By Howard Donkin, CPA, Jacobson Jarvis Tax Partner
The Charities Advisory Council was created to advise the Washington Secretary of State (SOS) in determining training and educational needs of charitable organizations and model policies related to governance and administration of charitable organizations in accordance with fiduciary principles, assist the Secretary in identifying emerging issues and trends affecting charitable organizations, and advise the Secretary on other related issues at the request of the Secretary.
Council members are appointed by Secretary Kim Wyman and represents a broad range of charities by size, purpose, geographic region of the state, and general expertise in the management and leadership of charitable organizations. Members of the council represent types of professions such as fundraisers, attorneys, C.P.A.s’, consultants, educators, university faculty, board members, authors, executive directors and philanthropists.
On June 12, 2017, the Council met to discuss a broad ranges of topics which included Training and Education, New Technologies, the Statewide Education program, an update on the Division’s Online Filing System, and an Update on the rewrite of the Nonprofit Law statute.
Training and Education
Teresa Glidden, SOS Education and Outreach Coordinator, provided an update on new training videos that are available on the SOS website. The news video “Nonprofits 101” is a basic overview of forming and maintaining a nonprofit corporation in Washington State. The web site contains about twelve educational videos that would be great training for a new board member.
Next, the Council reviewed and edited a draft Information Sheet titled “Fundraising Auctions and Events” that will eventually be on the SOS “Information for Donors” web page. The web site contains other helpful information sheets for nonprofits, such as “Frequently Asked Questions” and “Donations of Clothes and Household Items” which was written by the Council to help clarify the rules for organizations and donors about donated goods and services.
The SOS web page also includes printable resources such as the JJ Booklet “What Board Members Need to Know About Not-For-Profit Finance and Accounting”.
Rebecca Sherrell, SOS Charities Program Liaison, presented a summary of a Federal Trade Commission conference she attended in Washington DC about evolving technologies and new solicitation practices and the possible impact on individual giving. The technologies included social media solicitation, internet solicitation, crowdfunding, and giving by text. One of the key questions was, should the new methods of giving be regulated?
Statewide Education program
The SOS contracts with a third party vendor that provides education throughout the state of Washington, including remote areas where there may not be any other nonprofit training available. Secretary Wyman believes that every nonprofit in Washington deserves the chance to learn how to run a successful organization. The workshops and webinars include online training, Live Training and Self-Paced courses – Online and Free.
Division’s Online Filing System
The Charities division is building an online filing system and is in the middle of the user acceptance testing phase. Soon they will hold workshops on how to use the new system, such as how to include an attachment when filing online. One of the features of the new system is that it will pre-populate information when you renew your corporate or charities filings. All you need to do is login with your UBI number and select “renew”. The old postcard renewal reminders will now have an option to receive an email reminder too. The new system should be operational for online filing on January 1, 2018 and we will keep your updated on its progress in a future newsletter.
Update regarding the Nonprofit Law
Judy Andrews, attorney and member of the CAC, provided an update on the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) nonprofit committee’s rewrite of the Washington State Nonprofit Law and she’s happy to report they have finished a draft of the statute. The draft has added some Attorney General enforcement in the statute and will help people on nonprofit boards understand their duties. The next steps to get the proposed new statute approved is to get it out to the nonprofit community as well as through the Bar Association and then through the Legislature – hopefully in 2018, but the process can be lengthy.
The next meeting of the SOS Charity Advisory Council is in January 2018 and we will provide you with an update of its progress on these activities in a future newsletter
About the Author
Howard Donkin, CPA, Jacobson Jarvis Tax Partner, has more than 20 years’ experience in serving the not-for-profit community. Among his areas of expertise are complex tax issues, state and local tax issues, voluntary compliance issues, strategic planning, investment policies and organizational tax planning.
Howard is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants (WSCPA), the Washington Secretary of State’s Charities Advisory Council and AICPA Exempt Organization Technical Resource Panel to study tax issues for not-for-profits. He is a past chair of the WSCPA’s Not-for-Profit Committee, Bellevue Schools Foundation’s finance committee and the Bellevue Arts Commission. Howard is a frequent speaker and author on not-for-profit tax issues and is on the Advisory Board of The Exempt Organization Tax Review.