Legal Compliance

As a benefit of membership, the Council on Foundations attorneys and legal staff provide information and education to Council members regarding a variety of topics related to foundation operations and legal compliance. All information on this website, and all publications, articles, e-mail correspondence and telephone consultations provided by Council attorneys and legal staff are intended for informational purposes only and not as part of an attorney-client relationship. Council attorneys are not licensed in every state and cannot provide legal representation. The information is not a substitute for expert legal, tax or other professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances, and may not be relied upon for the purposes of avoiding any penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code.

The Advocacy Toolkit is designed to be a central resource for Council members and others engaged in the philanthropic space to learn about why it is important—now more than ever—for philanthropy to have a voice in policy, how to effectively use advocacy and lobbying to advance your mission, what the most critical or priority "asks" are for the sector at any given time, and to better understand the key policy issues that are top-of-mind for our sector.

This element of the advocacy toolkit is meant to provide specific resources on "how-to" when it comes to engaging with your policymakers—particularly with your Members of Congress and their staff.

Though the law varies somewhat between what community and public foundations are allowed to do, versus what private foundations are allowed to do in terms of lobbying, all foundation-types can engage in advocacy!

Expenditure responsibility is the federally mandated procedure that a private foundation—and some public charities—must follow for any grant made to an organization that is not a public charity. This chapter of Mastering Foundation Law: The Council on Foundations Compendium of Legal Resources focuses on the steps of expenditure responsibility when granting to non 501(c)(3) organizations.

Many people want to start foundations, but few start out knowing exactly what sort of organization they are going to create. The purpose of this chapter of Mastering Foundation Law: The Council on Foundations Compendium of Legal Resources is to help potential donors understand the many different entities that are commonly referred to as foundations and to provide an understanding of the legal framework necessary to establish a foundation.