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The 2021 NAAG/NASCO Virtual Conference – Noteworthy Issues for Nonprofits

The 2021 National Association of Attorneys General/ National Association of State Charity Officials (NAAG/NASCO) was held on October 13, 2021. Like the previous year, the conference was a virtual. The agenda touched on issues of COVID-related impacts, enforcement actions, state and charitable cooperation, charities engaging in for-profit efforts, and an inside look into the work of state enforcers. Here are a few topics covered by state regulators and other panelists at the 2021 NAAG/NASCO Conference in more detail.

Impact of COVID-19
The impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the charitable sector was a focus of the conference. Yael Fuchs, NASCO President and Co-Section Chief for the Charities Bureau of the New York Attorney’s General Office, pointed to many state regulatory changes in areas such as virtual meeting guidance, registration deadline extensions, changes to signature requirements, and modified filing requirements. Some of these changes can be found in the NASCO chart of state registrations laws. While many of the pandemic related modifications are set to, or have already, expired, NASCO is looking for feedback as to what virtual components and guidance modifications should stay. For further information on virtual member meetings, please read Virtual Nonprofit Board and Member Meetings in the Time of COVID by my colleague Jeremy Coffey.

Ms. Fuchs described the effects the pandemic has had on filings requiring regulatory approval. While the trends are anecdotal, it was a shared observation that charity regulators are seeing an increase in divestment of real property, deaccessioning of art, mergers, and amendments to certificates of incorporation. She further noted that charity regulators have not yet seen an increase in endowment modifications and dissolutions, but based on historic trends, they expect these types of transactions may be forthcoming in the near future.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Tracy Thorleifson, Attorney and FTC’s leading expert on charitable solicitation fraud, highlighted some of the key work the FTC has been doing in the charitable sphere, and explained the role the FTC plays in charitable regulation. Specifically, the FTC has regulatory authority under the FTC Act to prosecute sham charities engaged in fraudulent and deceptive fundraising activities. The FTC also has oversight over robocalls when made by fundraisers hired by charities (i.e., professional fundraisers) on the federal level. The FTC encourages everyone to report any suspected or known charitable fraud activity to www.reportfraud.ftc.gov.

Policy Updates and Trends
Courtney M. Aladro, Assistant Attorney General and the Chief of the Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division at the Massachusetts Attorney’s General Office, NASCO Board Member, and Chair of the Policy Committee, presented a handful of legislation and policy changes from the past year.

State Legislation
The first focus was on two state legislative changes. The Washington Nonprofit Corporation Act (Chapter 24.03 RCW) makes changes to the existing regulatory regime. First, it updates the rules governing electronic communications and member meetings. Second, it enhances the Attorney General oversight of charitable assets held by nonprofit corporations. Finally, it allows for “domestication” and for-profit to nonprofit conversion. This new act will go into effect January 1st, 2022.

The other state legislation highlighted was the California Bill on oversight of charitable giving on online platforms (AB 488), which was signed into law on October 7th, 2021. The bill requires online platforms facilitating charitable fundraising to register with the Attorney General’s office. It also requires certain disclosures and prompt distribution of donations. Finally, it prohibits solicitations for charities that are not “in good standing” with the Attorney’s General Registry of Charitable Trusts, the Franchise Tax Board, or the IRS. NASCO has a crowdfunding working group that is continuing to monitor online fundraising activities. For a deeper understating of this bill, please read California Enacts New Law to Regulate Charitable Fundraising Platforms by my colleague Karen Wu.

Federal legislation
Ms. Aladro highlighted two federal bills applicable to charitable organizations. The first bill was the Fraud and Scam Reduction Act (HR 1215). This act was supported by NAAG/NASCO in an open letter sent on behalf of 47 states. The bill passed the House on April 15, 2021 and is currently awaiting Senate approval. The bill, if passed, would establish a Senior Scams Prevention Advisory Group to support training and education efforts to identify and prevent scams targeting the elderly. The bill would also establish the Office for the Prevention of Fraud Targeting Seniors in the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the FTC.

The other federal bill discussed was the Accelerating Charitable Efforts Act (S 1981, known as the “ACE Act”). This bill, which was introduced on June 9th, would create new rules for private foundations and donor-advised funds (DAF). The legislation takes aim at regulating DAF funds specific to deduction eligibility and payout requirements and timelines.

Supreme Court Decision
Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta was discussed. In this case California enacted a rule requiring all charities that fundraise in the state to disclose their confidential IRS Form 990 Schedule B, if they filed one, with the California Registry of Charitable Trust. The Supreme Court found this rule unconstitutional and struck it down. In doing so, it did acknowledge that states can obtain Schedule B information through subpoenas and audits, but only if there is an underlying reason. In response to this case, California, Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York have altered their Schedule B collection rules and/or practices. For more information on this case leading into the Supreme Court’s opinion, please read Schedule B Disclosure Cases Head to the Supreme Court – Is Donor Privacy Threatened? by my colleague Seth Perlman.

