Thursday, November 26, 2020

Sidel & Moore: The Law Affecting Civil Society in Asia

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Mark Sidel (Wisconsin) and David Moore (International Center for Not-for-Profit Law) have posted The Law Affecting Civil Society in Asia:  Developments and Challenges for Nonprofit and Civil Society Organizations.  Here is the abstract:

Asia presents a paradox. Many of the more than forty countries in this vast region are home to
vibrant civil society sectors, engaged in everything from social services to advocacy to mutual
benefit activities and other pursuits that fall within the definitions of non-profit or charitable
activity. Yet in many countries of Asia, government regulatory controls on civil society are
restrictive or highly restrictive. Indeed, based on reports from countries as diverse as India,
China, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, among many others, the legal operating environment is
becoming more restrictive, particularly for advocacy and other groups engaged in independent
civil society activity.

Nicholas Mirkay

 

November 26, 2020 in Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

E. Jensen: College Athletics and UBIT

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Erik Jensen (Case Western Reserve) has published College Athletics and the Tax on Unrelated Business Income: Will 'Student Athletes' Still Be Students After the NCAA Changes Its Rules? in the Journal of Taxation of Investments.  Here is the abstract:

This article considers the effects of the California Fair Pay to Play Act—permitting a student athlete at any California college, beginning in 2023, to profit from income generated by the athlete’s “name, image, or likeness”—and the NCAA’s apparent acceptance of that principle on the liability of big-time athletic colleges for the unrelated business income tax (UBIT). College athletic teams historically have not been subject to UBIT because of the pretense that the participants are student athletes. Although the Fair Pay to Play Act and the NCAA’s response might not yet require discarding that pretense, the probable next step—direct compensation by the colleges, beyond scholarships, for participation in athletics—will make characterization of many athletes as “student athletes” untenable.

Nicholas Mirkay

November 26, 2020 in Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 21, 2020

C. Ahn, J. Houston & S. Kim: The Role of Corporate Board of Directors in Public Charity Lobbying

Kim Houston AhnChanghyun Ahn, Joel F. Houston, and Sehoon Kim (all of the University of Florida) have posted Hidden in Plain Sight: The Role of Corporate Board of Directors in Public Charity Lobbying. Here is the abstract:

Using IRS tax filings by public charities linked to lobbying disclosure and corporate board data, we show that charities with corporate directors on their boards spend more money on lobbying for the connected firms' industry interests. Firms with greater exposure to political risk and lobbying activities more often seek board connections with charities, and the effects of connections are stronger when charities are connected to such firms or when charities are constrained on funding. We rule out assortative matching between directors and charities by controlling for firm-charity pair fixed effects, and address concerns of reverse causality using director turnovers as shocks to firm-charity connections. Consistent with quid-pro-quo relationships between firms and charities, we find that connected firms benefit from increased procurement contracts, and that connected charities receive more grants and donations. Our results highlight executive charitable engagement as a hidden avenue for corporate political activities.

Lloyd Mayer

November 21, 2020 in Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

J. Andreoni & R. Madoff: Calculating DAF Payout

Download (5) Download (4)James Andreoni (San Diego) and Ray Madoff (Boston College) have posted Calculating DAF Payout and What We Learn When We Do It Correctly. Here is the abstract:

The tremendous increase in the use of donor-advised funds for charitable donations has led policy-makers to ask if there is sufficient regulation and oversight of DAFs. In the absence of account level reporting, the debate has focused on the average payout rates of DAF sponsoring organizations, which have been reported by the DAF industry to exceed 20%. We show that the industry-preferred method for calculating payout rate overstates the correct payout by more than 50%. We then argue that the flow rate is uninformative unless grounded in the stock of assets held by the DAF sponsor. We suggest a different measure of flow we call the stockpiling rate. Finally, we show that transfers between DAFSs cause DAF grants to be overstated. Reporting transfers separately would allow a more precise estimate of flow.

