Dana Brakman Reiser – Charity Law’s Essentials

Brooklyn Law School Professor Dana Brakman Reiser posted her working paper on the essential characteristics of charity law on SSRN. The article is entitled Charity Law’s Essentials.

Related to nonprofit organizations, the BLS Library recently added to its collection Starting and Managing a Nonprofit Organization: a Legal Guide by Bruce R. Hopkins (Call #KF1388 .H66 2009). The chapters of this book are: What is a nonprofit organization — Starting a nonprofit organization — Debunking some myths and misperceptions — Nonprofit organizations : much more than charity — Nonprofits and private benefit — From nonprofit to tax-exempt — Charities : public or private? — Governance : board duties and liabilities — Braving annual reporting — Tax exemption : not a paperwork exemption — Charitable giving rules — Government regulation of fundraising — Related or unrelated? — Lobbying constraints – and taxes — Political campaign activities – and more taxes — Donor-advised funds, tax-shelters, insurance schemes – and still more taxes — Subsidiaries : for-profit and nonprofit — Joint venturing and other partnering — Wonderful world of planned giving — Putting ideas into action — Watchdogs on the prowl — Potpourri of policies and procedures — Commerciality, competition, commensurateness — IRS audits of nonprofit organizations — Avoiding personal liability

Here is the abstract of Prof Reiser’s article Charity Law’s Essentials:

The boundary between charity and business has become a moving target. Social enterprises, philanthropy divisions of for-profit companies (most notably at Google), and legislation creating hybrid nonprofit/for-profit forms all use business models and practices to mold and pursue charitable objectives. This article asserts that charity law must be streamlined in order to respond to these and other dramatic charitable innovations. My new vision of charity law centers around two essential requirements. First, charity law must continue to demand that charities maintain an other-regarding orientation, pursuing benefits for someone other than their own leaders and managers. Second, existing charity law must be revised and supplemented to mandate that charities utilize group governance. Additionally, this dual focus should be intensified by removing the limits on commercial and political activity that currently clutter charity law. These reforms will enhance charity law’s ability to regulate traditional charities. Moreover, focusing charity law on its essentials will reveal the tools necessary to respond to the exciting developments blurring the boundary between charity and business.