Emerging Legal Questions in Today’s Boardroom – BLF 2011

Last week, I had the honor and pleasure of presenting a session on Emerging Legal Questions in Today’s Boardroom at the BoardSource Leadership Forum, a national conference focused on nonprofit governance. This session addressed some of the trending legal issues for nonprofits in the areas of technology and social media, transparency, earned income and social enterprise, and nonprofit advocacy. In particular, we discussed:


  • Considerations regarding social media policies and procedures
  • State registration requirements for Internet charitable solicitations
  • Risks and tips when using e-mail to vote on board actions

Additional resources

Social Media Policy Resources for Nonprofits (Nonprofit Law Blog)
When Marketing Through Social Media, Legal Risks Can Go Viral (Venable LLP)
A Survey of Social Media Issues Before the NLRB and NLRB Social Media Report
– Charitable solicitation registration: National Association of State Charity Officials Charleston Principles (NASCO) and The Unified Registration Statement Multistate Filer Project
Can Nonprofit Boards Vote by E-mail? (Blue Avocado)


  • Improved practices for reviewing the Form 990
  • Governance policies highlighted by the Form 990
  • Best practices for approving executive compensation

Additional resources  

IRS Automatic Revocation of Exemption List
Form 990 Policies – Is it better to check “yes” or “no”? (Nonprofit Law Blog)
Executive Compensation (Nonprofit Law Blog)


  • Determining income tax implications of business activity 
  • Legal form and business considerations for undertaking business activity
  • Introduction to new hybrid legal structures

Additional resources

Tax on Unrelated Business Income of Exempt Organizations (IRS Pub. 598)
The Profitable Side of Nonprofits (Nonprofit Law Blog)
Nonprofit Radio: Earned Income & UBIT (Nonprofit Law Blog)
– Hybrid legal structures: Americans for Community Development (L3C info), B Lab (Benefit Corporation info), and the Business for Good blog (California Flexible Purpose Corporation and other social enterprise info) 


  • Lobbying definition and 501(c)(3) limitations
  • Electioneering definition and 501(c)(3) limitations
  • First Amendment rights and recommended practices for organizations
  • Key principles and practices when setting-up affiliated structures

Additional Resources

Rules of the Game, 2nd edition (Alliance for Justice)
Influencing Public Policy in the Digital Age (Alliance for Justice)
Affiliated 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) Organizations (Nonprofit Law Blog)

Special thanks to BoardSource, Barb Knoff of The Millennium 3 Company, and everyone who attended the Emerging Legal Questions in Today’s Boardroom session!

More information is available in the session handout (download here) and presentation slides (download here).