Lloyd Mayer

November 21, 2020 in Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

A. Ball: Social Enterprise Lawyering

Download (3)Alina Ball (Hastings) has published Social Enterprise Lawyering in the UMKC Law Review. Here is the abstract:

Social enterprises — businesses that achieve an articulated social mission using market-based strategies — have commanded rare attention in the last decade of corporate law scholarship. The recent enactment of for-profit, mission-driven entity legislation across the country has inspired a significant production of legal scholarship on corporate law innovations and governance considerations within the social enterprise sector. However, this influx of social enterprise legal scholarship has not, surprisingly, translated into a scholarly examination of the methods and strategies that corporate lawyers use when representing social enterprise clients. The proliferation and sustainability of social entrepreneurship will undoubtedly require the assistance of corporate and transactional lawyers who are equipped to address the nuances that social entrepreneurship presents. This Essay uniquely addresses this gap in social enterprise legal scholarship by advocating for “social enterprise lawyers” — corporate lawyers who also intuit how the social justice objectives of their social enterprise clients impact each legal matter. Moreover, social enterprise lawyers, as defined herein, are those corporate lawyers who conduct their lawyering in a manner that is consistent with the social change ethos of social entrepreneurship. As social entrepreneurship challenges fundamental assumptions of standard business practices and theories, social enterprise lawyering invites a re-imagining of conventional corporate lawyering. This Essay hypothesizes that for the nascent social enterprise sector to reach its full potential, there must also be a rise of social enterprise lawyers.

Lloyd Mayer

November 21, 2020 in Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

C. Chapman, M. Homsey, N. Gillespie: A Longitudinal & Multinational Examination of Public Trust in Nonprofits

Download (2) Download (1) DownloadCassandra M. Chapman, Matthew J. Homsey, and Nicole Gillespie (all from the University of Queensland) have published No Global Crisis in Trust: A Longitudinal and Multinational Examination of Public Trust in Nonprofits in the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. Here is the abstract:

Recent high-profile scandals suggest the potential for a crisis of trust in charities, which could have negative consequences for the nonprofit sector as a whole. Although widespread, this crisis narrative has not yet been subjected to empirical examination. To assess the extent to which public trust has changed over time, we examined trust in nongovernmental organizations within 31 countries over nine consecutive years using data from the Edelman Trust Barometer (N = 294,176). Multilevel analysis revealed that, after allowing for differences in absolute levels of trust and trends across countries, there was actually a small increase in global trust in the nonprofit sector. This increase was sharper among men, people aged below 40 years, and people with higher education, income, and media consumption. Overall, we find no evidence of a crisis of trust in nonprofits; scandals within individual organizations have not affected sectoral trust.

Lloyd Mayer

November 21, 2020 in International, Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

B. Leff: Fixing the Johnson Amendment Without Totally Destroying It

BleffBenjamin M. Leff (American) has posted Fixing the Johnson Amendment Without Totally Destroying It. Here is the abstract:

The so-called Johnson Amendment is that portion of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code that prohibits charities from "intervening" in electoral campaigns. Intervention has long been understood to include both contributing charitable funds to campaign coffers and communicating the charity's views about candidates' qualifications for office. The breadth of the Johnson Amendment potentially brings two important values into conflict: the government's interest in preventing tax-deductible contributions to be used for electoral purposes (called "non-subvention") and the speech rights or interests of charities.

For many years, the IRS has taken the position that the Johnson Amendment's prohibition on electoral communications includes the content of a religious leader's speech in an official religious service — a minister may not express support or opposition to a candidate from the pulpit. For at least as many years, some commentators and legislators have found this application of the Johnson Amendment especially problematic, since it implicates directly the freedom of houses of worship speech and religious exercise. These Johnson Amendment critics sought to provide some carve-out from the Johnson Amendment's general application to permit speech that includes ministers' pulpit speech without creating a massive loophole for the Johnson Amendment's general prohibition on campaign intervention. Other commentators have long argued that a limited carve-out for certain types of speech is not possible — that permitting any communication of the organization's views, even in pulpit speech, would provide a massive loophole in the overall treatment of campaign contributions and expenditures.

