The Soapbox and Toolbox for New York State's Nonprofits

March 25, 2015

NYCON Submits Letter to Charities Bureau Requesting Promised Guidance


James Sheehan, Bureau Chief
Charities Bureau
State of New York Office of the Attorney General
The Capitol
Albany, NY 12224-0341
 

Re: Guidance on Nonprofit Revitalization Act
 

Dear James Sheehan,

It has been now over seven (7) months since the Nonprofit Revitalization Act was enacted.  With the passage of the Act, the Charities Bureau made promises to provide the nonprofit community with guidance, templates and training concerning the new standards and its enforcement.

These promises have not been delivered to date, leaving tens of thousands of well-meaning nonprofits vulnerable to the legal, financial and reputational risks associated with noncompliance. It is only reasonable to assume that the Charities Bureau is not following through on its promises because the Bureau itself is having difficulty applying various provisions of the law to practice. NYCON understands your challenges in doing so, as the Act is flawed in a number of respects and amendment is needed, however, the AG’s Office refuses to support any corrective legislation action whatsoever. 

As you are aware, NYCON and other nonprofit advocates including legal, accounting professions and state agencies, have been working to fill the guidance and educational void left by the Charities Bureau. The lack of leadership by the Bureau however, has left significant provisions of the Act subject to varying interpretations leaving nonprofits vulnerable to non-compliance.

In NYCON’s view, the time has passed for more empty promises and we strong urge the Charities Bureau to provide leadership that will advance charitable missions and protect charitable assets. . We request that the Bureau immediately take the following actions:

  • Provide all of the standardized policy templates mandated by the law
  • Offer training materials on correct steps for implementation and compliance
  • Provide a regularly updated FAQ of pertinent questions and concerns
  • Release a statement clarifying expectations and criteria for nonprofit compliance and what will trigger enforcement
  • Resume the Charities Bureau Nonprofit E-Newsletter, which purpose was to alert nonprofits to changes in the law and highlight issues of interest to nonprofits, fundraisers, attorneys, accountants, and the general public. Please note that only one E-newsletter has been sent and that was in July of 2014.

We urge that the above information be found on the Charities Bureau website, and also be easily accessible in a downloadable electronic format.

NYCON, as an association representing approximately 3,000 nonprofit members from across New York State, is more than willing to be a resource for the Charities Bureau as you move forward on these actions.  We also strongly encourage the Bureau to reconsider its refusal to consider and support responsible legislative “fixes” to the Act.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact me at (518) 434-9194, ext. 103 or email me at dsauer@nycon.org.

Sincerely,

Doug Sauer
Chief Executive Officer


CC:
Honorable Assemblymember James F. Brennan
Honorable Senator Michael Ranzenhofer
David R. Watson, Esq., of the New York State Bar Association
Debra L. Raskin, President of the New York City Bar Association 

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NYCON develops and promotes an effective and vibrant charitable nonprofit community throughout New York State.  We strengthen organizational capacity, act as an advocate and unifying voice, help to inform philanthropic giving, and conduct research and planning to demonstrate relevance and impact.