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Public Benefit + Accountability
Nonprofits have a special ability to organize the energy and ideas of a community in order to achieve together what individuals cannot achieve alone. By tapping into the values, interests and relationships of individuals, nonprofits can mobilize their supporters and the larger community to realize their vision, while also building trust between communities and bridging relationships among diverse constituencies. Nonprofits are most effective when they are flexible and responsive to change, and actively engaging constituents as thought partners.
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MANP, Robert H. Levin
This MANP white paper, written by attorney Robert H. Levin, outlines the difference between casual usage of the word “member” and the legal definition, and provides information to help nonprofits determine if membership in the legal sense is appropriate for their organization(s).
Advisory councils, committees and boards can be a valuable way to gain a deeper understanding of stakeholder needs, and to expand capacity to accomplish targeted projects. Learn more about advisory boards, how they differ from boards of directors, questions to consider before starting an advisory group, and find a sample committee member invitation to help you get started.
Nonprofits incorporated in Maine are required to file an annual report with the Secretary of State's office. This web page provides more details, including forms and filing fees.
An annual report can be a valuable tool for communicating with stakeholders and showcasing outcomes. In recent years many nonprofits have been experimenting with alternatives to traditional printed annual reports. The following resources provide more information about the purpose of annual reports, sample annual reports, and tips for developing the most compelling resource for your organization.
- Nonprofit Annual Reports (National Council of Nonprofits)
- Annual Reports: Worth It? (Big Duck)
- How to Write a Nonprofit Annual Report - compilation of resources & samples (Nonprofit Marketing Guide)
- Nonprofit Annual Reports: How to Write Your Best One Yet (Firespring)
- Nonprofit Communications Trends Report (Nonprofit Marketing Guide) - some editions include data on annual report approaches
- Collection of Sample Maine Nonprofit Annual Reports (MANP, Crowdsourced)
- Sample National Annual Reports (Whole Whale)
Extensive toolkit on assessing community need and developing collaboration.
Did you lose your tax-exempt status? The IRS has these resources on why it happens and what to do to fix it.
Provides widely accepted accountability standards and an accompanying implementation guide, as well as reports resulting from donor inquiries.
A clear mission and vision is the foundation for any nonprofit's work. These resources define the difference between mission, vision and values statements and provide suggestions for developing clear guiding principles for your organization's work.
- Building A Strategic Framework, Mission Statement, Vision, Values
- 9 Characteristics of a Mission Statement (BoardSource)
- Mission Possible: How to Improve Your Organization's Mission Statement
- Developing Mission, Vision and Values Statements
- Mission and Vision Statements (The Bridgespan Group)
- Values Statements (National Council of Nonprofits)
- Why Organizational Values are So Awesome (Nonprofit AF)
If your nonprofit organization changes its address you'll need to notify both the Secretary of State's office (if you are incorporated in Maine) and the IRS.
There are both legal and communications steps to consider when changing your organizations name. The following resources offer information and advice.
- Name Changes – How to Do it Right (CharityLawyer)
- Changing the name of an exempt organization (IRS)
- Requesting an updated determination letter (IRS)
- Maine Bureau of Corporations - Find forms including Articles of Amendment and form to register a DBA
- Getting your new name right: ensuring a successful organizational renaming process (Big Duck)
- Recorded Webinar: Is it time to change your nonprofit's name? Case studies & roll out advice. (Big Duck)
Many nonprofits and foundations develop a statement of values and code of ethics to help guide their policies, decision making and operations. The process of developing values and a code of ethics can prompt rich conversation. The following resource provide a suggested process as well as samples from other organizations that can be used as a starting point.
This is a national organization that supports community associations including nonprofits like homeowners associations, road associations and condo associations. While these kinds of associations share many things in common with charitable nonprofits, this organization is able to provide resources more targeted to these types of associations. Resources and tools include governance guidelines, information on disaster preparedness and recovery, and a "reading room" with articles on topics such as insurance and risk management, governance, homeowner resources, maintenance, meetings and more.
National Council of Nonprofits
This resource provides several sample confidentiality policies for nonprofits to use as a starting point when developing their own policies to guide how employees, board members and volunteers interact with sensitive client information. The sample policies are not intended for verbatim use without careful review and MANP recommends seeking legal support on policy development whenever feasible.
