A SOURCE for Tools, Advice, and Training to control risks… so you can Focus on your Nonprofit's mission.

May 2, 2012

Today at 2 pm: Risk and Reward: Protecting Your Tax Exempt Status

Join a popular member of the Center’s webinar faculty for today’s informative webinar exploring strategies for protecting your nonprofit’s tax exempt status. Critical topics that will be covered by guest presenter George Constantine include: the importance of key governance policies, making sure that your nonprofit generates the “right” kind of revenue, managing joint ventures and other revenue-generating programs to minimize exemption and UBIT risks, and steering clear of “deal breakers,” including private inurement and political activities. Stop worrying about threats to your nonprofit’s tax exempt status; register today!

What do rock stars and risk management professionals have in common?

They hang out at the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown Chicago!

The Nonprofit Risk Management Center is pleased to announce that the location of the 2012 Risk Management & Finance SUMMIT for Nonprofits will be the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago near the famous Magnificent Mile. Join us August 26-28 for informative risk management sessions, inspiring keynotes and a vendor expo that will allow you to keep your organization from getting stuck, “between a rock and a hard place.”

The Hard Rock Hotel Chicago stretches 40 stories tall and features upscale accommodations and beautiful views of the city skyline. Situated on Michigan Avenue, the hotel is steps away from Millennium Park, the Theatre District and the best shopping, dining and attractions in the Windy City. The contemporary ambience of the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago blends seamlessly within the walls of the landmark Carbide & Carbon Building, a historic Burnham masterpiece fashioned from green terra cotta and black polished granite. The hotel is located on the corner of Michigan Avenue and East Wacker Place/South Water Street.

The hotel is offering discounted conference rates as low as $159 per night for SUMMIT attendees who reserve rooms before August 4, 2012. To book your hotel reservation in our limited block, please use the following link: Nonprofit Risk Management Hotel Reservations.

Would You Sign a Contract You Haven’t Read?

By Melanie Lockwood Herman

Few days pass when I’m not asked to sign a contract. Whether it’s a form granting permission to record a workshop, or a “click through agreement” I must complete to sit in the exit row on an outbound flight, pages of contract language appear before this lawyer on a regular basis. On many occasions when I’m rushing to find the signature line, I stop to remind myself of something I once heard my mother tell an anesthesiologist: “My daughter would NEVER sign a contract she hasn’t read.”

The following is an abbreviated list of contract “do’s.” An expanded list—with accompanying contract “don’ts”—appears in our book, EXPOSED: A Legal Field Guide for Nonprofit Executives.

  • Do ask for clarification about ANY contract terms you find confusing, inapplicable, vague, or incomprehensible.
  • Do insist that inappropriate, irrelevant and nonsensical clauses be removed or fixed before you sign the contract.
  • Do make certain you have the authority to enter into a contract before binding your nonprofit.
  • Do use a contract every time you retain a consultant or contractor to provide services to your nonprofit. Make certain the independent contractor agreement specifies the contractor’s status, and ineligibility for insurance coverage or any benefits provided to employees.
  • Do read every contract presented to you for signature. Remember that the contract binds your nonprofit legally and the contract’s provisions may apply for a number of years, even after the work specified in the contract has been completed. Also remember that you could be held accountable in court for the promises made in the contract.
  • Do wait until contract negotiations have concluded and the ink on the contract (both parties’ signatures) has dried before authorizing work to begin on any project that the contract governs.
  • Do limit the risk of contracting policy violations by making sure that only those individuals who are authorized to enter into contracts on behalf of the nonprofit do so. Make clear who has authority to negotiate and execute contracts on the organization’s behalf and who does not.
  • Do include language in every contract that protects the nonprofit’s assets. For example, indicate who owns what in your contracts with vendors and independent contractors. If an independent contractor is preparing a report for your nonprofit, that report should be the nonprofit’s property.

On the subject of contracts, the terrific webinar, Risk-Aware Contracting: What You Don't Know Could Cost You, delivered by my colleague Eileen Morgan Johnson in April, remains available as a recorded program. The practical advice and helpful webinar handout are well worth the purchase price. If you have any doubts about what you “don’t know” about your nonprofit’s contracting practices, order this program!

Melanie Lockwood Herman is Executive Director of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center. She welcomes your ideas about any risk management topic, feedback on this article and questions about the Center’s resources at Melanie@nonprofitrisk.org or (202) 785-3891. The Center provides risk management tools and resources at www.nonprofitrisk.org and offers consulting assistance to organizations unwilling to leave their missions to chance.

NEW — Pre-Program Early Bird Registration Rate for the 2012 SUMMIT

For the first time, the Nonprofit Risk Management Center is pleased to offer an early pre-program registration rate for the Center's annual educational conference, “The Risk Management and Finance SUMMIT for Nonprofits.” The conference will be held in Chicago, IL during August 26-28, 2012. Attendees who register on or before the announcement of the SUMMIT program in late-May will enjoy a discounted registration price of $375, which reflects a $175 savings off the regular registration fee. Described as an “…awesome conference…from start to finish” by a first time attendee at last year’s event, the 2012 event is limited in capacity and is expected to sell out. This special pre-program pricing will expire when we unveil the conference schedule…To take advantage of this special discount, click here.


As a Center AFFILIATE your nonprofit’s members, chapters, councils and field or branch offices will enjoy access to an array of free and discounted risk resources, including complimentary viewing of this year’s First Wednesday Webinar series and unlimited technical assistance by telephone and email. Nonprofit AFFILIATES include national nonprofit federations, regional agencies, and local organizations. The nonprofit customers of for-profit AFFILIATES (brokers, background checking companies, specialty carriers, law firms, CPA firms, and management consulting firms) enjoy the same access to money-saving risk resources.

The cost to nonprofit AFFILIATES is $75 per month, and the cost to for-profit AFFILIATES is $100 per month. If only ONE of your staff, chapters, or members calls us each month or watches a single webinar, you’ll save money AND benefit in a tangible way from your membership in the only national nonprofit dedicated to helping nonprofit sector leaders become risk aware and resilient in our changing and uncertain world.

We hope you’ll visit the AFFILIATES Program webpage, peruse the list of benefits, and click to enroll. And don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions about the program or requests for new offerings or services. We look forward to serving you in the months and years ahead!



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