Insider tips from a former regulator

Trying to satisfy everyone is usually a hopeless task, but nonprofit managers often find themselves having to keep various people, with different demands, as happy as possible.

Among those people who must be satisfied are regulators, at the federal, state or even local level. Sometimes one set of regulations can conflict with another, and even individuals can interpret things differently.

Speaking during the AICPA Not-For-Profit Financial Executive Forum, Pamela A. Mann, a partner in the firm of Carter Ledyard & Millburn LLP and a former regulator (in New York state), offered several tips for keeping on the right side of regulators.

  • Make sure your public filings and your actual operations and practices are telling the same story.
  • It is important to know the rules, but even more important to know that there are rules you might not know.
  • Approach challenging situations with a jaundiced eye. Being innocent with an explanation is not enough.
  • Judicious use of lawyers who represent nonprofits regularly is the best way to stay in compliance and out of trouble.
  • When planning a solicitation campaign, determine: In what state(s) is your organization soliciting; what are the registration requirements for those states; is the organization using an outside fundraiser, and is it possible to avoid using one?