This guide provides step-by-step instructions to implement a variety of youth input activities.
Article/Blog, Sample/Template, Video/Tutorial
A dashboard is a tool for visualizing data. Some dashboards show performance over time while others provide a snapshot of a particular aspect of a business. An effective dashboard illustrates rather than tells the audience about areas that need attention or action. There are diverse applications of and approaches to dashboards, and the following articles provide helpful tips and samples.
- Dashboards for Nonprofits (National Council of Nonprofits)
- A Nonprofit Dashboard and Signal Light for Boards (Blue Avocado)
- Beyond Dashboards: Business Intelligence Tools for Program Analysis and Reporting (Idealware)
- Show Me Your Dashboard (Beth Kanter)
- Models and Components of a Great Nonprofit Dashboard (NonprofitQuarterly)
- Dashboards Might Just Be Nonprofits New Best Friend (TechSoup)
- Free Recorded Webinar: How Dashboards Can Help Your Nonprofit Achieve Its Goals (Nonprofit Quarterly)
- Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit Dashboards (Whole Whale)
- Library of Potential Dashboard Indicators (CompassPoint)
- Minding the Gab with Dashboards (Social Impact Architects)
- Financial Health Analysis Tool (Wallace Foundation)
- Financial Dashboard Sample (Andy Robinson)
Some nonprofits must make the painful decision to close their doors. MANP provides the following resources and recommendations to help Maine nonprofits navigate the decision to dissolve and the dissolution process.
The following samples can help your organization craft its own document retention and destruction policy. They are not intended to be used strictly verbatim without careful review.
This one-page handy reference guide outlines the various documents to which your board needs to pay attention.
Periodic newsletter with information for tax-exempt organizations and tax practitioners - attorneys, accountants, and others - who represent them.
Comprehensive answers to frequently asked questions regarding tax exemption and everything related.
The Federal Register provides access to the official text of federal laws, presidential documents, and administrative regulations and notices.
Searchable database of government spending created by OMB Watch. Search by grants or contracts.
These resources provide an overview of the different versions of IRS Form 990 and how to complete this annual return (due the 15th day of the 5th month after the end of your fiscal year, which means May 15 or November 15 for most organizations).
- 411 on Form 990 (MANP Blog)
- IRS 990 Decoder Worksheet and Resource (Propel Nonprofits)
- How to Read IRS Form 990 (Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York)
- 990N E-Postcard Filling FAQs (IRS)
- Making the Most of Your 990: A Red Flag Guide for Nonprofits (NonprofitQuarterly)
- Stay Exempt: 990 Overview (IRS)
- Recorded Webinar: New Nonprofits Boot Camp - Legal & Tax Best Practices (MANP)
- Telling the Not-for-Profit Story Through Form 990 (Journal of Accountancy)
- Recorded Webinar: Is Your IRS Form 990 Telling the Right Story? And What Can You Do About It? (Nonprofit Quarterly)
- Recorded Webinar: Filing Error-Free Forms (IRS)
Maine Secretary of State
Information from the Maine Secretary of State's office about forming a corporation in Maine.
National database of nonprofit organizations with detailed organization information and IRS form 990. Post your nonprofit mission and achievements to increase your visibility. Make connections with other nonprofits.
For some nonprofits the painful decision to close the doors must at some point be made. MANP has created a page dedicated to the helping nonprofits navigate dissolution, as well as a white paper on the topic.
A tool that allows anyone to search for tax-exempt organizations and look up information about their federal tax status and filings, including whether an organization has had their tax-exempt status revoked.
State of Maine
Searchable text of TITLE 13-B: MAINE NONPROFIT CORPORATION ACT
This article provides an interesting case study of the decision-making process new organizations must go through when choosing whether to incorporate as a for profit or nonprofit. The article includes a summary of the key differences related to ownership, transparency and profit. The article is based on a 2 part series by the New York Times.
This article provides a simple outline of options for a nonprofit that was founded in one state, but later wants to move to another.
A national clearinghouse of data on the nonprofit sector in the United States, including access to specific organizations' Form 990 data, and information on filing the 990.
