Nonprofit Organizations Digest | May 2018

3 min

Venable's Nonprofit Organizations practice is pleased to share recent articles, presentations, and video-recorded webinars by our attorneys. This digest brings together some of our most interesting and useful materials, which you can use to tackle the difficult legal challenges facing your organization

The Final Tax Bill: What Nonprofits Need to Know

Major tax legislation is expected to be enacted following the House and Senate votes to approve the conference bill. Because many provisions have been included in various versions of the House and Senate bills, we want to let you know what is and isn't in the final bill with regard to tax-exempt organizations. (Of course, the provisions changing tax rates, the standard deduction, the estate tax, and more may also have wide-ranging consequences for the nonprofit sector as they change tax incentives for charitable donations and bequests. Also, the reduction in tax revenues could add to pressure to cut federal funding for social programs. However, the results of those changes remain to be seen.)

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FTC Brings Law Enforcement Action Against Telemarketing Charity Fundraiser

On January 10, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asked the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to file a complaint against Ohio-based charity and political fundraiser InfoCision, Inc., alleging violations of the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule. According to the complaint, InfoCision misrepresented the purpose of calls that it placed to consumers in some of its telemarketing campaigns. The DOJ alleges that InfoCision told consumers at the beginning of the call that the purpose of the call was not to ask for a donation.

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Can My Nonprofit Use that Photo? No. Yes. Maybe?

Nonprofits often need to make use of photographs as decorative art, for illustration, in connection with programs, events, or seminars, or for other purposes. For photographs not created by an employee of the nonprofit, the question arises whether photos from other sources can be used by the nonprofit without first obtaining a license. The general answer is no. United States copyright law provides certain rights to the owner of the work of authorship that include the exclusive rights to reproduce, publicly distribute, and publicly display directly or through others.

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Another TCPA Win for Nonprofits, But More Scrutiny May Be Ahead

In Reese v. Anthem, Inc., a federal district judge dismissed a putative class action lawsuit alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by charities. Even for telemarketers and TCPA practitioners, Reese may be easy to overlook—the decision is barely ten pages long; it was issued by a court in Louisiana (hardly the TCPA litigation hotbed that courts in California, Illinois, and Florida are); and two of the three defendants were 501(c)(3) charities, rare targets of TCPA litigation indeed.

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Upcoming Events

June 14, 2018: Avoiding the Legal Pitfalls of Charitable Fundraising

Summer Break: We will resume our nonprofit programs in Fall 2018.