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Non-Profit Legal Matters

People ex rel. Ryan v. Telemarketing Associates (U.S. Supreme Court - January 2003)

This case presents the important question whether state and local regulators have the authority to pursue a fraud action against a charity or a professional fundraiser based on a failure to volunteer to potential donors the charity's fundraising cost percentage in situations where an official decides-after-the-fact and without advance warning-that the charity's fundraising costs were "too high."

Public Citizen v. Pinellas County

This case, filed in May 2001, challenged the constitutionality of Pinellas County, Florida's charitable solicitations ordinance, which required charities to register in the county, pay a filing fee, and comply with burdensome reporting requirements before they were permitted to solicit charitable contributions from county residents. The ordinance also required nonprofit organizations to register with the county simply because they received an unsolicited contribution via the Internet. The lawsuit challenged the ordinance on First Amendment, Commerce Clause, and Fourteenth Amendment Due Process grounds.

After Public Citizen's lawsuit was filed, Pinellas County amended its charitable solicitations ordinance to eliminate or modify several of the most offensive provisions challenged in the lawsuit. Subsequently, in May 2004, the district court issued a decision on the parties' motions for summary judgment, finding in favor of plaintiffs on several of their remaining challenges.

On February 20, 2007, Pinellas County's Board of County Commissioners repealed the County's charitable solicitation registration requirements for persons or organizations soliciting for charitable purposes.

Public Citizen's Response to IRS Announcement 2000-84: The Use of the Internet by Exempt Organizations

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