Mastering Foundation Law: The Council on Foundations Compendium of Legal Resources

Everything you need to know about foundation law in one easy-to-use, regularly updated guide

The Council on Foundations's Compendium of Legal Resources (“Compendium”), is a comprehensive guide to foundation law for the non-lawyer. It is easy to use, self-directed, and regularly updated.

The Council developed the Compendium in direct response to requests from our members to publish new legal desktop guides. Rather than update old materials that could quickly turn into unusable books on a shelf whenever the law was changed, the Council created an annual subscription service that would provide subscribers with guaranteed revised chapters reflecting new information and any changes in the law.

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What is the Compendium of Legal Resources?

Mastering Foundation Law: The Council on Foundations Compendium of Legal Resources is an annual subscription service through which subscribers receive a number of chapters per year working towards a full offering of around 40 chapters. The Compendium allows all subscribers, even those without legal training, to understand the laws impacting philanthropy.

Each chapter delves into a separate topic of foundation law and is written by Council attorneys with contributions from other experienced attorneys. There will be a significant number of topics intended to benefit community and private foundations separately. The chapters also include tips for incorporating relevant law into your foundation's policies, procedures, and work plans.

Because the laws and regulations affecting foundations sometimes change unexpectedly, the Compendium will refresh continually, so subscribers have the latest updates, at all times.

Which Chapters are Available?

These chapters are currently available:

These are the chapters that are planned to be released next:

  • UBIT
  • An Overview of the Law Governing Private Foundations

How Does the Compendium Subscription Work?

The Compendium is an annual subscription which begins in the month it is purchased and ends one year later. Subscribers receive chapters as they are released through the Philanthropy Exchange. Existing chapters will be updated to reflect new information or changes to the law. Revised chapters will be posted online and those whose subscriptions are current will be alerted to their availability.

There are two subscription options, All Staff Access or Assigned Staff Access.

Each chapter is offered in PDF format so that subscribers can have the benefits, such as word search functionality, of a digital copy. Subscribers may print chapters and add them to the Compendium binder the Council provides as part of the subscription. A subscriber receives one binder upon initial subscription to the Compendium and additional binders can be purchased as necessary.

Subscribers must log into the Philanthropy Exchange to download chapters. Members of the Council will have access to an online Philanthropy Exchange community to download chapters and participate in active discussions about the Compendium with Council lawyers and peers. Nonmembers will receive access to a limited Philanthropy Exchange community to download the chapters.

How Much Does the Compendium Subscription Cost?

The cost for Council members is $499 for a yearly subscription.

Members receive the additional benefit of Council legal services, as well as supplementary materials and tools developed specifically for the Compendium.

The cost for nonmembers is $749 for a yearly subscription.

What Topics will the Compendium Cover?

There are approximately 40 planned chapters covering these topics:

  • Creating a Charitable Foundation
  • Board Governance and Accountability
  • Overview of the Law Governing Private Foundations
  • Overview of the Law Governing Community Foundations
  • Legal Considerations for Corporate Foundations
  • Fundraising Law
  • Advocacy, Lobbying, and Election Related Activity
  • Foundation Termination, Merger and Dissolution
  • Foundation Finance and Investment Management
  • IRS Form 990, 990-PF and other Reporting Requirements
  • What to Expect with an Audit
  • Charitable Solicitation Regulation and Other State Regulation Issues
  • Unrelated Business Activity and UBIT
  • Foundation Management: Human Resources and Other Administrative Issues
  • Foundation Property and Assets
  • Executive Compensation, Excess Benefit Transactions and Intermediate Sanctions
  • Communications, Marketing and Public Relations
  • Supporting Organizations, LLCs and Other Related Entities
  • Asset Development and Donor Relations
  • Gift Restrictions and Donor Intent
  • Planned Giving Arrangements
  • Tax Issues Related to Gifts of Property
  • Grantmaking Basics and Permissible Grantees
  • Scholarships, Fellowships and Student Loan Forgiveness
  • Disaster Assistance and Emergency Hardship Funds
  • International Grantmaking
  • Expenditure Responsibility
  • Economic Development as a Charitable Activity
  • Program Related Investments and Other Alternative Funding Options
  • Public Private Partnerships
  • Charitable Activities of American Indian Tribes
  • Self-Dealing and Private Foundations
  • Private Foundation Minimum Distribution Requirements
  • Jeopardy Investments, Excess Business Holding Restrictions and Taxable Expenditures
  • Succession Planning for Family Foundations
  • Fund Types and Considerations for Community Foundations
  • Donor Advised Funds
  • Calculating the Public Support Test
  • Community Foundations and Agency Funds
  • Community Foundations and Geographic Affiliates
  • Community Foundations and Non-Component Funds
  • Fiscal Sponsorships and Project Funds
  • Community Leadership and the Future for Community Foundations