This Article reviews the leading proposals to fix the Johnson Amendment, and finds them all lacking. It then proposes four types of modifications that could be used to properly balance the speech interests of charities (especially churches) with the government's interest in a level playing field for campaign expenditures (non-subvention). These proposed modifications include:

(i) a non-incremental expenditure tax,

(ii) a reporting regime,

(iii) a disclosure regime, and

(iv) a governance regime.

The Article concludes that in order to properly balance non-subvention with speech interests of charities, a modification of the Johnson Amendment should include some version of all four types of interventions.

Lloyd Mayer

November 21, 2020 in Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Election 2020: Pre-Election Walking Up To (and Over?) the 501(c)(3) Political Campaign Intervention Line

ImagesAs happens every election season, in the run-up to the 2020 election there were a flurry of news stories about Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) charities pushing up against, and maybe pushing through, the political campaign intervention prohibition. With over 65 years of guidance from the IRS, as meticulously compiled by  Steven H. Sholk of Gibbons P.C., you would think just about every possible situation has been addressed, yet charities and candidates continue to come up with new ways of walking right up to, and maybe crossing, that line.

For example, in mid-October the Washington Post reported on a closed-door session of conservative activists, including leaders of a number of 501(c)(3)s, discussing electoral tactics from challenging mail-in ballots to ballot harvesting. The story quoted nonprofit experts  Roger Colinvaux and Marcus Owens as being concerned that the involvement of 501(c)(3) leaders raised questions about their organizations' compliance with the political campaign intervention prohibition. In response, some of those leaders stated they were not there on behalf of the groups they lead.

At the more local level, in Kansas a state senate candidate included on his campaign signs not only that he had founded a church and thrift store, but also included the organization's logo. The candidate insisted that the sign was purely informational. But as I noted to the reporter who wrote the story, the problem is the inclusion of the group's logo, which constitutes the use of the charity's property for the candidate's benefit. And the story also reported appearances by the candidate at two churches, which did not provide his opponent with a similar opportunity to appear.

And of course there were other reports of more common but still problematic support of candidates. These included a Kansas state house candidate using mailing equipment owned by a church; his campaign reimbursed the church for the cost of that use, but it does not appear that the church made the equipment generally available for use by the public or other candidates on similar terms as required by IRS guidance. And a Catholic priest in Mississippi called then candidate Joe BIden "an embarrassment to Catholicism" from the pulpit in late October.

There is no indication that any of these events have led to adverse IRS attention, although of course the IRS has a number of years to pursue an audit or, in the case of the churches, a church tax inquiry.

Lloyd Mayer

November 17, 2020 in Church and State, In the News, Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Brescia, Ansari & Hage, The Legal Needs of Nonprofits: An Empirical Study of Tax-Exempt Organizations and Their Access to Legal Services

Raymond H. Brescia (Albany Law School), Bahareh Ansari (Ph.D. candidate, University at Albany), & Hannah Hage (JD, Albany Law School) have posted The Legal Needs of Nonprofits: An Empirical Study of Tax-Exempt Organizations and Their Access to Legal Services to SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This empirical study, using quantitative and qualitative techniques, attempts to assess the state of the legal needs of non-profit organizations, with an emphasis on the ways in which non-profit organizations are or are not accessing assistance addressing their legal services needs. While most research into the extent to which Americans may or may not be accessing legal services focuses on the legal needs of individuals and families, this study focuses on the legal needs of non-profit groups. Our goal with this research project is to contribute to the growing literature on the scope of unmet legal needs in the United States. The findings from this study suggest that many of the groups we surveyed and with which we communicated do have access to legal representation, particularly as groups grow in terms of their financial wherewithal (that is, the size of their budgets). Smaller groups appear to face greater barriers to obtaining legal services, and we attempt to probe some of the reasons that is the case. At the same time, many groups, large and small, are meeting their legal needs through a range of legal services providers: whether they use legal services providers that are themselves non-profit entities that offer them assistance; they obtain the volunteer services of private lawyers who provide representation; or they are simply paying for legal services themselves. Often, as our findings indicate, they are using a mix of these different resources: they are paying for services, obtaining non-profit legal services free-of-charge, and/or utilizing the services of pro bono counsel. This study attempts to begin to fill the gap in the research by exploring not just the unmet legal needs of non-profit groups, but also probing the ways in which non-profit entities that are accessing legal services are able to obtain those services, and from whom. It also attempts to create a taxonomy of needs: an assessment of the types of legal needs the organizations we surveyed face.

