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Fall 2022 Course

Non-profit Organizations and Law

Prerequisite: None

Exam Type: No Exam

Nonprofit organizations include large health care, educational, religious, arts, and political entities as well as small community services and advocacy efforts.  Their vitality supports not only the people they directly serve but also the civil society that incubates new ideas, builds social capital, and strengthens democracy.  Distinctive laws and traditions in the United States contribute to the dramatic growth of the nonprofit sector in size and influence.  Also mounting is controversy over whether the benefits provided by nonprofit organizations justify their special statutory, regulatory, and tax treatment.  This seminar will examine the historical and legal contexts for these debates and address: what justifies the rules governing nonprofit organizations? When should they be governed like private entities, when like public entities, and when like something different altogether? When and why are they exempted from taxation? To whom are they accountable? What cultural and legal changes should be promoted to address risks of self-dealing by nonprofit boards and staff; political debates over the benefits accorded to the sector, and related issues.  Our focus on domestic nonprofits will include comparison with laws and practices of international nongovernment organizations.