendees included attorneys from the Federal Trade Commission; state regulators from attorneys’ general and secretary of states’ offices; academics from Harvard University, George Washington University and Brooklyn Law School; and private sector affiliates who advise and represent business and nonprofit entities.
Hybrid entities, which may take many different shapes and names - including low profit liability companies (L3C), benefit corporations, and flexible purpose organizations - pose a variety of challenges to state and federal officials in the areas of charities regulation, consumer protection, taxes and business associations. The meeting supplied participants with a review of the economic and legal context for hybrid organizations, regulators’ jurisdiction over hybrids, and the policy implications of current and future state legislative activity in this area. California, which has three pending bills that would establish new hybrid forms, was examined in particular detail as a case study. Regulators then conveyed their observations and concerns, leading into a facilitated Q & A and discussion. The meeting concluded with a closed-door session for regulators only.
The webinar filming on June 29 featured several experts from the larger meeting and was designed to provide a base of information for states seeking to develop and improve their regulation of social mission / hybrid organizations. The webinar will touch on regulators’ jurisdiction over hybrid organizations; the origins, purpose and characteristics (legal or otherwise) of these entities; and issues of concern for the sector, regulators and private attorneys. The webinar will be made publicly available on the Charities Project of National State Attorneys General Program’s website, http://www.law.columbia.edu/center_program/ag/policy/CharitiesProj
Charities Project Lead Counsel Lott Attends Meeting on Public Policy for Nonprofits
(June 3, 2011)
On June 2 and 3, Charities Project Lead Counsel Cindy Lott attended an invitation-only symposium hosted by the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action
(ARNOVA) in Washington, D.C. The Symposium, “Public Policy Issues in Nonprofit Financing,” was a follow-up to ARNOVA’s larger October 2010 Symposium, which produced a “Proposed Research Agenda” identifying areas of inquiry where new research is needed. The most recent Symposium took as its starting point two research priorities identified in October’s event: the need to better understand different forms of nonprofit financing and the need to better understand the effects of regulatory and tax policies. Sessions addressed the relationship between government and nonprofits at the level of funding, contracting and provision of public services, and the purpose and impact of tax exemptions for charitable organizations.
Charities Project Lead Counsel Lott and State Assistant Attorneys General Serve as Faculty in Georgetown Program on Tax Exempt Organizations (April 29, 2011)
Charities Project Lead Counsel Cindy Lott, advisory committee members Victoria Bjorklund and Marcus Owens, and state assistant attorneys general Bob Carlson (MO) and Belinda Johns (CA), served as faculty for the 28th annual Georgetown Law School Continuing Legal Education Program “Representing & Managing Tax-Exempt Organizations.” Lott, Carslon and Johns led a Friday April 29 session entitled “Anatomy of a State AG Investigation” on the purpose, authority, structure and operation of state attorney general oversight of charitable organizations. Specifically, the panel explained the process by which a state attorney general office may institute and carry out an investigation pursuant to its mandate to protect charitable assets within the state.
In addition to the session featuring Lott, Carlson and Johns, Charities Project Advisory Committee Member Marcus Owens co-led a session on “intermediate sanctions.” Advisory Committee member Victoria Bjorkland co-led a session on supporting organizations
and donor advised funds
. Other sessions at this year’s conference included nonprofit corporate restructuring, using affiliated entities for advocacy and politics, tax issues for churches and religious organizations, foreign charitable activities, executive compensation and many more.
The Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations & Voluntary Actions has released a report based on its October 2010 Symposium on Public Policy for Nonprofits. Cindy Lott, State AG Program Senior Counsel, attended the invitation-only meeting to discuss the contours and impact of state regulation on nonprofits. The conference convened individuals from a wide range of professional backgrounds and academic disciplines, including the heads of state nonprofit associations, university-based scholars, researchers and analysts from non-profit think tanks and national associations, and others.
Charities regulators from 35 states and American Samoa gathered on the Columbia campus for a conference entitled At the Intersection of Technology, the Charitable Sector and State Regulators. The conference was co-sponsored by the Charities Regulation and Oversight Project of the National State Attorney General Program at Columbia Law School and the National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute (NAGTRI).