Samuel D. Brunson

October 6, 2020 in Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Pittsburgh Tax Review: Special Issue on the Tax Reform Act of 1969

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The Pittsburgh Tax Review has published a special issue marking the 50th anniversary of the Tax Reform Act of 1969. Here is the articles:

The 1969 Tax Reform Act and Charities: Fifty Years Later by Philip Hackney

The Private Foundation Rules at Fifty: How Did We Get Them and Do They Meet Current Needs? by James J. Fishman

The Private Foundation Excise Tax on Self-Dealing: Contours, Comparisons, and Character by Ellen P. Aprill

The Five Percent Fig Leaf by Ray D. Madoff

Foundation Regulation in Our Age of Impact by Dana Brakman Reiser

Private Operating Foundation Reform and J. Paul Getty by Khrista McCarden

Lloyd Mayer

 

September 19, 2020 in Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Breen: Regulatory European Philanthropy: Lessons from the Scholarly Legacy of Evelyn Brody

Photo (1)Oonagh B. Breen (University College Dublin) has published Regulating European Philanthropy: Lessons from the Scholarly Legacy of Evelyn Brody in the Nopnrofit Policy Forum. Here is the abstract:

Throughout her long and distinguished academic career, spanning more than three decades, as a Professor of Law at Chicago-Kent University, Evelyn Brody’s work has interrogated three broad themes that underpin and drive charity law – the tax treatment of charities; the governance framework applicable to charities, its application, monitoring and enforcement; and the evolution of charitable structures over time, whether from an economic convergence perspective, a constitutional right of association perspective or from a public/private benefit perspective. This article reviews Brody’s contribution in these key areas. It explores the resonance of her work outside of the United States and its relevance for EU non-profit scholars before looking to Brody’s research legacy for future nonprofit scholars on both sides of the Atlantic.

Lloyd Mayer

September 19, 2020 in International, Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Galle: The Quick (Spending) and the Dead: The Agency Costs of Forever Philanthropy

Bdg9-200x300Brian D. Galle (Georgetown) has posted The Quick (Spending) and the Dead: The Agency Costs of Forever Philanthropy, which will be published in the Vanderbilt Law Review. Here is the abstract:

American philanthropic institutions control upwards of a trillion dollars of wealth. Because contributions to these entities are deductible from both income and estate taxes, and the entities’ earnings are tax-free, that trillion dollars is heavily underwritten by contemporary taxpayers. Law offers little assurance that those who pay will be those who benefit, however. To the contrary, since these subsidies become more valuable the longer charitable assets are left unspent, law strongly encourages philanthropies to save rather than spend, even in situations of great current need. Other legal rules further encourage grant-making institutions to strive to exist “in perpetuity.”

This Essay offers new empirical evidence of the social cost of forever philanthropy, that is, of institutions that long outlive their founders. Drawing on a relatively unique dataset of foundation donors, and combining it with a large archive of tax returns filed by private foundations, I search for evidence that managers of long-lasting organizations depart significantly from the preferences of the organization’s supporters. I find that a firm’s overhead, or the ratio of administrative expenses to grants made, jumps by about 12% as soon as the organization’s last living donor dies. Payout rates, or the share of assets spent each year, move sharply in the opposite direction, falling about 7% at that time.

I interpret these findings as evidence of substantial agency costs. Since the timing of the donor’s death is relatively random, these outcomes offer convincing causal evidence that the ability of a donor to monitor her foundation’s managers importantly affects whether those managers follow her wishes. I argue that overhead and payout changes in the direction I observe strongly suggest that managers, once free from direct oversight, are operating the firm for their own comfort and security. Thus, by unnaturally extending the lifespan of foundations, law is encouraging wasteful allocation of taxpayer-supported charitable resources.

