If someone called your agency today and requested the organization’s Form 990s for the past three years, would someone be able to help them right away? What would happen if someone walked through the door and asked to see a copy of the organization’s determination letter or 1023 or 1024 form (the original application for tax exempt status)? Would they be helped or would they be turned away by someone who had no idea what the person was talking about? Nonprofit organizations are legally required to make these three documents available for public inspection upon request to anyone who requests them in person and available by mail within 30 days if requested by other means. Failure to do this could result in fines imposed by the Internal Revenue Service. According to the Standards for Excellence® code, “Nonprofits should have at least one staff member who is responsible for assuring that the organization is complying with both the letter and the spirit of federal and state laws that require disclosure of information to members of the public.” Following the simple guidance found in the Code, could save your organization unnecessary penalties and preserve the culture of openness in your nonprofit.
Did you know? The Standards for Excellence® Educational Resource Packet, “Openness,” includes a detailed discussion on federal regulations that apply to any nonprofit. The packet is free and available to Standards for Excellence Institute® members. It is available through the members only section of our website. Hard copies are also available upon request.