Nonprofit Operations

Last updated July 28, 2020

 

State Policies Affecting Nonprofit Operations

Regulation of nonprofits

  • Support legislation to create simple, no-fee annual reports for nonprofits.
  • Support adequate funding for regulation of nonprofits by the NC Secretary of State.
  • Support policies creating official or unofficial state agency liaisons with nonprofits.
  • Oppose “mandatory volunteerism” requirements for recipients of government services, since these can create financial and administrative burdens for nonprofits.
  • Support clarifications and modernizations of nonprofit corporation and charitable solicitation laws that enable nonprofit organizations to operate efficiently, effectively, and in a manner consistent with best practices for the nonprofit sector.

 

Laws affecting nonprofits as employers

 

Nonprofit funding and fundraising

Nonprofit fundraising events: Lawmakers should ensure that any rule changes for nonprofit fundraising events, such as charitable gaming, are clear and consistent with best practices for nonprofits.

  • What happened so far in 2020:
    • Legislators approved minor changes to state bingo laws (H.B. 1064) to make them easier for nonprofits to understand. The Center supported this legislation.
  • What comes next:
    • If nonprofits identify other needs for expansion or clarification of state laws governing nonprofit fundraising events, the Center will continue to bring these ideas to legislators for consideration.
  • The Center’s role:
    • At the request of legislative staff, the Center reviewed the bill to ensure that it did not include any unintended negative consequences for nonprofits that offer bingo games as fundraising events.

 

Election laws

Because nonprofits serve many people who are less likely to turn out to vote – including people with disabilities, low-income citizens, and young people – it is important for nonprofits to share clear and accurate (and nonpartisan!) information about the state’s ever-changing electoral process. As demand for voting by mail has significantly increased this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for North Carolinians to be able to vote safely and easily by mail.

  • What happened so far in 2020:
    • Legislators approved a bill (H.B. 1169) that makes several changes to North Carolina’s absentee voting process to make it easier for North Carolinians to vote by mail in 2020. These changes include:
    1. Allowing North Carolinians to request absentee ballots online rather than only by mail;
    2. Simplifying the requirements to request an absentee ballot this year by only requiring one witness (current law requires most North Carolinians to have either two witnesses or a notary attest to their signature when submitting an absentee ballot request);
    3. Providing state matching funds to ensure that North Carolina has access to federal election funding; and
    4. Requiring the NC State Board of Elections to investigate any internet protocol or virtual private network from which more than 10 absentee ballots are requested. This requirement could lead to the investigation of some nonprofits that provide computer access to clients or residents.

Prior to the enactment of these changes, North Carolina’s absentee ballot requirements, which were stricter than most other states, made it challenging for many North Carolinians – particularly homebound seniors and individuals with disabilities – to request absentee ballots. The Center supported the bill since these changes would help many North Carolinians who receive nonprofits’ services vote by mail this fall if COVID-19 remains a problem.

  • What comes next:
    • Legislators could continue to make changes to the voting processes in North Carolina. They could make further changes to early voting periods, voter ID requirements, and absentee ballot processes. It will be important for nonprofits to continue to provide input on the impact of any potential election law changes on the people they serve.​
  • Nonprofits’ role:
    • A variety of nonprofits – including voting rights advocates, and nonprofit service providers working with seniors, individuals with disabilities, and low-income North Carolinians – advocated for legislators to ease access to mail-in voting for the 2020 election. While the consensus bill that was passed does not go as far as some nonprofits would prefer (e.g. it does not allow for an entirely vote-by-mail election), nonprofits’ advocacy certainly improved the legislation and will help ensure that far more North Carolinians are able to vote in the 2020 general election. In the coming months, it will be important for nonprofits to provide clear and nonpartisan information to their staff, boards, volunteers, and the people they serve about the options for absentee voting and early voting/same-day registration this fall.

 

 

Federal Policies Affecting Nonprofit Operations

Charitable solicitation 

Strong and fair regulation of nonprofits and others who solicit funds on their behalf is essential to preserve the public’s trust in the nonprofit sector. Under current law, small nonprofits with less than $25,000 in annual contributions are exempt from annual charitable solicitation licensing (and the related expenses) if they do not compensate staff or contractors for fundraising.

  • What didn’t happen in 2020:
    • The Senate did not vote on a bill (H.B. 732) that would have raised the threshold for exemption to $50,000 to be consistent with the filing threshold for the simple Form 990-N annual report with the Internal Revenue Service. The Center strongly supports this proposal, which passed the House unanimously in 2019.
  • What comes next:
    • The Center will work with legislators to have this bill re-introduced next year.
  • The Center’s role:
    • The Center worked with the NC Bar Association to develop the language for this bill. We recruited bill sponsors in both the NC Senate and NC House of Representatives and worked with legislative leadership to get the House to pass the bill unanimously.

 

Laws affecting nonprofits as employers

  • Support policies that enable nonprofits to provide affordable and quality benefits for their employees.
  • Oppose policies – such as elimination of student loan forgiveness programs – that would harm nonprofit employees.

 

Nonprofit independence and advocacy

  • Oppose new restrictions on nonprofit advocacy rights.
  • Support policies that would limit the influence of political donors on policymaking. This would help level the playing field for advocacy by nonpartisan nonprofits.

 

 

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