Legal and Financial Compliance Crucial to Charitable Organizational Health

OpEd by Marnie Taylor, President and CEO

We always say at the Center for Nonprofits that our programs help keep three people out of your office – the Attorney General, the IRS and Anderson Cooper. We aren’t kidding. Legal and financial troubles often land nonprofits on the front page of the paper, and the memories of those troubles continue in the minds of the public long after the last piece of dust settles

Tax-exempt organizations must follow a number of strict guidelines set up by the IRS, particularly public charities and private foundations. These rules and regulations govern their operations, insist on mission-driven programs that directly impact the public and their capacity to raise and spend funds for their charitable purposes.

However, nonprofits are not just a tax status – they are businesses.  They operate in most of the exact same regulatory environments as for-profit corporations and small businesses. They must follow laws about employment, zoning, financial reporting and more. In addition, there are particular accounting standards that protect donors of and those who contract with nonprofits, ensuring those organizations operate with the highest levels of ethics and transparency.

Our sector has a responsibility to the public to do everything we can to steward our gifts from the public and private sectors, make an impact in our respective communities and create the change as put forth in our missions. This transparency is one of our duties, along with care, loyalty and obedience.

The Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits takes this work very seriously. Legal and financial training for nonprofit organizations is part of our backbone of professional and organizational development that we offer. Our Standards for Excellence program highlights the importance of operating in a legal and ethical manner. To date, more than 800 organizations have taken this coursework, and soon, we will be accrediting our first organizations in Oklahoma ensuring they meet these standards.

These important benchmarks will be on full display at our Law and Finance Conference sponsored, in part, by Hogan Taylor and presented in partnership with the Oklahoma City University School of Law on March 14 and 15. There, more than 175 participants will learn detailed information about the complex and intricate legal and financial requirements faced by charitable nonprofits and private foundations.

We present this training because we know how valuable it is to our sector, to our donors and to our policymakers. Most importantly, it is so that the public and the people nonprofits serve can rest assured that Oklahoma’s charitable sector functions with the highest levels of integrity and compliance.

Our sector is stronger and better thanks to this constant pursuit of doing all the good we can in the best and most effective ways we can.

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Marnie Taylor