- Understand your legal obligations and responsibilities as an organization leader to ensure compliance.
- Maintain accurate documentation and records of all transactions and financial activities, such as donations and expenses.
- Regularly conduct audits or reviews of your organization for greater legal credibility.
- Create policies and procedures for everyone in the organization to follow to reduce risks of legal issues.
- Seek assistance from experienced professionals, such as a lawyer or charity auditor, if needed.
Non-profit organizations play an essential role in society. In the United States alone, about 1.8 million non-profit organizations exist, ranging from small charities to large national names. And while these organizations do not exist to make a profit, they still must maintain credibility and legal compliance.
Fortunately, there are several ways for these organizations to preserve their legal credibility. Here are a few of the essential steps that non-profits should take to remain compliant:
Understand Your Legal Obligations and Responsibilities
The first step in preserving legal credibility is understanding your legal obligations and responsibilities as an organization leader. You must be aware of all the laws and regulations that apply to your particular organization to ensure compliance. Additionally, staying up-to-date on new rules and regulations that may impact your organization is essential. You can do so by doing any of the following:
Visiting relevant government websites
Your first stop should be the website of your state’s non-profit division. Here, you can find information regarding any filing requirements and other regulations that may apply to your organization.
You should also stay informed by attending relevant conferences and workshops on the legal compliance of non-profits. This is a great way to learn more about your organization’s legal obligations and how to stay compliant.
Joining online discussion forums
It’s also beneficial to connect with other non-profit professionals and learn from their experiences. Online discussion forums are a great way to stay informed on any changes in the legal landscape.
Maintain Proper Documentation and Records
To ensure that your organization is compliant with all relevant laws and regulations, it is important to have accurate documentation and records. This includes keeping up with filing deadlines and other required forms, such as the IRS Form 990. It is a tax document that must be filed annually by tax-exempt organizations.
Additionally, you must maintain records of all transactions and financial activities, like donations and expenses. This will help to demonstrate the credibility of your organization in the event of an audit.
Keep Up With Audits and Reviews
When it comes to credibility, audits and reviews are essential. While it is not required for all non-profits, it is vital to consider having one performed to ensure that your organization follows all laws and standards. There are many ways to have an audit or review conducted; some of them include the following:
Internal Auditing Team
You can create an internal auditing team to evaluate your organization’s financial records and ensure compliance. This is a great way to ensure that all financial activities are accurately reported and that all laws and regulations are followed.
External Third-Party Auditors
You can also choose to have an experienced charity auditor from an external third-party firm review your records. This is an effective way to guarantee that all regulations are being adhered to and that no discrepancies exist.
Qualified Lawyer or Legal Professional
Having a qualified lawyer or legal professional on staff is invaluable for maintaining legal credibility within an organization. They can advise you on potential risks and suggest ways to reduce them. Additionally, they can help draft contracts, review documents for compliance with applicable laws, and help with any other legal matters that may arise.
Create Policies and Procedures
Creating policies and procedures for your organization is another way to protect its legal credibility. By having clearly stated policies in place, everyone within the organization will better understand what’s expected from them in terms of conduct and behavior. This also helps minimize the risk of potential legal issues arising due to misunderstandings or miscommunications among team members.
If you’re unsure of where to start when it comes to legal compliance, there are several resources available. Organizations like the IRS and the National Council of Non-profits provide guidance on best practices and legal requirements for non-profits. Either way, taking the necessary steps to ensure your organization’s legal credibility is essential for its long-term success.
Having a legally credible organization is essential for long-term success. That’s why non-profit organization leaders must protect their organizations from potential legal issues. The steps above will help ensure that your organization maintains its legal credibility over time.