Times have been tough in recent years for nonprofits, with organizations struggling to find sufficient time and money to sustain their programs, but if you're running a New York-based charity, at least some of your worries may soon be alleviated.
According to news reports this week, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced his intention to ease some of the laws and regulations for the state's nonprofits in an effort to relieve overburdened organizations from having to devote large amounts of their resources to compliance costs. Schneiderman specifically cited an excess of audits for groups that receive funding from city or state government agencies as a major problem. Currently, organizations receiving funding from multiple agencies can be obligated to conduct multiple audits, and organizations with annual revenues over $250,000 are required to have annual audits. For a nonprofit with limited staff and a scarcity of available funds, having to conduct so many audits can be time-consuming and expensive, pulling resources away from crucial programs.
Schneiderman's plan is to form a working group, comprised of nonprofit, government, and labor representatives, to discuss this issue and formulate possible strategies for reforming the regulations. Overall, reactions from the nonprofit community have been extremely positive, though as plans for reform commence, there is a potential for backlash from those concerned that looser regulations could lead to a greater chance of nonprofit fraud.
After all, on a national level, numerous charities have found themselves embroiled in controversies over questionable activities lately – the recent woes plaguing Madonna's charity, Raising Malawi, specifically come to mind. In Congress, meanwhile, Senator Charles Grassley has been engaged in vigorous efforts to investigate fraudulent and controversial activities on the part of the nation's charities. Attorney General Schneiderman responded to fraud-related concerns by asserting, "We can be as tough or tougher on policing fraud without imposing unnecessary burdens…In hard economic times, we can't afford to force (charities) to spend 15 or 20 percent of their resources on compliance costs."
To read more about the Attorney General's plan to reform laws and regulations for New York charities, you can read this detailed article on the issue from Reuters, or have a look at this video from New York One. What do you think about the plan to loosen state regulations and reduce audits?
-- Tracy Kaufman, Library Assistant