These resources provide a comprehensive summary of which organizational information and documents are public and which are private. Learn about the regulations related to nonprofit disclosure and public access to board meetings, as well as requirements related to meeting minutes.
Resources and information on good practices in all areas of nonprofit management, including a section on volunteerism.
A compilation of resources on nonprofit overhead addresses topics such as "overhead ratio," fundraising vs. administrative costs, executive pay, and messaging/communications about nonprofit overhead.
- The Overhead Myth (Guidestar)
- Overhead Cost Definitions (Nonprofit Finance Fund)
- A Board Member's Guide to Nonprofit Overhead (Blue Avocado)
- (Mis)Understanding Overhead (National Council of Nonprofits)
- Breaking #BadNonprofitHabits: Unrealistic Overhead Ratios (Guidestar Blog)
- Own Your Own Costs (National Council of Nonprofits)
- A Graphic Re-visioning of Nonprofit Overhead (NonprofitQuarterly)
A nonprofit magazine (digital or regular mail) for nonprofit executives.
If your organization owns property, you may be exempt from paying property taxes to the municipality in which it is located, but you may not. As municipal budgets are squeezed, nonprofit property tax exemptions are scrutinized. These resources will help your nonprofit understand your options.
Learn how to mobilize your constituents to become fundraisers through a peer-to-peer campaign that makes use of their own wide networks of personal and professional contacts. Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns act as multipliers by tapping into your supporters' enthusiasm to grow your list of new donors. They can also strengthen your relationships with current donors. And as such campaigns become more common, so do online tools to facilitate them--but they can’t do the hard work for you. You still need to plan and run the campaign, teach participants how to act as fundraisers, and keep them engaged throughout the process.
Panel on the Nonprofit Sector
Guide composed by the Panel on the Nonprofit Sector that outlines 33 principles of ethical conduct, accountability, and transparency. The Panel incorporated a careful review of more than 50 self-regulation systems, counsel from a diverse committee of experts, and significant feedback from the field in the development of these Principles.
In order to not be classified as a private foundation, a charitable nonprofit organization needs to pass what is called the “public support test.” These resources provide information on what the public support test is and how to calculate it.
A self-declared 501(c)(3) nonprofit is a qualifying charitable organization that chooses not to seek official recognition of its tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). These qualifying charitable organizations receive all the benefits of tax-exempt status if they operate in compliance with all rules and regulations that govern other tax-exempt organizations under IRS code 501(c)(3). If your organization is wondering whether or not to apply for official tax-exemption and has annual gross receipts less than $5,000, this white paper is a must-read.
The process of starting a new nonprofit organization can be daunting and is something to consider and research carefully, and the process breaks down into two distinct phases - incorporating as a nonprofit in Maine, and applying for tax-exempt status with the IRS. MANP has dedicated a section of our website to this topic, including questions to ask yourself before you begin, a recommended process in a checklist format with corresponding resources, links and samples, and a list of frequently asked questions.
This recorded IRS webinar helps new nonprofits stay legally compliant. It covers annual filing requirements, what records to maintain, what to do to meet the "operational test", how to avoid jeopardizing 501(c)(3) status, and what tools are available for tax compliance as an organization grows.
Major changes were made to the Nonprofit Corporation Act in 2001. This white paper provides a summary of those changes, which include updated conflict of interest rules as well as duty and enforcement changes relevant to nonprofit directors and officers.
Tax information for charities & other nonprofits from the IRS. Review the contents thoroughly and check for updates periodically.
A simple overview of the key questions to address during a community needs assessment.
Thriving, diverse, equitable communities are possible through deep participation, particularly by communities commonly excluded from democratic voice & power. Leaders across multiple sectors, such as community-based organizations, local governments, philanthropic partners, and facilitative leaders trusted by communities, can use this spectrum to assess and revolutionize community engagement efforts to advance community-driven solutions
Chart containing all of the different types of tax-exempt organizations and their characteristics.
MANP's white paper provides an overview of steps to take if you suspect fraud or misconduct by a Maine nonprofit, including concerns related to charitable solicitation, tax law, gaming, and compliance with the Maine Nonprofit Corporation act. The additional resources provide additional context for protecting your organization.
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