Alternative Nonprofit Fundraising
Brian Yacker, Adjunct Professor at the University of California Irvine, discussed issues surrounding alternative fundraising. Alternative fundraising can include many things (for example auctions or “virtual” bake sales), special event fundraisers such as games (raffles, bingo, etc.), virtual events (gala, run/walk, etc.), or crowdfunding. Some of these activities may generate unrelated business income tax (“UBIT”). If the amount of unrelated business activities become too substantial, it could jeopardize an organization’s tax-exempt status. It is therefore important that nonprofit boards keep a vigilant eye on the type of fundraising activities that generate UBIT to ensure that it does not become too substantial. It is also important that these activities are properly reported to the IRS on the Form 990. Failing to report properly could lead to tax liabilities, penalties, and an uncertain tax position.

Charities Working with Non-Charities
A panel of regulators discussed the various considerations an organization must take into account when deciding to partner with a non-charity. On the federal level, such considerations include the 501(c)(3)’s purpose, unrelated business taxable income, private benefit, jeopardizing investments, and self-dealing. On the state level, the considerations become much broader. An organization must consider, among other things, the various duties (loyalty, obedience, care, and accounting), the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (“UPMIFA”, enacted in all states except PA), registration and reporting requirements, charitable solicitation laws, donor expectations, and charitable purpose. One of the panelists, Assistant Attorney General for Washington Joshua Studor, pointed to the 2019 American Law Institute’s Restatement of Charitable Nonprofit Organizations Law as a great resource for many of these state considerations.

Fundraising Events – Virtual, In-Person, and Hybrid
Sara Hall, Chief Legal Officer for St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, spoke on the uncertainty of fundraising events. She noted an increasing expectation for returning to in-person events. As a lesson learned, Sara addressed the hybrid event. Ms. Hall noted the heightened challenges of hybrid events (both virtual and in-person). The logistical issues with both types are compounded when thrown together.

Ms. Hall also noted that, in the area of event contracting, force majeure clauses have become less reliable. Vendors are specifically excluding COVID and no longer excusing non-performance. It is important to negotiate at time of booking with catering that cancellation penalties will be credited towards future bookings and that you have a date to confirm your numbers before food is purchased.

Cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and Beyond
Ms. Hall also spoke to the burgeoning areas of cryptocurrency and NFT donations. Currently, cryptocurrencies are considered property for tax purposes. If a charitable organization wishes to accept cryptocurrencies, it is important that they set clear policies and controls for doing so. These include: establishing gift acceptance policies and safeguards that are consistent with the organization’s finance and audit procedures, custodian agreements for individuals with account access, and monthly reporting and auditing of their crypto wallet. It is also important that charities work with vendors and exchanges that are regulated by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) or the New York Department of Financial Services (“NYDFS”) if you are a New York entity. For more information on how charities should handle cryptocurrencies, please see What Nonprofits Should Be Asking About Virtual Currency Regulation and Fundraising by my colleague Jeremy Coffey.

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who we work with

Our clients are diverse nonprofit organizations with a broad range of missions, as well as for-profit companies in evolving areas such as social enterprise, corporate philanthropy, joint ventures, technology-driven fundraising, and impact investing.

A.B. Data
AB InBev Foundation
Absolut Company
American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science
American Diabetes Association
American Friends of the Hebrew University
American Parkinson Disease Association
Association of Fundraising Professionals
Avalon Consulting
Baton Rouge Area Foundation
Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation
Bleeding Blue for Good Fund
Bradley Cooper’s One Family Foundation
BrightFocus Foundation
Brooks Brothers
Chadwick Boseman Foundation for the Arts
Changing Our World
Charity Defense Council
Christian Appalachian Project
Doctors of the World/ Medecins du Monde
Doctors Without Borders/ Medecins San Frontieres
Drug Policy Alliance
Duke University
Emory University
Estee Lauder Companies, Inc.
Feed The Children
Food For The Poor
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation
Grameen Foundation USA
Hope for New York
International Campaign for Tibet
International Crisis Group
International Justice Mission
J. Crew Group
Johns Hopkins University
Lautman Maska Neill & Company
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
LSU Foundation

Marts & Lundy
Meyer Partners, LLC
Milken Institute
NAACP Foundation
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
National Marrow Donor Program
National Park Foundation
Natural Resources Defense Council
North Carolina State University
North Shore Animal League
Operation Smile
PBS Foundation
Pernod Ricard USA
PetSmart Charities
PopSockets
Population Action International
Project ORBIS International
Public Interest Communication
Rails to Trails
Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
Save the Children Federation
Sesame Workshop
Simon Wiesenthal
SOS Children’s Villages – USA
Subaru of America
The Little Market
Touro University
United States Equestrian Team Foundation
United Way Worldwide
University of Connecticut
University of Virginia
Vote.org
Whitney Museum of American Art
World ORT
World Wildlife Fund
YWCA USA