Therefore, I suggest several policy options that would reduce the agency-cost problem. Among others, I support maintaining or increasing legal requirements for mandatory distributions by private foundations, and closing legal loopholes offered by a relatively new charitable phenomenon, the donor advised fund.

Michelle Layser (Illinois) has posted a review of the article on TaxProf Blog.

Lloyd Mayer

September 19, 2020 in Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (1)

Haber: Legal Issues in Mutual Aid Operations

PhotoMichael Haber (Hofstra) has posted Legal Issues in Mutual Aid Operations: A Preliminary Guide. Here is the abstract:

This is a preliminary guide to legal issues that impact groups engaged in mutual aid. It is targeted to groups that have been responding to the COVID-19 crisis in New York, but has information that may be relevant for groups engaged in mutual aid in other contexts and other places. It gives legal information on topics including: risk of liability; questions around governance and incorporation; safety policies, liability waivers, and insurance; banking and mutual aid; funding mutual aid and taxation of mutual aid; crowdfunding regulations; and food storage and safety rules.

Lloyd Mayer

September 19, 2020 in Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Langford (two papers): Conflicts and Coherence in the Charities Sphere; Using the Corporate Form for Public Benefit

Langford_rosemaryRosemary Teele Langford (Melbourne) has posted two articles.  The first is Conflicts and Coherence in the Charities Sphere: Would a Conflict By Any Other Name Proscribe the Same?, 14 Journal of Equity 1 (2020). Here is the abstract:

Proscriptions on conflicts of interest have long been a core component of governance regimes. In the charities sphere such proscriptions arise from a number of sources, including general law, statute and governance standards articulated by the regulator. Unfortunately the wording of relevant conflicts duties varies extensively, giving rise to acute incoherence and uncertainty. This article undertakes detailed critical analysis of the myriad of conflicts duties in order to provide certainty and comprehensive guidance. This resolution is relevant beyond the charitable sphere given the multitude of ways in which conflicts proscriptions are expressed in other governance contexts.

The second is Use of the Corporate Form for Public Benefit - Revitalisation of Australian Corporations Law, which will be published in 43 University of New South Wales Law Journal No. 3 (2020). Here is the abstract:

This article specifically addresses the theme of revitalisation of Australian law in the facilitation of purpose-based companies. It is the second of two articles on purpose-based governance in the charitable and for-profit spheres. Building on the first article, this article critically analyses relevant features of the Australian corporations law regime. It pays close attention to challenges relating to the application of directors’ duties where companies have multiple purposes and to the drafting of appropriate constitutional provisions. In so doing it draws on insights from overseas jurisdictions that have enacted legislation to enable purpose-based companies.

Lloyd Mayer

September 19, 2020 in International, Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Li: Global Civil Society Under the New INGO Regulatory Law (China)

Shuoyan Li (Shanghai University) has published Global Civil Society Under the New INGO Regulatory Law: A Comparative Case Study of Two INGOs in China, in VOLUNTAS. Here is the abstract:

This paper tries to explain why similar International Nongovernmental Organizations (INGOs) have different scopes under the new regulatory law in China. While previous studies have often associated fragmented authoritarianism with more room for civil sectors, the unintended consequence has been largely ignored. The paper argues that while civil sectors benefit from decentralized bureaucratic politics, the conflict between bureaucracies may also become an obstacle. This argument is based on a comparative case study of two similar INGOs whose missions are to solve poverty issues. While World Vision International had difficulties becoming a national organization after establishing several provincial offices with the help of local authorities, Oxfam succeeded and received permission from CPAFFC because it terminated collaboration with other local authorities, which put CPAFFC at ease. The interviews illustrate that competition among different departments and concerns about political risk lead to different outcomes for civil society. Government agencies will doubt an INGO’s willingness to commit to a new relationship if it has too many partners. This implication reveals the complex effects of fragmented bureaucracy on INGOs. The decentralized political structure may lead to different outcomes for INGOs. It is necessary for INGOs to understand the political logic of the new INGO law so that they can choose the proper strategy to maximize their benefits.

