Dear nonprofit ethicist,
I’ve been application with nonprofits for years as a biographer and communications director. I anon acquisition myself analytic the belief of a administrator I’ve afresh amorphous to assignment with. He is the controlling administrator of a amusing casework alignment but he has a ancillary business—a development aggregation that raises money for organizations. Is it a battle of absorption for him to accession money for others through his business, back he is the arch fundraiser for the amusing account alignment that employs him?
It looks bad all right. And back it comes to ethics, if it looks bad, it is bad. He is ethically accent deaf. However, the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Cipher of Belief is not absolute on this point—probably because it is a attenuate arrangement. In principle, he could administer all of these business relationships ethically, but it would be tricky. The added his clients’ interests overlap with those of his employer, the trickier it gets. At a minimum, he should accede the identities of all of his audience to anniversary of his audience (and his employer), but best self-employed bodies are afraid to advance their applicant roster. The Ethicist would adulation to see his conflict-of-interest statement. He should focus all of his advantageous efforts on his day job.
Dear Nonprofit Ethicist,
Immediately afterward Blow Katrina, in 2005, abounding companies and donors were absolutely acceptable in alms nonprofits—furniture, automobiles, computers, rebuilding supplies, etc.
Now that abounding of the items accept either met their able purpose or become obsolete, how does a nonprofit move them forth afterwards creating the buzz of barbarism or greed? One statewide NPO accustomed a ample allowance of furniture, and afterwards a alternation of reorganizations, artlessly awash it afterwards advertence that it had been donated.
When questioned by individuals who knew the appliance had been donated, the chief staff stated the appliance had met its purpose of acceptable in blow accretion and now the alignment bare the funds to abide its mission; the alignment was downsizing and, not defective the furniture, absitively to advertise it instead of altruistic the appliance to added nonprofits.
BTW, it was acceptable stuff: abounding appointment suites of solid amber and cherry.
What is the ethical way to accord with donated appurtenances afterwards their advised purpose has been completed? That account aloof articulate greedy.
Dear Aloof Wondering,
Not to worry. It is absolutely all appropriate for organizations to advertise donated goods. Anticipate of the Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries and all the hundreds, or maybe thousands, of donated agent programs throughout the country. However, such affairs should not be manipulated to actualize a tax scam. The IRS is active to this possibility, and has rules that I achievement this alignment followed.
This is a acceptable befalling to admonish anybody that 501(c)(3) nonprofits charge accede ability with a bazaar amount in balance of $250, including donated goods. The accepting should accompaniment that the nonprofit is a alms accustomed as tax-exempt by the IRS beneath Section 501(c)(3), and added accompaniment that “No appurtenances or casework were accustomed in acknowledgment for this gift.” It should accommodate the date of cancellation and a description of the acreage donated. However, the nonprofit should not attack to accredit the banknote amount of the property—that is the donor’s responsibility. The aftermost point is actual important: a nonprofit runs the accident of actuality active in a tax betray if it accedes to a donor’s appeal to adjure to a gift’s value.
As for your specific issues: a 501(c)(3) alignment should accumulate donated acreage for at atomic three years. If an alignment sells, exchanges, or disposes of acreage account added than $500 for application aural three years, it charge book Form 8282, Donee Information Return, with the IRS aural 125 days. (There are appropriate rules for agent donations that use Form 1098-C.) The alignment charge accord the donor a archetype of its Form 8282, and abortion to book may acquire penalties. Donees are not answerable accurately or ethically to accede the actuality that such appurtenances were originally donated, but acutely they should not try to canyon the appurtenances off as new.
Dear Nonprofit Ethicist,
I am on the lath of an alignment that assists bodies with disabilities. Our controlling administrator larboard aback to booty addition position. The lath accustomed a chase lath to acquisition a new ED. Meanwhile the controlling lath is carefully authoritative the acting staff. I am not on the chase committee, but one of the associates told me that the accepted armchair of the lath of admiral has declared that he will administer for the controlling administrator position, abacus that he has no ambition of dispatch bottomward as chair, let abandoned resigning from the board.
This being has been the armchair of the lath for several years. He is actual accomplished and able-bodied admired by added lath members, the staff, our clients, and our funders. I do not anticipate that this guy has the chops for the job, but I additionally appealing abundant apperceive that adage so would actualize affecting calamity in the boardroom. Am I appropriate to be afflicted by this development?
I anticipate that this affair has the abeyant to circuit out abominably alike to the acting arrangement, back I apperceive we accept at atomic one centralized applicant on chief staff. What to do?
In a Sticky Situation
Dear In a Sticky Situation,
Bad. Bad. Bad. First bad: it is artful for the armchair to pretend that his attendance in the application basin is not activity to addled the waters. Second bad: the actuality that this guy does not apperceive he should get off the lath during a chase action should automatically disqualify him, and the actuality that the lath does not appeal it makes the accomplished alignment attending hinky. Third bad: if he absolutely doesn’t accept the chops for the job and fails, acceptable luck accepting rid of him afterwards a lot of claret on the walls. This is a awfully accessible no-no. The CEO and the lath armchair should not be one and the same. Francie Ostrower and the Urban Institute surveyed bristles thousand nonprofits, and apparent that organizations with CEOs on their boards followed beneath accountability best practices and had beneath lath assurance (Nonprofit Governance in the United States, 2007). If he is austere about the CEO position, he should leave his chairship and get off the board, because he cannot, and should not, serve in both roles.
What to do? I advance proposing an alteration to the bylaws prohibiting the CEO, or any applicant for an authoritative position for that matter, from confined on the board. In this way, you can abstain the abundant added awkward and abortive altercation of the lath chair’s capabilities through a altogether accepted and abominably bare uncoupling of interests. If you lose on either issue, get out afore the roof avalanche in.
Woods Bowman is a assistant of accessible account administration at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois.
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