A question and answer session with the authors of The Oregon Nonprofit Corporation Handbook, Cindy Cumfer (top) and Kay Sohl (bottom).
1. Why would I want a copy of The Oregon Nonprofit Corporation Handbook?
The Handbook is Oregon’s most comprehensive resource for nonprofit corporations, providing essential guidance on nonprofit legal issues, Board governance and management, getting and keeping tax-exempt status, financial management, raising funds and generating earned income, and working effectively with volunteers.
The Handbook is filled with over 800 pages of clear explanations, practical tips, checklists, and sample documents for nonprofits at all stages of development. Over 10,000 copies of earlier editions have been sold—and resold, copied, and treasured by nonprofits in every part of Oregon.
2. We have the fourth edition. How is the fifth edition different?
Written seven years after the fourth edition, the fifth edition reflects the most recent changes in Oregon nonprofit law, IRS requirements for tax-exempt organizations, accounting requirements, and legal issues impacting Boards of Directors, employees and volunteers. It includes significantly improved guidance for Boards of Directors which reflects the reality that one approach to Board roles and responsibilities does not match all nonprofit organizations. The expanded Board section (now five chapters rather than the one chapter in the fourth edition) provides step by step guidance for sorting out your Board’s approach to delegating authority and responsibility to staff (or to volunteers or Board members fulfilling management roles) and identifying the effective approaches to Board oversight that match the approach you’ve chosen.
3. Can the fifth edition help us make sense of nonprofit accounting requirements?
The fifth edition translates the mysteries of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP accounting) into language that Boards and staff can understand. It describes the financial information your nonprofit needs to understand whether your organization is financially healthy and sustainable. More importantly, it explains how to get the financial info you need and provides sample report formats to communicate the essentials without overwhelming everyone.
4. We’re just starting a nonprofit. How can The Handbook help us?
Since the first edition of The Handbook, nonprofits have referred to The Oregon Nonprofit Corporation Handbook as the only “soup to nuts” resource for nonprofits. The fifth edition clarifies the key questions founders will need to resolve at each step of the process of incorporating, writing bylaws, applying for tax-exempt status, building an effective Board of Directors, setting up financial records, finding funding, managing volunteers and paid staff, and building a sustainable organization.
5. Does this edition provide guidance around employment issues?
The fifth edition includes a new chapter drafted by an Oregon attorney specializing in employment law. The Handbook provides an up-to-date discussion of many of the most challenging issues that nonprofit employers confront, including distinguishing employees from independent contractors, meeting wage and hour requirements for compensating non-exempt employees, determining which employees are exempt and non-exempt, preventing harassment and discrimination, and using Oregon’s at-will employment laws properly. The fifth edition also includes expanded discussion of the Board’s responsibility for evaluating the Executive Director and practical tips on how to make that evaluation both fair and meaningful.