Last week we had the good fortune to have Regina Hopkins present a "Nonprofit Governance: Understanding the Responsibilities of Board and Staff" program at the Foundation Center, DC. Particularly interesting were several legal points that dealt with responsibilities specific to the board, those specific to staff, and those that are shared. Among other points, you may be interested to know a few points of DC nonprofit law:
- Board members cannot vote by proxy. Yes, you must vote if you're on the board- you can't delegate your responsibility to anyone else.
- Only the board can (and must) formally adopt conflict of interest and whistleblower policies.
- Board members cannot take advantage of business opportunities that would be of interest to the nonprofit without first offering it to the nonprofit.
- DC nonprofits must have two officers: one responsible for the management of the organization, and one responsible for its financial affairs. Even if you don't have a CFO, whoever performs those functions is considered that person for legal purposes.
There was a great deal more covered, and if you'd like a copy of the handout, shoot me an email- djo at foundation center dot org.
However, you also can (and most certainly should) take a look at the new DC Bar Pro Bono Progam Community and Economic Development Project webpage. There are some really great resources there on how to operate legally (and well) in the District of Columbia, and they cover the points listed above and much more.
Particularly excellent are the Legal Alerts, which bring together all of the DC Bar's many documents that detail the laws and regulations affecting nonprofits in the region. This sort of information- all in one place- is an incredible, free resource. Just as an example, there is an 8 page pdf that discusses DC, Maryland and Virginia Charitable Solicitation Requirements. If you're raising money in those states and you don't know what those are, you'll want to go read it right now. Also listed are webinars, an events calendar, and more.
Thanks again to Regina for the great class, and again, you can always check out more upcoming programs on our GrantSpace calendar.