Nonprofit Independence Challenged, Preserved in the Northeast

Nonprofit Independence Challenged, Preserved in the Northeast

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The public and government officials often misunderstand the relationship between governments and charitable nonprofits and mistakenly presume that rules and mandates by government ought to automatically apply to these independent organizations. For instance, the Maine Supreme Court recently affirmed that most Maine nonprofits are not required to disclose corporate records nor are meetings required to be open to the public under Maine's Freedom of Access Act. Separately, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office is once again pushing a bill to mandate board training for nonprofits that receive at least $250,000 in “publicly supported funds” from governments at any level in or outside of the state. The New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits is actively opposing this recurring bill. At a hearing this month, Senators appeared to reject the arguments made in support of the bill by government officials. The National Council of Nonprofitssubmitted a written statement opposing the legislation before the hearing, noting that the proposal “improperly presumes that nonprofits contracting with government are transformed into subsidiaries of government instead of remaining independent, private corporations. The bill does not, for example, impose a similar board-training mandate on road builders in the state, on for-profit hospitals, on professional firms such as attorneys or accountants, or on newspapers that receive state and local funds to run advertisements and publish public notices on behalf of governments – all of which also receive public funding as a result of their written agreements with governments.” 

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