A.B. Data
Absolut Company
American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science
American Diabetes Association
American Friends of the Hebrew University
American Parkinson Disease Association
American Rivers
Association of Fundraising Professionals
Baton Rouge Area Foundation
BrightFocus Foundation
Burger King McLamore Foundation
Cancer Care
Carnegie East House and James Lenox House Association
Center for Car Donations
Changing Our World
Charity Defense Council
Christian Appalachian Project
Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation
Convoy of Hope
Cornell University
Doctors Without Borders/ Medecins San Frontieres
Drug Policy Alliance
Duke University
Emory University
Feed The Children
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation
Grameen Foundation USA
Helen Keller Services
Hope for New York
Human Rights Watch
Humane Society of US
Indiegogo
International Campaign for Tibet
International Crisis Group
International Justice Mission
Japanese American National Museum
Johns Hopkins University
Lane Bryant Charities
Lautman Maska Neill & Company
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
LSU Foundation
Mattel
Meyer Partners, LLC
Milken Institute
National Breast Cancer Coalition
National Marrow Donor Program
Natural Resources Defense Council
North Carolina State University
North Shore Animal League
Obama Foundation
Operation Smile
PBS Foundation
Pernod Ricard USA
PetSmart Charities
Population Action International
Project ORBIS International
Public Interest Communication
Rails to Trails
Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
Sesame Workshop
Simon Wiesenthal
SOS Children’s Villages – USA
Steinhardt Foundation
Subaru of America
United States Equestrian Team Foundation
University of Montana Foundation
University of Nevada, Las Vegas Foundation
Whitney Museum of American Art
World ORT
World Wildlife Fund
YMCA USA
YWCA of New York City
YWCA USA

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news & events

Our attorneys’ recent contributions to the media and nonprofit sector publications.

news & events

Check out our attorneys’ recent contributions to the media and industry publications.

Secure Your Data – Seriously, AFP New York Chapter News
As Jon Dartley, a data privacy and security attorney at Perlman and Perlman says, “It is vital to have the appropriate legal terms in the contract to protect your interests.”  Find out what your liability limit is.  Have it in writing who bears the responsibility and cost of a data breach.  And, have the vendor agree on a specific timeframe within which they need to advise you of a data breach.

Warning: Don’t Cut Legal Corners When Mixing Social And Business Impact,  Forbes
Particularly striking is that (Karen) Wu believes this is the “first multi-state regulatory activity involving cause marketing in almost two decades.”

Going green: Law firms see business benefits of B Corp certification
Allen Bromberger and Karen Wu on why Perlman & Perlman is a certified B Corp.

Is stealing, then giving back, OK?
Cliff Perlman lends his advice on theft within a nonprofit.

Buyer Beware: Negotiating Terms in Technology Agreements
Jon Dartley provides tips on negotiating contracts with technology vendors.

Four Ways Charitable Giving Could Change with a Tax Overhaul
Cliff Perlman remarks on the possible threat of a change to charitable deduction.

How To Deal With Residual Data, Nonprofit Times
Jon Dartley’s advice on addressing “data exhaust”.

Paul Newman’s Foundation Fights Looming 200 Percent Tax, Bloomberg News
Allen Bromberger weighs in our socially responsible businesses.

Secure Your Data – Seriously, AFP New York Chapter News
As Jon Dartley, a data privacy and security attorney at Perlman and Perlman says, “It is vital to have the appropriate legal terms in the contract to protect your interests.”  Find out what your liability limit is.  Have it in writing who bears the responsibility and cost of a data breach.  And, have the vendor agree on a specific timeframe within which they need to advise you of a data breach.

Warning: Don’t Cut Legal Corners When Mixing Social And Business Impact,  Forbes
Particularly striking is that (Karen) Wu believes this is the “first multi-state regulatory activity involving cause marketing in almost two decades.”

Going green: Law firms see business benefits of B Corp certification
Allen Bromberger and Karen Wu on why Perlman & Perlman is a certified B Corp.

Is stealing, then giving back, OK?
Cliff Perlman lends his advice on theft within a nonprofit.

Buyer Beware: Negotiating Terms in Technology Agreements
Jon Dartley provides tips on negotiating contracts with technology vendors.

Four Ways Charitable Giving Could Change with a Tax Overhaul
Cliff Perlman remarks on the possible threat of a change to charitable deduction.

How To Deal With Residual Data, Nonprofit Times
Jon Dartley’s advice on addressing “data exhaust”.