Lloyd Mayer

September 19, 2020 in International, Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

López-Arceiz & Bellostas: Nonprofit governance and outside corruption


811522Ana_Jose_Bellostas-PerezgruesoFrancisco-José López-Arceiz (Universidad Pública de Navarra) and Ana J. Bellostas (University of Zaragoza) have published Nonprofit governance and outside corruption: The role of accountability, stakeholder participation, and management systems in Nonprofit Management & Leadership. Here is the abstract:

Outside corruption implies that a nonprofit organizatio

n is used to commit an infraction or crime. In Spain, this type of corruption has been detected in the context of public nonprofits as a result of the legal reform that enabled the judgment of the criminal responsibility of legal entities. A large percentage of these entities were affected by the reform, but little is known about the possible practices that can altogether prevent this behavior. In particular, there are few studies that consider nonprofit governance as a possible measure to avoid corruption in this context. For this reason, our aim is to analyze the role of certain nonprofit governance practices in fighting corruption. Using structural equation modeling, our results reveal that nonprofit governance is a key tool for mitigating corruption, although the weights of the different practices are not the same.

Lloyd Mayer

September 19, 2020 in International, Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mayer: Charitable Crowdfunding

Lloyd_mayerI have posted Charitable Crowdfunding. Here is the abstract:

Charitable crowdfunding is a global and rapidly growing new method for raising money to benefit charities and individuals in need. While mass fundraising has existed for more than a hundred years, crowdfunding is distinguishable from those earlier efforts because of its low cost, speed of implementation, and broad reach. Reflecting these advantages, it now accounts annually for
billions of dollars raised from tens of millions of donors through hundreds of Internet platforms such as Charidy, Facebook, GoFundMe, and GlobalGiving. Although most charitable crowdfunding campaigns raise only modest amounts, every year several efforts attract tens of millions of dollars in donations. However, charitable crowdfunding also has its downsides. Donors may misunderstand how the beneficiaries will use the funds raised or a campaign that unexpectedly goes viral may overwhelm a small charity or greatly exceed an individual’s needs. There have also been instances of outright fraud, as well as concerns raised about money laundering and terrorist financing.

Existing laws relating to charitable solicitations and charities more generally have either uncertain or limited application to charitable crowdfunding. Broader fraud and money laundering laws may apply to the worst abuses, but these usually criminal statutes are rarely invoked. The challenge faced by government regulators is therefore whether and how to modify existing laws to address the downsides of this new activity without unduly inhibiting the generosity that charitable crowdfunding encourages. This challenge is made more difficult by the lack of information regarding the positive effects as well as the downsides of crowdfunding. Finally, existing scholarship relating to charitable crowdfunding focuses on either the motivations of donors or tax implications instead of addressing this regulatory problem, even as some governments are beginning to develop proposals to address this activity.

This Article fills this gap by reviewing the existing, incomplete information regarding charitable crowdfunding and theories for regulating in the face of uncertainty to develop recommendations for addressing this new and growing phenomenon. Given we know very little about the positive and negative effects of charitable crowdfunding, and given that any harms are likely modest, purely financial, and often readily cured, I recommend that governments should at this time only take two steps. First, governments should require notification of designated beneficiaries to help ensure funds raised reach those beneficiaries. Second, governments should require notification of regulators, but only for the small subset of campaigns that cross a relatively high threshold, to both provide information about the scale and growth of charitable crowdfunding and deter problems with the largest campaigns. Additionally, I disagree with initial steps taken by some governments to impose more comprehensive consent and administration requirements on many or all charitable crowdfunding campaigns because such requirements are unnecessary hindrances on this new and innovative way of encouraging generosity, given there is little evidence of widespread problems and given that any potential harm is almost certainly relatively small and easily remedied if it occurs.

