Liability and Ethical Considerations of Board Members and Counsel in Fundraising

83826983-2Planned Giving Council of Houston, 2017 Annual Conference, Houston, Texas, 04/27/2017

Serving as an officer or director of a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, or serving as a trustee of a charitable trust, involves acting in a fiduciary capacity.  Likewise, when counsel is representing the organization, he or she does so in a fiduciary capacity.  While fiduciary duties are often considered in the context of governance generally, this presentation considers how the fiduciary duties play out in the context of fundraising along with ethical considerations—those considerations which may not implicate a fiduciary obligation but nevertheless should be understood for ethical practice.  The presentation provides an overview of legal duties of decision makers of Texas nonprofit corporations with a specific focus on fundraising, gift acceptance, and ancillary issues.  Additional information may be found in the related reference outline, Governance of Nonprofits.

Trustee Liability & Whistleblowing

144283240(1)2016 Salk Institute Breakthrough Biomedical Philanthropy Seminar, La Jolla, California

It is always exciting to take part in the Salk Institute’s annual two-day summit, which couples the worlds of philanthropy and science through featured presentations and panel discussions.  The topic I presented was Trustee Liability and Whistleblowing, specifically focusing on state and federal standards of conduct applicable to directors and trustees of private foundations.  This paper further underscores best practices for these decision makers, highlighting tools to limit liability and emphasizing the importance of diligence in carrying out duties and responsibilities.

Texas Tech Estate Planning & Community Property Law Journal CLE and Expo

121198591On Friday, March 4, 2016 I had the pleasure of speaking at the Texas Tech Estate Planning & Community Property Law Journal CLE and Expo in Lubbock, Texas.  This is a fantastic event created by Professor Gerry Beyer at Texas Tech School of Law and hosted/put on by students of the law school who are involved with the Estate Planning Journal.  They do a first-rate job with all aspects of the conference.

I was first up on Friday morning to speak on the topic “Care and Feeding of Private Foundations and Public Charities.”  Because my practice is primarily charity facing (as opposed to doing planning for the donor), it is always interesting to speak to estate planners.  I am always trying to find a way to make what I am talking about relevant to that community.  For this conference, I began by explaining that there seems to be a commonality among all people wanting to help their fellow man, though the breadth and scope of that help is certainly different depending on the person.  This is particularly true in America, as we see individuals helping their neighbor, grassroots efforts to provide help for a community, and even larger philanthropy.  In fact, this is not new to the current generation.  In his extensively researched book, America’s Nonprofit Sector: A Primer, 3rd Edition, Lester M. Salamon cites to a visit Alexis de Tocqueville made to America in 1835 when writing about democracy.  De Tocqueville wrote that “wherever at the head of some undertaking you see the government in France, or a man of rank in England, in the United States, you will be sure to find an association.”  This remains true today, and whether it is very wealthy donors influenced by family philanthropy or The Giving Pledge or folks who are not independently wealthy who simply want to make a difference in their neighborhood, school, community, or world, lawyers and other professional advisers are uniquely positioned to come alongside to help those helping others.  However, to most effectively do that, all of us (especially estate planners) have to understand the basic concept of the independent sector.  This presentation is intended to provide those basic contours.  The paper can be accessed here and the PowerPoint slides can be accessed here.