Paul Newman’s Foundation Fights Looming 200 Percent Tax, Bloomberg News
Allen Bromberger weighs in our socially responsible businesses.

perlman & perlman philanthropic sector law firm blue and green logo

click to exit page

perlman & perlman philanthropic sector law firm blue and green logo

click to exit page

silk lanterns

who we work with

Our clients are diverse nonprofit organizations with a broad range of missions, as well as for-profit companies in evolving areas such as social enterprise, corporate philanthropy, joint ventures, technology-driven fundraising, and impact investing.

who we work with

Our clients are diverse nonprofit organizations with a broad range of missions, as well as for-profit companies in evolving areas such as social enterprise, corporate philanthropy, joint ventures, technology-driven fundraising, and impact investing.

A.B. Data
AB InBev Foundation
Absolut Company
American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science
American Diabetes Association
American Friends of the Hebrew University
American Parkinson Disease Association
Association of Fundraising Professionals
Avalon Consulting
Baton Rouge Area Foundation
Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation
Bleeding Blue for Good Fund
Bradley Cooper’s One Family Foundation
BrightFocus Foundation
Brooks Brothers
Chadwick Boseman Foundation for the Arts
Changing Our World
Charity Defense Council
Christian Appalachian Project
Doctors of the World/ Medecins du Monde
Doctors Without Borders/ Medecins San Frontieres
Drug Policy Alliance
Duke University
Emory University
Estee Lauder Companies, Inc.
Feed The Children
Food For The Poor
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation
Grameen Foundation USA
Hope for New York
International Campaign for Tibet
International Crisis Group
International Justice Mission
J. Crew Group
Johns Hopkins University
Lautman Maska Neill & Company
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
LSU Foundation

Marts & Lundy
Meyer Partners, LLC
Milken Institute
NAACP Foundation
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
National Marrow Donor Program
National Park Foundation
Natural Resources Defense Council
North Carolina State University
North Shore Animal League
Operation Smile
PBS Foundation
Pernod Ricard USA
PetSmart Charities
PopSockets
Population Action International
Project ORBIS International
Public Interest Communication
Rails to Trails
Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
Save the Children Federation
Sesame Workshop
Simon Wiesenthal
SOS Children’s Villages – USA
Subaru of America
The Little Market
Touro University
United States Equestrian Team Foundation
United Way Worldwide
University of Connecticut
University of Virginia
Vote.org
Whitney Museum of American Art
World ORT
World Wildlife Fund
YWCA USA

A.B. Data
Absolut Company
American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science
American Diabetes Association
American Friends of the Hebrew University
American Parkinson Disease Association
American Rivers
Association of Fundraising Professionals
Baton Rouge Area Foundation
BrightFocus Foundation
Burger King McLamore Foundation
Cancer Care
Carnegie East House and James Lenox House Association
Center for Car Donations
Changing Our World
Charity Defense Council
Christian Appalachian Project
Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation
Convoy of Hope
Cornell University
Doctors Without Borders/ Medecins San Frontieres
Drug Policy Alliance
Duke University
Emory University
Feed The Children
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation
Grameen Foundation USA
Helen Keller Services
Hope for New York
Human Rights Watch
Humane Society of US
Indiegogo
International Campaign for Tibet
International Crisis Group
International Justice Mission
Japanese American National Museum
Johns Hopkins University
Lane Bryant Charities
LSU Foundation
Mattel
Meyer Partners, LLC
Milken Institute
National Breast Cancer Coalition
National Marrow Donor Program
Natural Resources Defense Council
North Carolina State University
North Shore Animal League
Obama Foundation
Operation Smile
PBS Foundation
Pernod Ricard USA
PetSmart Charities
Population Action International
Project ORBIS International
Public Interest Communication
Rails to Trails
Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
Sesame Workshop
Simon Wiesenthal
SOS Children’s Villages – USA
Steinhardt Foundation
Subaru of America
United States Equestrian Team Foundation
University of Montana Foundation
University of Nevada, Las Vegas Foundation
Whitney Museum of American Art
World ORT
World Wildlife Fund
YMCA USA
YWCA of New York City
YWCA USA
Lautman Maska Neill & Company
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

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Vision

We view our clients as partners that share our commitment to bring about change in the world. Our goal is to provide them the peace of mind of knowing that they are in compliance with their legal obligations and to further empower them to achieve positive social impact and financial success.

Our Mission

Our mission is to provide the highest quality, integrity-driven legal services to our clients, using a practical, consultative, client-focused approach to identify and respond to problems and challenges.

We strive to maintain a culture characterized by respect, opportunity, diligence, mutual empowerment, entrepreneurship, and fair reward for efforts made on behalf of clients and the firm.

Perlman & Perlman is a Certified B Corporation

Certified B Corporations use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. B Corps are unlike traditional businesses because they

  • Meet comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards
  • Meet higher legal accountability standards
  • Build business constituency for good business