Lloyd Mayer

September 19, 2020 in International, Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

McMillan: Noncharitable Nonprofit Organizations and Tax Policy: Working Toward a Public Benefit Theory

Mcmillan-lori200x238Lori A. McMillan (Washburn) has posted Noncharitable Nonprofit Organizations and Tax Policy: Working Toward a Public Benefit Theory, which will be published 59 Washburn Law Journal No. 2 (2020). Here is the abstract:

Noncharitable Nonprofits in Canada are exempt from federal income tax, but are subjected to little scrutiny to qualify for this exemption. The tax policy behind this exemption is explored in this paper, trying to determine what should underpin the exemption for these types of organization.

Lloyd Mayer

September 19, 2020 in International, Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Molk & Sokol: The Challenges of Nonprofit Governance

Molk-peter-DSC00926-500x500Sokol-DanielPeter Molk and D. Daniel Sokol (both University of Florida) have posted The Challenges of Nonprofit Governance, which will be published in the Boston College Law Review. Here is the abstract:

The stakes for proper nonprofit governance are extremely high. Over 1.5 million nonprofits are registered with the IRS, collectively empl

oying 12 million people and accounting for 5.4% of US GDP. Yet while for-profit companies have significant checks on the behavior of boards and management, nonprofit firms lack many of the same types of internal and external governance control mechanisms. COVID-19 is just the latest in a long history of shocks to expose the lack of preparedness and capability of many nonprofit boards in fulfilling their essential governance functions.

This Article contributes to the corporate governance literature by identifying aspects of nonprofit governance that create unnecessary risk to nonprofit entities and to society overall. Currently many governance failures that would be corrected in traditional for-profit entities go unaddressed among nonprofits. We make unique contributions to addressing these governance shortcomings by suggesting an enforcement reorientation by both public and private actors. Our novel solutions encompass disclosure, certification, oversight by state attorneys general, and federal actors.

Lloyd Mayer

September 19, 2020 in Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Schizer: Enhancing Efficiency at Nonprofits with Analysis and Disclosure

David_schizerDavid M. Schizer (Columbia) has posted Enhancing Efficiency at Nonprofits with Analysis and Disclosure. Here is the abstract:

The U.S. nonprofit sector spends $2.54 trillion each year. If the sector were a country, it would have the eighth largest economy in the world, ahead of Brazil, Italy, Canada, and Russia. The government provides nonprofits with billions in tax subsidies, but instead of evaluating the quality of their work, it leaves this responsibility to nonprofit managers, boards, and donors. The best nonprofits are laboratories of innovation, but unfortunately some are stagnant backwaters, which waste money on out-of-date missions and inefficient programs. To promote more innovation and less stagnation, this Article makes two contributions to the literature.

First, this Article breaks new ground in identifying sources of inefficiency at nonprofits. The literature focuses on incentives, arguing that managers and board members are less motivated to run a nonprofit efficiently because they cannot keep its profits. In response, this Article emphasizes that the problem is not just motivation, but also information. Measuring success is harder at nonprofits. Instead of tracking profitability, they use metrics that are less reliable and harder to measure. These measurement challenges complicate the efforts even of dedicated and competent managers to operate efficiently. While this information problem is familiar, another has been largely overlooked in the literature: When success is hard to measure, incompetence and self-interested practices are less visible, and thus are harder to stop. For example, if managers regularly overpay vendors, the consequence at a for-profit firm (lower profits) is easier to observe than at a nonprofit (less effective service for beneficiaries).

Second, this Article recommends a response to this underappreciated source of inefficiency: better analysis and disclosure as a strategy for organizational change. In principle, nonprofits are supposed to maximize social return, but how can they operationalize this abstract principle? To help them do so, this Article recommends three questions that nonprofits should answer every year: first, how important are the challenges the nonprofit is trying to address?; second, how effective are the nonprofit’s responses to these challenges?; and third, is the nonprofit the right organization to respond to these challenges? These questions press nonprofit managers and boards to be more explicit about priorities, monitor progress, improve and expand high-value programs, and fix or shut down ineffective ones. This Article also recommends that nonprofits should disclose this analysis to the public, even though current law does not require them to do so. This disclosure would empower donors and rating agencies to be more effective monitors. It also would help donors make better informed philanthropic choices and would enable charities to borrow innovative ideas from each other more easily.

Lloyd Mayer

September 19, 2020 in Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)