Is there an easy way to locate applicable regulations regarding policies and procedures a 501(c)(3) charity is required to have in place? I recently heard there are requirements for record-keeping and harassment policies and I wonder if there are other policies/procedures as well.
The kinds of policies you refer to are not required by any law or regulation that I am aware of. The IRS Form 990 tax information return includes a whole series of questions in its section on governance about whether or not an exempt entity has certain policies, including conflict of interest, whistleblower, document retention and destruction, compensation setting, joint ventures, minute keeping, and reviewing the 990 before it is filed. The Form makes clear that the governance policies are not required by the Tax Code, but the IRS, and lots of others, think they are valuable in running a good organization.
Many have published lists of key policies for nonprofits. (See Ready Reference Page: “Top Ten Policies and Practices for Nonprofit Organizations”) The Standards for Excellence, developed by Maryland Nonprofits and being replicated by many state associations, have a comprehensive set of policies to help nonprofits govern themselves effectively and ethically. They cover areas such as mission, governing body, conflict of interest, human resources, financial and legal issues, openness, fundraising, and public policy. Virtually all of the recommended policies are things the organization “should” have. Only a few are based on legal requirements that a nonprofit must follow. You can check out the list on the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organization’s website or at the Standards for Excellence Institute. They are good policies to consider and adopt. But they are generally not legally required.
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